Recruiting and matchmaking - not entirely the same, but not so different either.
A friend is single, yet can't manage to find a guy/girl because work/school/life is too hectic - just like the customer who has a vacancy yet can't seem to find the right candidate on their own. You get to work thinking about who you know that would be interested and has a personality that will mesh with your single pal - sounds like sourcing a qualified candidate to me. You set up some sort of meeting, a blind date perhaps, to see if your friends will hit it off - just as a customer interviews your candidate. The ultimate goal is the development of a relationship that pairs two of your friends together - a job offer for the candidate and a placement fee for the recruiter!
An oversimplification of what a recruiter does, but the idea is similar enough, as is the measurement of a successful pairing. I was engaged in a debate with a good friend about what should be more important to a TPR - speed to market, or the tenure of the employee. He maintained that while retention is nice, assuming that the guarantee is met, it is all about speed. I felt obligated to disagree, not just to play devil's advocate, but because I truly feel as though retention is far more important. Persuading him was tough, but I'd like to think the use of my dating analogy made a bit of headway.
While I agree that time to first submittal and time to fill are metrics that are difficult to ignore, I simply cannot see either of them being more important than retention! In my opinion, time to submittal and time to fill don't really prove a lot, especially time to first submittal. These are numbers that tell me a recruiter works quickly, but gives no reference point to the quality behind the speed. Much like a blind date, a candidate can be coached well for the initial meeting such that a relationship is started, but once the honeymoon period is over things can turn ugly and end quickly. This reflects poorly on more than just the candidate, it reflects on the TPR as well. If a customer notices that candidates from a particular agency or recruiter tend to fall off shortly after the guarantee period is met, chances are that firm may find themselves on the wrong end of a supplier optimization.
Of course, my friend had a rebuttal at the ready - if the guarantee period is met, shouldn't it be the responsibility of the customer to make sure the candidate sticks around? If they can't keep people happy it surely must be their own fault! I had to admit that I agree with the theme of his argument here, but not the claim in its entirety. In the grand scheme of things, retention is the responsibility of the company hiring the employee. It is their job to keep the employee happy, busy, and engaged enough to want to stay. That said, if the candidates are regularly exiting after a few short months, we need to look at the job the TPR is doing as well. Regardless of the guarantee period, I feel as though a candidate who sticks around for less than a full year leaves a bad impression and raises concerns about the quality of hire.
This responsibility is not entirely on the shoulders of the recruiter. Obviously the interview process of the customer needs to be examined if bad apples are getting in on a regular basis. However, the fact that a TPR is providing candidates who will likely move on to the younger, prettier, and less-inhibited prospects makes you wonder how much they care about their friend who will soon be single, searching, and perhaps a bit bitter very soon.