Get rid of your recruiter phobia once and for all

Do you have a recruiter phobia?

I am interested in innovative ways of looking at systems and approaches. I think if you run a business, or you are invested in your job, it is natural to be curious about how things in your industry are done. Often this leads to the question of why things are done in a particular way. In fact, nothing is more likely to get me poking around at something to understand it better, than the words ‘that is how it’s always been done’. I immediately want to know — why?

Try a new way of thinking

I read an article recently about something that, while I am not sure I can fully get behind everything in it, did make me think. The article is basically about why commission based salaries don’t necessarily work. It’s interesting because they clearly do work to some extent (or they wouldn’t still be used), and indeed the article acknowledges this, but it raises the question — are they of only a short-term benefit? In the long-term, there is no real reason (apart from a quick repeat sale) to consider customer satisfaction or follow- up support, because it simply has a smaller, and in some cases zero, financial benefit.

There is clearly an inherent difficulty with pay-per-sale or the no win, no fee approach in any business — recruitment is no exception.

It goes without saying that recruiters are financially dependent on the supply of the right person to the client because this is their function. However, the traditional model with a recruitment company is the no win, no fee approach. What that means is that that there is a danger that those involved in the recruitment process for their clients are potentially going to favour the easy win over the more complex or difficult work. So it is very easy for a recruiter to fall into a pattern of favouring the easier job to fill or putting the more financially viable searches at the top of the list. In essence, while yes, of course there is motivation to fill a role, the no win, no fee approach can make some clients less attractive than others because of factors such as, but not limited to:

  • The requirement for highly specialised skills in markets without active candidate pools
  • The need to recruit full-time employees in contractor-driven markets
  • The need to find senior people with complex, nuanced drivers
  • The tactic to work with multiple agencies and drive down fees
Finding the right skills is a skill

When you meet people who suffer from recruiter phobia, I wonder how many of them are in fact suffering from a bad experience in the past for these very reasons?

Just to play devil’s advocate with my own point for a moment — I am certainly not saying there is anything inherently wrong with working in this way, providing you are in an area where it is appropriate to do so. Finding line staff for a warehouse is clearly a very different process to finding a senior manager, regardless of the relative ease of the successful result. So it is natural for any person who is looking to fulfil numbers of placements to prioritise the work that will complete fastest. When recruiters are dealing with multiple clients and positions, this will invariably probably mean that some clients will fall to the bottom of the priority pile, and even potentially off the desk entirely.

Have you tried working on a retained basis?

I suppose, in the end, it is a matter of horses for courses, and if the clients and recruiters are happy then all is well. However, we do hear regularly about dissatisfaction with recruiters — the dreaded recruiter phobia — when talking with prospective clients. They are often the very people who do not fit well into the no win, no fee model because of their highly specialised recruitment needs.

For the client and recruiter then, there is clearly some mileage in moving away from the traditional model and into a more exclusive position where the client and the recruiter are working together in a close, long-term solutions focussed, relationship.

This blog first appeared on the Donaldson Solutions website in July 2016. For more articles and blogs please click below.

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