Recently we've been having discussions about what we're all doing for our clients, and yada yada yada... But there is still one thing that everyone seems to forget, and is a topic which is greatly overlooked by far too many in the recruitment industry...
WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR YOUR CANDIDATES?!
Don't you think they are all having a hard enough time right now -with so many avenues for them to look at when trying to find a new job; who can they truly turn to for help? Who can they trust to be on their side when it matters?
We can all go on about how well we treat our clients, and what we can offer them - but I will say on the record that good candidates are your biggest asset if treated correctly. The war for talent has always been going on - and as many on here are saying... clients do not care where they get candidates from, as long as they can find the right ones. Agency loyalty is fading fast, amidst the pressure that bottom line costs are placing on the ability for hiring managers to make carefully planned decisions. We have job boards, RPO's, in-house teams, Managed Service Providers, recruitment market places and not forgetting our new best friend in disguise - Social Media... all competing with us to try and entice companies to use their services as opposed to engaging directly with us, the recruiters.
So... the client is getting confused about whether or not they really still need to engage directly with a recruiter, or use one of the other services mentioned above. What about candidates though?! Who's looking after them - being their guide, coach, mentor through the recruitment process?? They aren't just a CV, a profile, a name, a number - they all would love to have someone that they could trust to look after their careers for them.
And who can do that better than anyone else? US OF COURSE! If you as a recruiter can develop strong, loyal relationships with your best candidates, don't you think you'll be able to represent them exclusively - sort of like a sports agent model? We don't need to charge candidates to do this... and if we are the ones holding the exclusive relationships with the best talent (because we offer them a whole lot more than the services mentioned above ever can!)... then we hold all the Aces. Sure, you can't develop these relationships immediately with anyone who's desperately looking to move right now, but you can certainly do it with all of your passive candidates… which the majority of us prefer to work with anyway.
"Mr client, I appreciate that you have an in-house recruitment team, an offsite RPO team, a social talent acquisition management expert (yeah, I made that one up!), your own social media company engagement job portal, and all the other stuff you are doing…. but... we exclusively represent the top 10 best FD's in your sector and region, as their career agents. They trust us to handle their careers for them just like a sports agent would look after a football player, leaving them to focus on continuing to deliver the best results to their current employers. You won't get to see them without going through us – no matter what you do. Here's their resumes (can disclose full info as we can contract with the candidate not to go outside us), here's my details, here's our rates, feel free to give me a call when your own activities fail to deliver anyone who can match the caliber of our candidates. Best of luck!"
Now my advice is lets get out there and show the candidates exactly why they should partner with us as their career agents. Sure, we can partner as well with the smaller clients, the ones who still value our services greatly... but forget trying to partner with the big companies right now - they just aren't interested. And that fact is even more certain if they have a .... wait for it.... HR Team involved! Before the HR players shoot me down again... you know you don't partner with agencies, you just use us as a necessary evil. If the overall climate changes - and boy will it if we all start representing the best candidates exclusively - then I'll gladly look at partnering with HR if they are willing to work WITH us, and not dictate to us how we should work FOR them.
Anyway... Candidates are literally crying out for some added support to help them find their way in the dark. There are a lot of companies setting up right now in order to coach or mentor candidates - especially senior level ones; on how to find a new job or get back into work after being made redundant. They will charge a hefty fee for this too - but isn't that the type of service we should be offering to our candidates anyway, and for free?! Heck, if I'm going to place them at some point, and can get them to work with me exclusively - I'll pay them!
Think about what you are doing for candidates right now :- are you truly adding value to them? Do you treat them as individuals, and not just a CV? Do you coach them and guide them, even if you know you don't have the perfect job for them right now? Do you care about the impact a new job will have on their family, and what it could do to their family if they end up taking the wrong job? Do you truly care about getting them the best salary possible, or will you pressure them to take a job at a lower salary simply so you can close the deal and get paid? Would you still offer advice to them even if they were placed this time by another agency? Why would a candidate want to work exclusively with you - can they trust you to look after them?
Answers can be sent via pen and paper to my office postal address...
Too much effort ???
Ok, how about we just all meet up for a few beers and chat about the joys of our work...
Not enough time because you're too busy actually working or playing on social media, and somehow need to fit in time to spend with your family as well ???
OK, how about we just have a conference call...
You're telling me you still don't have enough time for that either ???
Ok, if that's all just too inconvenient for you all.... I guess you can always post a message on here then....
Damn social media, you're my friend, but also my enemy as well at times... just like my other cunning friends in disguise - McDonalds, Dominos, Pepsi, and not forgetting... Mr Jack Daniels! :-)
Submitted by Sean O'Donoghue
"Lead Talent Social Aquisitional Head Hunting Specialist"
aka: A Recruiter
The premise of your post is we should be helping our candidates.
And the way to do that is to convince your candidates to work exclusively with you.
Thanks for your nice comments Christopher, and glad to have you on here as a friend.
And Barry... if we are helping our candidates in the right way, the why wouldn't they work exclusively with you? I'm not saying we need to convince any of them - just offer it out as an option, and explain the benefits to them for having the exclusive relationship with you. It's not a hard sell, and of course, if you can't deliver on what you claim, you'll soon lose the candidate anyway. I'm not suggesting they pay you, or you pay them upfront, or have any strict no get out clauses involved. It's a two way relationship, which mutually benefits both sides, and should deliver better results all round.
Have you never worked exclusively with any clients - and can you not see the benefits in working exclusively with a client? Why would those same benefits not apply to a candidate as well in an exclusive relationship - in addition to the extra benefits that you can give a candidate.
Do you think candidates really like having to explain themselves to lots of different agencies, who then all compete with each other to get them placed - even sending their CV to the same client and making that candidate then look bad for not handling the agencies correctly? Do they like the fact that the majority of the agencies they end up speaking to don't even give them correct or prompt feedback - little assistance on interview preparation; and that many of the agencies they'll send their CV to won't even have the courtesy to reply if they aren't right for a particular job. I know a lot of us don't operate like that - but many more do, and hence why our industry has a bad rep!
If you were to ask all job seekers what their opinions were on recruiters - do you think it would all be positive? Nearly all of the negative views a candidate has on a recruiter or an agency can be solved if they worked more closely with one, on an exclusive basis.
And if you aren't able to commit to your candidates on an exclusive basis yourself - then why are you even dealing with them in the first place... unless it's all just a numbers game, in which case I'd say that you're not a real recruiter, just a paper shifter!
It's up to you Barry how you choose to work as a recruiter - but if you were to elaborate a bit more on your comments, rather than simply claiming what I'm saying is bull, then maybe I'd be able to see your point of view and take on board what you are claiming from your own observations.
If you can't communicate properly, then don't bother at all.
Barry... Put up, or shut up my friend!
I would never ask any candidate to be their exclusive job search agent. I can't make that kind of commitment - and wouldn't want to.
So you somehow lock up a dozen good people. What then? What happens when they all see the same position advertised somewhere - yet that organization won't consider them through you?
The game ends there........
Interesting idea though. Always like the ones that keep me on my toes!
Yes Christopher - I agree. A short window is appropriate.
From Sean's post here I gathered he was managing their entire career. That's a whole different thing when compared to the first few weeks of someone making a change.
So other than a verbal exclusive for a few weeks - do you want to propose and accept responsibility for someone's career? And looking further - after you've placed them the first time - are we to assume that as their career manager you'll be recruiting them again?
Because if the above is not the case (career management) then the entire idea just gets back to an exclusive during their job search (one time) which would change how I've replied here.
Want an exclusive for a bit while you've got some jobs they fit and you feel good about? Go for it. Want to lock up someone's entire career? No thanks.
That's right Christopher... I would set a time limitation of 2 weeks also. I only need two weeks with a candidate - whilst they are actively looking, but at least during that time I know I've got their full commitment and don't need to worry about their CV being sent into my clients via the back door from other agencies.
If the candidate is passive, or I've just placed them - then they can continue to stay with me exclusively indefinitely. Why wouldn't they come to me first for advice or to tell me they want to start looking again - I'm one of the few recruiters that they trust, and has proven themselves in the past. It works in the sports industry, and with celebs, so it can do with all other industries.
Heck, I'm not trying to tell you all how to do it this way with candidates - just reminding you that we need to pay close attention to what we offer to candidates in order to ensure that they also have a good experience with us. It's not all about the clients, or the job provider... I call my candidates clients anyway, so to me they are equally as valuable (even though I still stick by saying that personally I'm far more valuable to my clients because I have exclusive relationships with my candidates!).
Wouldn't a client also like the fact that you have an exclusive relationship with you candidate? What do you think that would show them - firstly that the candidate respects and trusts you to handle their job search for them. Secondly, how many times have you had a candidate at offer stage, only to then find out that they've been interviewing elsewhere without telling you or the client - simply because they wanted to keep their "options open". Imagine how this would make you look in front of the client - which could have been avoided if you represented the candidate exclusively. Full candidate control. This doesn't happen too often, but if you don't have that trust built up in your candidate, would you blame them for dealing with another agency?
@Jerry - Welcome to the conversation. I get what you are saying... what if you can't deliver to your candidate if you are representing them exclusively. You know about working with other independents right? Well, if you have a candidate that you've taken on exclusively, and then for whatever reason you realise you can't help them right now - you then go out to your network of recruiter partners. You'd still represent the candidate, and maintain the full candidate relationship, but use your network to help find them a job and manage the client side. Collaboration at it's best! That's what we do at our group, and so do all of our recruiters / agency members. However, it's not about us - this is just purely about looking at recruitment from a different angle.
If everyone started doing it - you'd do it too. So why not give it a try - even if you just represent them for 2 weeks exclusively like Chris said.
If you specialise in high volume placements, then of course this isn't for you. You have a hard enough time as it is, without committing to 100's of candidates - it obviously wouldn't work.
Just in addition to your last comment Jerry about locking up someone for their entire career - I'm not intending to place that type of burden on my candidates, but I certainly would like to maintain a relationship with them past actually making a placement, or even if they are placed by someone else.
However, when you place a candidate, wouldn't you prefer it if they came to you first when they want to make another move? It would be nice if they gave you first opportunity to help place them, wouldn't it? If you had a strong network to back you up, then why not help them out again?
Sure.. what if they want to move into another specialism, or another location - is that what you're afraid of Jerry? That doesn't have to be an issue, not if you're connected to other recruiters in other industry sectors and locations. Like I said - as long as you keep the relationship with the candidate, then you'll still be entitled to your fee - or a split of it if you end up working with another recruiter to help get them placed.
It won't suit everyone, but if you're connected enough to be able to bring in other recruiters to help you place your candidate, it's a win win for everyone. I'm making it work for us, and as we grow, I'll start giving everyone more defined examples of that. In the meantime, I'm just offering out there as a discussion point - if we had actual candidates on this forum, I'm sure they'd all be very interested in hearing what we have to say about this!
Regarding placing someone out of the client who hired them through you - it's just something we don't do here in the states. Sure - many recruiters use the "I didn't call them - they called me" excuse......but for me I just don't do it. Perhaps it's a bit different in your market.
Some of my clients only hire 1 or 2 people from time to time. It may be years between projects with them.
Once a company becomes a client of mine I treat them like gold. For eternity. It's just the philosophy I've always held. Might not be the same for many though.
I always laugh at the recruiter who uses the client/source threat as a means to get a client...as if there aren't hundreds of recruiters calling in already.
The definition of a client has always been a topic of conversation when I was recruiting. I don't think a placement here and there makes them a "no call zone" forever. There is no formula but I would say if I don't have an active job order ever 6 months for large, one year for small...they are no longer a client and you are free to source.
Yep. "I have to make a decision about you. That decision being whether you are a client.....or a source." Lame. Newbie. Rude. I've never said it and have laughed each time I've heard it.
I work with many of the smaller firms here in the Midwest. It can often be several years between recruiting missions for them. Too many other places to recruit from for me to put any kind of time frame on the stuff. Luckily they like me enough that when something does come up - the give me a call.
Reputation is everything in my opinion as I'm sure you'd agree. So if a company has hired from me - and we got along well - I won't be recruiting that person - or from their team. 10 years down the road? Sure. Why not.
But really - there are tens of thousands of companies in my market. A few dozen of them are clients. It's not that hard to put them in the "Hands off" zone.