Recruitment Agents Are Not All Evil. Part Two

First of all, thanks for all the comments on ‘Part One’ of this part of the Talent Genius Ltd blog, looking at my WordPress stats, I see there were over 4,000 unique views in the first 24 hours, which is remarkable. Also, thanks for the comments on Linkedin as well. If you wish to connect with me on Linkedin, my profile can be found HERE

For this part of the blog, I’ll discuss the ‘reputation’ of Recruitment Consultants that I have come across on various Linkedin Group Discussions and I’ll address one of the issues…

So, I wake up at 7.00am and, luckily, I work from a home-based office, so I now don’t have to drive twenty miles in rush hour traffic each day, but when I turn on my PC, I open Outlook and see there’s 430 emails that have been sent to me from 10pm to 7am. Many of these emails are ‘CV Alerts’ from particular jobsites that I use. So, here is ‘Issue 1’ to look at – I’ve read several candidate experience’s and their interpretation of events/though processes on recruitment. One comment from an unhappy candidate of a Recruitment Agency (RA) read :

“All these RA’s just add fake jobs on job sites to fish for new CV’s, they have no interest in helping us get a job…”

Well, to inform you, RA’s with access to most job boards can set up ‘CV Alerts’ by using particular industries/job title/experience levels/keywords and these CV’s get sent directly to agencies. So there’s no ‘need’ to RA’s to simply ‘fish’ for new CV’s because if you are registered on the job board you saw the advert on, chances are the RA already has your CV. Job Adverts are primarily designed to attract new, relevant candidates, some of which may not be registered and only ‘passively’ looking for a role, so they see the job ad and then send in their CV themselves. It’s also these candidates who tend to be more ‘suitable’ for the roles as they have typically read the job ad properly and feel that they are generally a good ‘fit’.

Now, a typical job advert (and I’m basing this on my ads) will attract at least 100 applications in the first 48 hours. I’d addressed before that many of these applications are probably not suitable anyway, but these candidate’s that are not suitable DO waste the RA’s time. They tend to send their CV in several times, make several phone calls to the RA and look for the reason direct from the RA as to why they are not suitable.

Unfortunately, these candidates are actually taking valuable time away from the RA, who genuinely wants to find the best candidates for the role and wants to spend their time speaking/meeting/registering the candidates that they feel are more suitable. And remember, RA’s are essentially ‘paid to discriminate’ by their clients as the client only wants a shortlist based upon the brief they have given the RA. The RA wants to ‘fill the role’ so they can make money themselves… So they can pay their mortgages, have a social life, whatever they need money for.

What they do not want is to spend their valuable time explaining to unsuitable candidates why they are not suitable and for that candidate to then have a ‘rant’ online, with statements such as “How dare the RA tell me I’m not suitable, I have all the relevant experience”.

I’ll take a recent example I had, for a HR Business Partner Role.

“Hi Steve, I’ve sent you my CV for the HR Business Partner role in Birmingham.”

“Ok, let me look at your details, we try to contact suitable candidates in due course, but let me check…”

I then looked at the candidate’s CV, which was a very poorly laid out CV, full of spelling and grammatical errors, no email address, no telephone number and a silly email address similar to ‘genderbender69@…’ The CV had no reference to any previous experience as a HR Business Partner or within the industry of my client, who, despite my attempts to ensure that many skills were transferable, wanted someone from within their sector, for various reasons which were all understandable.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t think you are suitable for the HR Business Partner role, looking at your CV, you don’t have any relevant experience, your history is more L&D focused.”

“Excuse me, but I have lots of experience in a HR Business Partner role, it just wasn’t my job title and I haven’t put that on my CV…”

“Ok, fair enough, but your CV is your marketing tool, it’s what is there to benchmark you against the role and other candidates, if you don’t have the relevant experience on it, even if you do, I’m not to know. Would you mind revising your CV and adding on the relevant details of your similar role in the industry?”

“No, I don’t have time for that, can you not do that?”

“Sorry, no, we don’t falsify CV’s to suit roles and it’s important that you write the detail, etc as to ensure that you did the duties/tasks. If you can redo it and send it to me, I’ll take a good look and give you some feedback.”

“Well that’s just wrong, you’re telling me I don’t have the experience, who are you to say?

“Ok, that’s your opinion, but until you do this, I can’t consider your application any further.”

At this stage, I could’ve explained how I have worked in the HR industry for 12 years and so on, but I decided it would be best to politely terminate the call. I’m sure RA’s out there receive many similar calls, but it’s worth noting that I also saw this candidate have an online ‘rant’ against agencies and employers. Should the candidate have considered that these ‘online rants’ are visible to employers too and show a poor sense of judgement. If you were an employer and saw the candidate’s ‘online rant’, would you not question the motives and use that as part of a recruitment decision?

Candidates as much as RA’s need to ensure that they are not being overly negative when using social media because of its easy accessibility to potential employers/recruiters. The RA would see the candidate as a ‘high risk’ and not want to put the candidate forward for roles because their client relationship could be at risk too.

Food For Thought… Recruitment is a two way process from RA’s and Candidates and Candidates need to work hard to get the job too. Every RA I know works very hard to ensure that they do everything they can to help the candidates and as someone mentioned in the previous blog comments, recruitment is a ‘thankless job’. But hey, we are an important part of the process in ensuring the job market ‘bounces back’, so please, use us well and appreciate our hard work in securing you an interview and the interview preparation, don’t ‘blame’ us (unless we did do something wrong!).

Work with us and we, in return, will always work hard for you.

Regards

Steve Smithson

Managing Director

Talent Genius Ltd

http://www.talentgenius.co.uk

E: steve@talentgenius.co.uk

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  1. October 20, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Hi Steve,

    Nice post – educating candidates as well as clients is definitely a thankless task, but there are plent of upsides to what we do as well.

    I recently wrote an article on whether candidates would find it more cost effective to cut out agents altogether:

    http://timpactrb.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/is-it-more-cost-effective-to-cut-out-agents-altogether/

    I would imagine you can guess what the results were but I tried to be as unbiased as possible!

  2. October 22, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Hello Steve,

    I read your article with interest but still hasn;t answer one of my questions – how can some of these RA’s when they barely have writing skills or communication experience decide what’s best for you the applicant – I come across so many jobs advertisements requiring someone with “impeccable written and verbal skills” yet they can even make the distinction between ordering “stationary” – how could one have faith in the company for having their CV delivered to the right recruiter.

    The Government also keeps telling us about the cuts we must have in order to save the economy – i think the first cuts should take place in the Recruitment Agencies – so many of them and so useless. Why would I need an interlocutor to represent me – I have not gone to the stage yet when I can’t say boo to a goose. As for the other fellows stating that there are phantom positions out there which the RA’s use to entice people – it’s true – let’s see:

    1.

    • October 22, 2010 at 12:49 pm

      **Just to note, I think your reply came through unfinished.

      Annie, there’s quite a few grammatical and typing errors in your reply, so that doesn’t quite ‘back up’ your original statement.

      With regards to ‘fake adverts’, I am going to address this issue in a future blog. I do agree that this method of attracting candidates from RA’s is quite frankly, ridiculous and not needed.

      • October 22, 2010 at 4:30 pm

        Re: Annie’s comment
        Does it matter how she spells? Her observations were about how Recruiters spell. I’m guessing your comment about her grammar did wonders for RA/Candidate relations.
        The truth is that recruitment is a people business and as such you’ll get complete some morons on either side. However the recruiter is supposed to be the professional, in spite of the fact that there are no professional exams.
        Recruiters may not be evil but there are certainly lots that are stupid. Annie is making a vaild point and until we start to raise the standards this industry will continue to suffer from a negative image.
        David Palmer

      • October 22, 2010 at 4:45 pm

        Hi David,

        Yes it does matter and is completely relevant how Annie ‘spells’, as the point she was making was that recruiter’s generally can’t and Annie herself works in administration. I’m sure you can appreciate how this ‘matters’ as the statement made didn’t reflect well when raising an issue about an RA. Especially if an RA in that sector was to consider Annie for a role. Why put forward a candidate who could potentially have issues with grammar and punctuation in a sector where it is an essential criteria for recruitment? (Annie, that wasn’t a direct call against you, simply a comparison of the point)

        Also, again, just saying ‘lots that are stupid’ seems to have no real justifcation either. We can all make sweeping statements, but that just seems rather ‘petty’ to me.

  3. October 22, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Hello Steve,

    I read your article with interest but still hasn;t answer one of my questions – how can some of these RA’s when they barely have writing skills or communication experience decide what’s best for you the applicant – I come across so many jobs advertisements requiring someone with “impeccable written and verbal skills” yet they can even make the distinction between ordering “stationary” – how could one have faith in the company for having their CV delivered to the right recruiter.

    The Government also keeps telling us about the cuts we must have in order to save the economy – i think the first cuts should take place in the Recruitment Agencies – so many of them and so useless. Why would I need an interlocutor to represent me – I have not gone to the stage yet when I can’t say boo to a goose. As for the other fellows stating that there are phantom positions out there which the RA’s use to entice people – it’s true – let’s see:

    1. an RA is paid on commission the more people he/she recruits the better the commission
    2. why is it necessary to go and visit the office of the RA if one applies for a job? with the technology we have now – a simple online assessment or even a video-call could be more cost effective than having to go to their office on a wild goose chase – signing the contracts is a practice that has been used via internet for sometime now and once the RA sees you live on chat – there can be no doubt that it is one and the same person.
    3. an RA should be trained to certain high level standards – but this I’m afraid to say I have not been able to see.

    Although I quite agree that there are areas of employment when the RA job is specialised – I think there are far more agencies out there that could simply be closed down as they struggle to deliver that which they are paid to do.

    As an employer – I have not yet resorted to any of these agencies and I don’t consider paying for something I can do myself.

    And as a candidate – I find it extremely worrying when someone who can’e even spell has the audacity to tell me what’s best for me.

    • October 22, 2010 at 12:58 pm

      Annie,

      Interesting insight from the other side of the table. Sad to hear you seem to have experienced many bad agencies. I believe there are many good agents out there and am worried that your mindset is closed to the idea of exploring conversations because of your previous experiences.

      In truth, there are hundreds of bad restaurants, bars, theatres, films, music albums, and so on, but you wouldn’t stop eating out, enjoying entertainment or watching movies because you have experienced bad ones. It’s a simplistic view but the theory is solid.

      There is an element of survival of the fittest – whether that be from your own experience i.e. cull the agencies you do not like and keep the good ones, or general market practice where hiring managers will decide with their feet and the agencies will dissolve.

      I am always disappointed to hear when a hiring manager will not consider using agencies because of bad experiences. I have come across plenty of unprofessional individuals and weeded those out from the strong connections in my network. I certainly wouldn’t treat them all the same, because rarely is service ever black and white.

    • Naomi
      October 22, 2010 at 2:38 pm

      Annie,

      I have great relationships with most of my candidates – I help some, and others that I don’t directly place, have hopefully found my advice, market updates, leads etc useful. There are many reasons I meet most of my candidates – the smallest one is to assess against a particular role. The main overriding reason is to build a long term relationship, understand if this particular role doesn’t work – what will – and get to know eachother, how we both work and how we like to work. That way it’s a fantastic start to a working relationship, and I work on the basis that we are all EQUAL and have things to bring to the table. These relationships add value to my clients and my candidates.

      Your comments make me think that you are approaching the relationship from a point of view that is really offputting to RA’s – consider this – if you were at an event would you strike up a relationship with someone who was suspiscious, cynical and thought you were generally awful from the outset? I think if you’re honest you’d probably rather not continue the conversation and give it up for a lost cause. In stead you’d rather spend time with the people who seemed to value you. Forgive me – I have tried to find a way of putting this without it sounding rude – but it also sounds to me as if you’re approaching the relationship as if you’re the only one with something to give.

      Granted there are some awful recruiters out there – but you can still get much more out of them than you currently are – take a step back, understand where they are coming from and empathise – the same things you would do in any work situation where you wanted to get your own way. Approach the relationship from a point of view of mutual respect. You wouldn’t rant at stakeholders at work when you want something – similarly don’t do it as a candidate – anyone who does this in my mind I then put down as a bad relationship manager and I wouldn’t put them in front of my clients for a considerable fee!

      Interestingly my clients value my input particularly on relationship and stakeholder management – after all I am a stakeholder, and the candidate should have built some semblance of a relationship with me.

      Hope this helps.

  4. October 22, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Annie – Many RA’s insist on meeting face to face with candidates for various reasons, which may include: Ensuring Commitment & Quality Control – The RA is also taking a risk by sending a candidate to a client and this is part of the original ‘quality control’. By meeting the RA, you are also offering an initial level of commitment to them. The RA will want to make their judgement on whether you are a suitable representative/candidate of their business too. Plus, there are many legal factors, especially with temporary work.

    I agree that there could be other methods of technology used to help this and future possible meetings, but there’s an obvious cost factor too. Remember, the RA is also giving you their time as well.

    As for training, as with many job roles, this comes with time & experience.

    My opinion of your reply with regards to ‘closing down’ agencies is that you are basing it upon your experiences. But, there could be many factors in this. You may simply not be an ideal candidate for particular roles that an RA is handling, there may be more suitable, better experienced, more qualified candidates that are also on the RA’s ‘books’ who get offered the roles before you. The RA would only be doing their job in that case as they are also more effectively handling the needs of their client.

    Individual experiences with RA’s will always see positive & negative experiences, but sometimes, it is also the candidate who is simply not at the required level.

  5. October 22, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Re: Annie
    Sorry I may not have made the point clearly enough.
    Annie said that if recruiters cannot spell or use grammar correctly how can they judge a candidate’s ability to spell or use grammar correctly.
    The “lots that are stupid” comment was made in the context of “RAs are not all evil”. If you want to get specific, I will.
    Having said that my comments are born out of the frustration felt by the many good recruitment consultants whose industry is blighted by the “stupid ones”.
    Now is the time to change all that.
    Will it happen?
    I’m not sure.

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