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The Recruiting Industry is Broken (Part 5)

March 7, 2018 by Kurt Wilkin

Reason #4: Because You Have High Standards

In this installment of my series on why the recruiting industry is broken (see parts one, two, three and four to find out more), we’ll talk about how contingent recruiters have to focus their time and attention on jobs they think will lead to commissions. And if you are discerning or busy, then the quality of the service you get from your recruiter has probably decreased significantly.

Does quality matter to you? If it does, your contingent recruiter may be frustrated with you as much as you’re frustrated with them. If you’re picky and don’t move fast enough, they will move on to other searches – because they’re on commission! Sure, they may send you a candidate or two later in the process but that’s just their way of showing you that they are “still working on it” and hoping there’s a chance they can get lucky.

But that’s okay. As your Talent Partner, we would absolutely advocate – or even DEMAND – that you be discerning. It simply means that the broken, contingent recruiting model is probably not the best solution for you. If you do have a lot of hiring to do over the next few years, ideally you’re able to build a world-class recruiting team inside your organization and make hiring a best practice. Until then, I encourage you to look for a partner who can meet or even exceed your high standards. A partner like HireBetter.

Remember, contingent recruiters only get paid for the roles they close. Statistically, that will only be one out of every eight roles they’re working (one out of six if they’re fortunate!), they just don’t know which one. This is why their work seems haphazard at times. They simply can’t afford to spend quality time on one role. You’re getting scattered work across six to ten searches, and you will continue to be frustrated.

Does quality matter to you? If it does, your contingent recruiter may be frustrated with you as much as you’re frustrated with them.

Business-as-Usual is Part of the Problem

Speaking for recruiters everywhere (the good ones, the bad ones and everything in between), “the way we’ve always done it” is part of the problem. As consumers of recruiting services, you don’t just tolerate the transactional nature of the recruiting industry, you expect it and even incentivize it. You only pay them when they provide a body, you incentivize speed, salesmanship, and cutthroat behavior.

You also don’t do them any favors by hiring reactively. Many managers treat hiring as an afterthought, waiting until your internal team has failed miserably before you call a recruiter. The pressure you put on them to move fast and compete in a speed game doesn’t allow them to do a great job.

Put succinctly – the industry is broken.

Real World Example – Growing Pains

James is Founder and CEO of a $40M consumer packaged goods company based in Austin, Texas. He is the quintessential entrepreneur: bootstrapping was the name of the game. For the first five years, James followed the on-the-cheap playbook; hiring friends of friends, out-of-work relatives and anyone else who would almost literally “work for food”.

This model actually worked for a while because James met all the candidates and knew the team intimately. But as they grew, this practice no longer worked, and the onus was placed on his managers to recruit their direct reports. His overwhelmed managers soon turned to contingent recruiters to cut corners.

Over the years his “team” (and I use that term loosely) was cobbled together from whoever answered the ad or who happened to be looking for a job at that time. They were candidates who were generally running away from something and simply wanted a job. They were NOT next-level studs who wanted to build something special.

This is not the recipe for building a winning team and a winning culture. No one great wants to work in a hair’s-on-fire situation, a company with bad managers who are always scrambling, a company who seems to be constantly fighting excessive turnover and now has a bad reputation in the market.

Telling it like it is

One of the reasons I founded HireBetter was because of companies like this and leaders like James. James is a great guy with a big heart. He had simply outgrown some members of his team. And he was also having his own personal leadership growth challenges. James needed someone to challenge the way they were doing things. Someone to ask tough questions and tell him what he needed to hear, not what he wanted to hear. Someone to call his baby ugly if need be. In short, James needed a guide – a talent partner, if you will.

A contingent recruiter will almost never be that candid. They want the sale, so they’ll usually tell you what you want to hear. And they thrive in the chaos. If you fix the problems by improving your retention, improving employee engagement and company culture, and simply making your company a great place to work, you lose the need to hire in desperation. And they lose a honey hole.

If you agree with me and feel that the recruiting industry is broken, contact us. We’d love to chat with you about what we’re doing or hear your own ideas on how to fix it!

Previously in The Recruiting Industry is Broken:

Part One: Misaligned incentives inherent in the “contingent” recruiting model and their commission-only compensation models mean contingent recruiters are in direct competition with YOU, the client, for talent.

Part Two: The contingent recruiting industry is built on speed. Speed that is necessitated not by your desire to make a quick hire, but by their need to beat all the other recruiters (and you) to the punch!

Part Three: Your shrewd ability to negotiate your contingent recruiter’s fees usually means they focus their attention on higher dollar roles and you only get candidates rejected by those higher fee clients.

Part Four: Statistics show that your contingent recruiter will get paid for only one out of every eight roles they are working on. They just don’t know which one. That’s one reason why you feel like you’re getting haphazard service. What if you could align incentives and actually partner with your recruiter?

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