But worst of all, it doesn’t find you the best candidates. However, there are ways to work more productively for all parties in the recruitment process without going to a retained-search model, which is generally only feasible for senior roles. Take a quick look at some of these.
How many sharks do you need? It’s tempting to think the more the better, but this is not the case. You will get the maximum attention from a recruitment firm if you give them the role exclusively, at least for a month or so. If you can’t find a firm you have enough confidence in, then perhaps brief two firms. But, every time you add another firm, you are effectively dividing their chances of success – and therefore the amount of time they can afford to invest in your project. If you find yourself complaining recruiters don’t pay enough attention, don’t understand your needs or expect you to do the work, it may be your own fault.
Be clear in your thinking. It’s amazing how many clients don’t have a job specification, don’t make up their minds about their needs until they’ve seen five ‘wrong’ candidates or change crucial aspects of the role part way through the process.
Then there are those who offer then withdraw a position they were uncertain about recruiting in the first place. Remember, your recruitment partner is investing time on a speculative basis. You need to respect the recruiter’s investment of effort not only as a matter of ethics, but also to build trust as an essential part of a two-way relationship.
Next, and possibly most important, is to engage effectively. If you work closely with a recruiter, brief them thoroughly on your business, expect them to contribute to defining the role and ideal candidate, and be available by phone during the search process. Then they will be in a much better position to understand and deliver on your needs.
It’s tempting to avoid contact with recruiters when you’re not actively recruiting, but it is much more productive to have a few with whom you’re prepared to interact and take unsolicited candidates from. Recruiters are eminently trainable: set clear expectations about what sorts of people they can send through and how often. Clever managers often meet with potential talent for their team and to increase their knowledge and network.
If you actively establish a close working relationship with your preferred recruitment firm, they will probably be willing to add value to your business in ways you haven’t considered. For instance, we frequently sit down with our clients’ management or directors to discuss organisational structure, retention strategy and remuneration policy or provide other free consulting, because there is a mutual trust and we know we will be working with those firms when they next recruit.
Whether you’re a business owner or line manager, it pays to develop trust and work proactively with one or two preferred partners. Set clear ground rules, have high expectations and then enjoy the relationships and the benefits to your business.
This article originally appeared in NETT Magazine September 2008