How committed to your candidates are you REALLY?

 

I was very fortunate in  having my formative
years as a recruiter within both Hays in the UK (then called Accountancy
Personnel) and subsequently Recruitment Solutions.

 

As with many situations, sometimes it’s only with the
benefit of hindsight that I truly appreciated what I had gained.

 

As much as skills development is critical for any
recruiter to succeed, just as importantly is having the right mindset.

 

Although very different cultures, both Hays’ and
Recruitment Solutions’ consultants had at least one thing in common –
committing to candidates.

 

By commitment I mean that each consultant, once a
candidate was interviewed, had to make a decision whether that candidate
was going to be ‘worked on’ or not. A ‘workable’ candidate was one that
was reference checked (if possible), had a suitably prepared resume for
presenting to clients and was assigned to a call cycle. Candidates who
were assessed (for whatever reason) as not workable (‘dead’ was the
jargon used) were told that they couldn’t be helped and their details
were archived.

 

In this way the consultant was committed to working
on the candidate until such a time as the candidate was placed or
subsequent events (poor interview performances, disinterest in their job
search, etc) meant they were ‘deaded’.

 

Each consultant had a working candidate file of
something between 30 and 60 candidates depending upon the experience of
the consultant. One of the vivid memories of my first few months as a
recruiter in London was my manager, Kim Poole, sitting down next to me
and going through every single candidate in my candidate file and
‘deading’ about half of them.

 

This was due to my heartfelt desire to help every
candidate I interviewed regardless of their prospects of proving
commercially viable for me. One of the things that still rings in my
head from that time is Kim saying to me ‘Ross, it’s not your
responsibility to help people if they don’t have the skills or
attributes that make them helpable given the clients and jobs you have
access to’
.

 

The other aspect of commitment that I learned was
that once I decided to refer a candidate for a job then I was committed
to presenting that candidate as positively and powerfully as possible.
If a client was going to push back on my referral then I was going to,
as respectfully and professionally as possible, stand up to the client
and attempt to have the client change their mind.

 

This attitude was borne of a mindset (drilled into me
at Hays and Recruitment Solutions) that I was a professional recruiter
and I knew best which candidates were the the most suitable candidates
to interview for any vacancy.

 

The client was paying me a fee to ensure that they
(the client) maximised their investment in my services. I saw it as my
duty, to both my candidates and my clients, to represent my candidates
as assertively and professionally as possible.

 

This mindset is one that appears at odds with much of
the consulting that I see now. Most recruiters appear to interview
candidates without making a clear decision, at the end of the process,
on whether to ‘work on’ a candidate or not.

 

As a result, the candidate becomes (in most cases)
orphaned on the company’s database and is only contacted when there is a
suitable vacancy. The concept of selecting candidates to work on and
then proactively building a relationship with them over a period of time
(regardless of how many jobs they might be suitable for) seems to be a
foreign one for most consultants. In a ‘skills short’ marketplace this
appears to be a very curious attitude.

 

The other thing I witness that signifies a lack of
commitment is when consultants refer candidates to clients and then
basically agree with the client when the client says the candidate is
not suitable (for whatever reason, valid or not). Frankly, I find this
sort of thing appalling in a professional recruiter. If you are not
prepared to go in to bat for your candidate at the first sign of client
resistance, then don’t refer them in the first place  . I have no
respect for recruitment consultants who do this; it’s insulting to both
your clients and candidates.

 

I had this view validated by another (ex-agency)
recruiter who has been around almost as long as me (now working in
internal recruitment), who told me he found it astonishing as a client,
how few agency recruiters are really prepared to (respectfully and with
good reason) fight with him to have their candidates interviewed.

 

Have agency recruiters had the confidence knocked out
of them to such an extent that they acquiesce to everything the client
says?

 

I really hope that’s not the case.

 

How committed to your candidates are you really  ?

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