Why using more than one agency is recruitment suicide

We’re often called up by clients who want to use our recruitment services.  This is gratifying, as it means that our marketing is having an effect, our website is online, and our phone lines are working. It should be good news!

But – also quite often – after a few minutes of conversation, it becomes clear that we are the wrong recruitment company for them.  It turns out that the potential client has been working with one particular agency for 2 weeks, has failed to find the right person, and has decided to ask another 5 agencies to work on the role as well.

All of this adds up to one big red flag for us, and we will politely turn the client down.

Here is why

Each of the five agencies that the client actually engages knows that there are another four on the case.  Therefore, their chances of placing the role are approximately 20%.  Oh – then they remember that a sixth agency has had a 2-week head start, so the odds are even less than this.

But what the hell – people play the lottery and fully expect to win, even though the odds of that are far slimmer.  We’ll have a go!

But that’s all it is.  A ‘go’.

And ‘go’ is an appropriate word in another sense, because the whole thing has now turned into a race.

Koi carp feeding

This is what then happens, from the agency’s point of view.

The Agency

Day 1. The recruitment manager knows how to play the odds, so he gives the job to one of his inexperienced staff and instructs them to spend a couple of hours on it.  Each of these junior recruiters immediately advertises the role on the main job boards.  This advert is just a copy of the job description.  They do a couple of searches online, but all of the obvious candidates have already been called by agency number 1, two weeks ago.

They might send a mailshot to their database and call a few people up, but enthusiasm for working on this role fades very quickly.  They only had a couple of hours anyway.  But because most agencies target their staff on the number of CVs they send out of the door, they will find a couple of candidates who match a few key words, have a brief profiling conversation, and send them over.

The fee is low, though, so there are a couple of candidates they deliberately won’t represent.  They might tell them about the role but will put them off it, in case any of the other five agencies decides to call them up.

Day 2. All the agencies have moved on to other things.  If the client wants to interview someone, it’s a bonus.

The client

Now, this is how things pan out from the client’s point of view.

Day 1. I’ve spent a couple of hours calling agencies and had the same conversation with each of them.  A few asked some good questions, but most of them just accepted the job description and promised that they’d sent over some good candidates really fast.  And they all accepted our low-ball fee structure.  This is great!

Day 2. A few CVs were sent over by email last night.  None of them looks very good, and we’ve actually interviewed a couple already, but I’ll spend time looking through them.

Day 3. I do want to interview one of the candidates, but I’ve received the CV twice.  I’ll go with the first agency who sent it over.  (Oh, and the first agency we were working with have found out that I’m working with five others, and they’re not very happy about it.)

Day 4. I’ve had an argument with the second agency who sent the CV, because they claim to have spoken to the candidate first.  This is all very unpleasant.  Do I need to take legal advice?

Day 5. The candidate turns up for interview but isn’t what I expected at all.  And we weren’t what they were expecting, either.  Did the agency tell them the truth about the role?  Did they brief them properly?  I have no idea.

Day 6. Everything has gone very quiet.  I think I need to call a few more agencies.

Time to change

Do you recognise any elements of this scenario?  If so, it might be time to change the way you think about recruitment, and recruiters.

Things started off well, because the client chose to work with a single agency.  But was it the right one?  And was there enough time to find the right person?

Believe it or not, some recruitment agencies are genuinely professional.  Seek out one of these.

Two pelicans enjoying an equal relationship

What follows is the typical approach of a professional recruitment agency.

  • They will want to work with you on an exclusive basis for a period of time (probably longer than 2 weeks).
  • They may want to charge you a retainer up front (to be subtracted from the placement fee). This is to ensure mutual commitment to the process.
  • They will visit you and they will ask a lot of questions.
  • They will set up a recruitment timetable and will ask you to commit to giving timely feedback. They may also ask you to reserve dates in your diary for interviews.
  • They will craft an intelligent job advert that is designed to attract the best candidates.
  • They will talk to passive candidates, not just those that are obviously available on public job boards.
  • They will offer a guarantee (ours is up to 6 months).
  • They will interview the candidates themselves, and will provide notes and opinions.
  • They may put the candidates through technical tests and / or behavioural assessments.
  • They will put in consistent effort over the period of time you have agreed to use them.
  • They will provide you with a management report, so that you have the best possible chance of keeping hold of the great candidate that you eventually employ.

They’ll also send you a final invoice, of course.  But you’ll be happy to pay it, because you have seen the process in action and you know that you have recruited the best possible candidate.  And there’s always the guarantee, for the rare instances where it doesn’t work out.

If this approach appeals to you, visit our website at www.bluespoint.net to find out more, or give us a call on 01283 530923.

I’ve just checked, and our phones are definitely working.