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Why are you using multiple recruiters?

Here are a few of the more common reasons:

– hiring in varied geographic regions (and not using a recruiter that can cover them all effectively)- hiring across multiple business or technical disciplines

– pitting one firm against another with a view to encouraging healthy competition (often reasoning that one firm can’t know or reach everyone).

Taking the last point, it’s often said that it’s not what you know but who you know. This is a mantra that has prevailed for years among some recruiters, who herald their ‘little black book’ as the key to candidate heaven. My own experience, conversely, is that the people worth knowing are sometimes the ones recruiters aren’t already familiar with. Not the people that are known to be looking, or who are easily attracted away from their current position, but those who are successful and loyal, who are recognised and rewarded by their employers. Not only the players but the stayers.

Seen it all before?

What is the more common experience among recruiting managers? Let’s picture a candidate called Tom. Or Dick or Harriet. On paper, their experience and skills look half decent. Problem is, you’ve seen it all before. Not just similar candidates – though of course that’s also true – but specifically this CV. The same one, sent over by more than one recruiter on your PSL. That’s not to say he or she couldn’t do a reasonable job for you, but rather than taking this duplication as a strong endorsement, you might treat it with a little caution. If this person has been put forward by multiple recruiters, how hard have they really looked? It suggests this is an easily found candidate, or perhaps someone that was already on their books. It also begs the question whether this is a case of finding the right candidate for the job, or finding a job for a candidate. Does the pressure on competing recruiters drive a race to find the quickest match, rather than a more considered search for the best – and often harder to reach – people? Taking the time to locate and personally assess candidates – not just their CVs – is a formula for quality over quantity and certainty over chance.

The chosen one

My belief is that it’s not so much who you know, but where you look. And, crucially, that it’s also about who you don’t know. Or more accurately, who you don’t know yet. Social media has made the search phase relatively easy. Plenty of prospects will attest to being bombarded with emails, calls and LinkedIn messages. This apparent ease of communication actually makes reaching and engaging someone in an intelligent business discussion far more difficult, and is an added-value skill that fewer recruiters provide. Rather than immediately pitching a role to them, this is about exploring their career aspirations, and how these might be better met. The level of trust and understanding this builds is priceless.

I have worked with hundreds of hiring managers and the common denominator is that if they could find one recruiter or recruiting firm they could trust to be consistently effective and reliable, then that would be their ideal scenario. Appreciably though, it’s a case of finding the right one.

What would ‘the right one’ offer? Here’s a simple ABCD:

Availability
– ready to take on an assignment immediately, whenever you need them

Bandwidth
– the recruiters, infrastructure and resources to handle individual hires or large teams

Coverage
– sector expertise and geographic reach

Delivery
– a ‘no fail’ assurance that the right candidate will be found

Retaining a high quality recruitment firm should also lower the overall cost of hire. With the certainty that a retained relationship brings, recruiters can afford to provide a far more effective service and delivery capability at the same fee level.

Paul Rayner, CEO

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