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Have you ever had a job spec emailed to you with an accompanying email message along the lines of ‘can you have a look on your database and send me across any suitable resumes’?

I suspect all of us, at some stage in our lives as an agency (or even internal) recruiter, has had this experience.

That’s not a job for a recruiter – that’s a job for a monkey (or an algorithm). A monkey or (an algorithm) can match a resume to a job description. A recruiter’s time is far more valuable than to spend it on such unskilled work.

Any recruiter worth their title will insist on a meeting with the hiring manager; the person responsible for the performance of the job-holder. This meeting is the most important 30 to 60 minutes you will invest and should not be compromised on. A face-to-face meeting is ideal, but for many reasons, may not be practical or possible. A phone conversation is a lesser but acceptable substitute.

The hiring manager will be in a position to tell you the things that a job description or assignment brief won’t tell you. A job description or assignment brief is an official company document and will only contain information that is formal, non-controversial and approved (mostly by HR). As any recruiter knows, there is, almost always, far more to the job than those publicly-acceptable words.

Here’s a few examples of the type of valuable information that a job description or assignment brief will, almost certainly, not contain:

  • Whether the incumbent (or previous holder of this position) has succeeded in the job, or not
  • The internal or external relationship(s) that may need building or rebuilding as a result of the incumbent’s performance
  • The real company culture as it exists now
  • The company culture that is desired
  • The team dynamics that currently exist amongst the incumbent’s peers
  • The history of success (or failure) in this role and/or the incumbent’s team
  • The value of this role, relative to other positions in the company
  • The external dynamics that impact this role (eg proposed or actual government legislation, competitor behaviour, supplier effectiveness etc)
  • The real long term prospects of a person in this role
  • What the realistic performance goals are for the role
  • The type of candidate that will, realistically, be preferred for the role
  • What the hiring manager is really like to work for (the way they talk in the job-briefing meeting should give you plenty of clues)

This is not to say that a recruiter will necessarily gain all of the above information when they meet with the hiring manager. The factors that impact how much of that information they gain in the meeting will depend upon things such as:

  • Whether there is an existing relationship between the hiring manager and the recruiter (and how strong it is)
  • Whether anybody else is in the meeting (eg HR)
  • How secure the hiring manager is in her/his own job
  • How willing the hiring manager is to recruit someone who could potentially be capable of taking their job in the not-too-distant future
  • Whether the hiring manager is actively looking to leave the organisation
  • Whether the hiring manager would pass a reality check with respect to their own capabilities, their employer’s employment brand and the attractiveness of the job to the type of candidates they aspire to hire

Emailing out job specs and asking for resumes is an insult to the genuine skill of a recruiter.

The next time this occurs, and your request for a meeting or conversation with the relevant hiring manager is declined, then my advice is to politely decline the job because ‘A job spec is just words on a piece of paper. A resume is also just words on a piece of paper. I don’t match words with words; as a professional recruiter I match the right people with the right opportunity. For that to occur, in the most time and cost efficient way, I need to speak to the hiring manager. This enables me to understand the dynamics of the role and the team. If that meeting doesn’t happen then I’m just wasting everyone’s time, and I won’t do that’.

Go on – I dare you. What have you got to lose? Certainly not your time.

Related articles:

Why crap interviewers don’t know they are crap

More powerful lessons from The Rare Find: Think through the assignment

Contingent recruitment: Are you a mug punter or a professional gambler?

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Recruitment Leader

Amen Ross!

I am a recruitment leader with over 20 years industry experience.
I know what you are saying is Recruitment 101. I support your post whole heartily.

This message needs to be heard by our CLIENTS. Many, many larger clients are moving toward a NIL communication route with recruitment agencies. Often encouraged by MSP’s, VMS and the likes of the major recruitment players.

It is not best practice recruitment. And I agree with you, it is not even recruitment! We fight it. We rage against it. We have meetings with senior management controlling these scenarios only to have our words fall on deaf ears. Procurement runs the show and they just don’t care about any of this. Doesn’t fit into their world view and at the moment Procurement rules the roost, unfortunately often encouraged by large robot employing recruitment agencies.

Am I fired up about this? YES. So many countless hours are wasted of consultant and client time in following these inane recruitment practices forced upon us by Procurement. They are a cancer that keeps spreading this perverse way of dealing with people. Yes, people, not pens.

In most cases our company works in the way you describe. In many others we have been forced to work the way of the monkey. We have had to change that part of our business that deals with this nonsense.

Do I like that? NO. Is it helping the client really? NO. Do I feel our industry has been devalued? Being made irrelevant? Yes.

However the truth is, large parts of our industry are being forced down this route. Adapt or die.

As for our path, we run two models: One that is true consulting, one that is for the monkeys. AND we keep trying to entice the monkeys to evolve!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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