Fast Track Recruitment

When are the clients going to start taking some blame?

Posted by Mitch on 3rd August 2018


In the early days of my social media career, a lot of agency recruiters used to label me a “recruiter basher”, mostly because I used to promote the idea that companies should do whatever they could to bring their recruitment inhouse.

Given the amount of recruiter bashing that’s been going on over at LinkedIn these past few years – nearly all of which has been from candidates by the way – my criticisms of the 3rd party sector looks positively anaemic.

To blame recruitment agencies for poor service or bad behaviour is a too convenient and, if I’m honest, a little stupid. As stupid as blaming a child for bad behaviour instead of its parents.

I wonder when the hiring companies are going to start being apportioned some share of the blame for agency behaviour?

After all, it’s they who select which agencies they work with. And if they really did have an employment culture that as worth protecting, they’d be more careful about who they allowed to represent them to their prospective future employees, wouldn’t they?

If a company really did have a positive employee culture, surely that would be reflected in how they attracted, assessed and treated their future employees during the hiring process, wouldn’t it?

They’d care about the kinds of advertising messages being used to attract these people, how they were first engaged with and how they were screened, surely?

They’d want someone credible being the interface between them and a future employee, right?

But if you believe all the online commentary about recruitment agencies from non-recruiters about things like inappropriate emails, unprofessional phone calls and spamming candidate CVs, none of this is being addressed.

From the outside, it looks like some companies select recruitment agencies with their eyes shut.

When a hiring company gives several agencies the same vacancy to work on, they’re effectively giving those agencies permission to play the numbers game. Like a parent having a cigarette and blowing the smoke in their kid’s faces.

Companies will argue that they need to hedge their bets because their previous experiences with agencies has been unreliable. Perhaps no one has told them that 1 recruiter doing everything properly will always outperform 5 recruiters doing everything not very well.

Agencies will mount all kinds of arguments to justify being one of 5 agencies all racing each other to the bottom on every vacancy they take in. Probably the most laughable is when they say that they really are giving a good service on contingency – but a cursory look at their job ads will tell you otherwise.

I’m looking forward to one day seeing a hiring manager or an HR person posting something on LinkedIn that basically said something like; “I’ve had a job go unfilled for 3 months because all the agencies working the vacancy were useless and generated nothing but the wrong type of candidates, all of whom knew next to nothing about us or, inexplicably, the fucking job. But you know what? It’s my fault because I chose them. I was fucking careless and I won’t make that mistake again.”

They might not swear as much as I did, but you get my drift…

I’m starting to tire of people moaning about bad agency practice – not because I’m an apologist for the industry, because I’m not. But because they ought to start doing something about it themselves.

How about researching the agency you’re giving your vacancies to?

Does the recruiter look like someone who will appear credible to those Management Accountants you need to find?

Can they sell jobs?

What’s their policy on email marketing?

Do they interview candidates – and if so, how?

How professional do they sound when you talk to them?

How smart are the questions they ask?

Do they ever challenge you?

If you only work with competent agency recruiters, the amount of potential candidates who think that if your hiring process is messy, you’re probably also messy to work for, will dramatically reduce. Which means it will get progressively easier to find suitable people for similar vacancies in the future.

Just stop believing they’re the best recruiters because they tell you they are. Them being an “expert in your field” – apart from being mostly untrue – is no guarantee that they know anything about the art of recruitment.

The art of recruitment are all those small but important things that need to be done if a person is going to be persuaded to leave a job and take another one with a different company. Things like the depth of the research, the quality of the brief they take, the attractiveness of the marketing, the professionalism of the candidate screening, assessment and management, the commitment to take (and make) candidate calls in the evenings and weekends.

All those little things that hiring managers either can’t or won’t do.

Those are the things the recruiters who charge you big fees should be very good at doing. Those are not the things recruiters whose fees are only 10-12% are going to be good at – regardless of how “passionate about recruitment” they tell you they are.

If you’re a hiring manager and an agency that’s working on one of your vacancies acts unprofessionally, it’s ultimately your fault.

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