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Are PSL's potentially damaging to business?

Are PSL's potentially damaging to business? Do they close the door on good talent? I understand the reasons why companies run PSL’s. For any business that runs a PSL, have you ever stopped and considered the consequences of fishing with just two or three lines? 

I’ve been in the recruitment world for 15 years, and it’s fair to say that over 70% of the clients I deal with have a PSL, none of which has my name on the list. I also the clients that run strict PSL’s which I am listed. Regardless as to whether or not I am, or am not the PSL I am fully aware that the clients best interest is that of employing the best candidate for their business. Let me now explain my reasons for this article.

I was recently referred to a new client who was looking to recruit a senior qualified financial sales professional. Following my introduction I discovered that the vacancy had been open for some time, and the quality of applicants were simply not great. I established from my contact (the hiring manager) that the company ran a PSL but the PSL simply were not hitting the mark. I agreed with the client I would speak to a number of contacts I knew of. Within three days of pro-active networking I’d been pointed in the direction of a gentleman who worked for a direct competitor. He had over and above the experience and qualifications this client required. Between us we agreed that it would be beneficial for both parties to meet. The first meeting was a great success. The clients loved the candidates, and the candidate loved the client. A second and final meeting took place, and client now wanted to make an offer of employment. Having agreed on this occasion I would work on a same agreement they had in place with their PSL, the client was over the moon, everyone was happy . . . . . So we all thought until my receiving a call from the clients head of HR. “You are not on our PSL, there is no way we will be processing any offer of employment for the candidate you have introduced to us”. I informed this individual that I was happy to work to the PSL’s agreed terms. “If you wanted to work with us, you should have contacted us first at which point we would have then told you we have a PSL” I was told. I apologised for any offence I may have caused by not liaising with HR. I explained I’d spoken to the hiring manager and between us we agreed that I would speak to a number contacts to see if I could do something your PSL have failed to do; locate your business a qualified financial sales professional. HR persisted, “We have a PSL, we won’t be reviewing this for a further 9 months, and under no circumstances will we now use you”. I replied calmly, and asked the question, “So what you are telling me is, because my name is not on a list you are going to stop your company from recruiting an individual who is going to help increase business sales?”

I had no hesitation at this point to proceed in contacting the MD of the business who inevitably had zero hesitation in ensuring the offer was made, and subsequently my fee paid. This is just an example of why I believe PSL’s can damage businesses attracting best talent.

Simply put, PSL’s can be damaging to business. Whilst I had enough experience, and knowledge to overcome this situation, I truly believe someone with lesser experience would have failed to have made the call I made to the MD resulting in this company loosing the opportunity of employing a first class sales professional.

This is obviously a rare case as most HR professionals in this situation would have respectfully ensured there was no complication knowing a result was more important than who was responsible for generating the result.  

There are recruiters out there who are representing excellent candidates. I can guarantee they will instantly approach the companies they deal with. If they know a company has a PSL they’re not on, they will naturally and instinctively concentrate on dealing with their preferred clients first.

If they are not on your PSL, some will naturally shy away from informing you of such a candidate, knowing you previously informed them your PSL is not up for review until a further 12 months time.

I fully accept that the way a recruitment firm trains their consultants will determine their success in ensuring these situations don’t happen. What I am saying is very simply; if your company has a PSL, maybe you should consider whether or not you’re unknowingly closing the door on potentially excellent talent.

You have more chance of catching big fish with a net, as opposed to fishing using two or three lines. 

Views: 227

Comment by Nick Gray on November 28, 2012 at 12:40pm
Interesting insight Thomas - IMHO I agree that PSL's are nuts.

Employers use them for one simple reason, to control and manage the recruiters which constantly try to sell to them.

There are so many recruiters that they have no other choice, so as not to get ripped off by the unscrupulous.

Of course this necessarily reduces the pool from which they are able to attract talent, so ultimately becomes uselss, particularly as the actual recruiters they deal with at one particular company change all the time.

The simple fact is that at the moment employers have little alternative - exactly the problem we are working to fix - see www.sboj.com in early 2013!
Comment by George Mathis on December 4, 2012 at 4:52pm

It would have been nice if the article opened with an explanation of a PSL. 

Comment by Thomas Timperley on December 5, 2012 at 4:28am

Hi George, 

Fully appreciate your comment. I think this is obviously an innocent example of how two countries have different terminology for the same subject. PSL (Preferred Supplier List) is, as I have recently discovered, what you what you guys call a "Vendor List" - A preferred, or agreed list of companies they use when recruiting.

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