One thing that lots of recruiters need to step up is the “candidate experience.” Too many recruiters treat candidates as a boundless resource, an incoming stream of one-off resumes that will secure them a placement, rather than treating candidates as a person who can be a long-term contact, a source of industry intelligence and (possibly some day) a client.
Treating candidates better – including not only offering detailed feedback from clients, but also pressing those clients to give better feedback – isn’t something recruiters should do out of the kindness of their hearts. It’s good business, especially for people who want to build a career in the industry rather than “smashing and grabbing” their way through a pile of resumes because they’ve heard recruitment can be lucrative.
The fact is, it’s only lucrative if you treat candidates well enough that they want to work with you.
We’re not perfect at Argentus, and we never have been. You can always improve your customer – and candidate – service. But we’re always interested in finding out ways to improve that experience for people who call us looking for a job. So we were intrigued when a Director in Supply Chain called us with some feedback about recruiters he’s heard from his network. So in the interest of sharing all perspectives – not just those that paint recruiters in a rosy light – we want to share some of those comments with our readers, especially those in the recruitment industry, and offer some response.
This candidate is a former Director of Supply Chain for a major electronics manufacturer in Ontario that recently stopped manufacturing hardware. “I meet with a lot of colleagues who used to work for me, whom I used to work for,” he says, “and the conversation comes back to life after [company] – finding good positions. We talk about our ability to get interviews, and people talk about recruiters.”
“The majority opinion of most of the people I’ve talked to have had a relatively unhappy relationship with contingency-type recruiters.” In other words those who only get paid when a client hires one of their candidates. “When they’ve had an experience of working with a retained recruiter—” meaning one whom the client pays up front “—the experience goes much better and results in a happy ending for both parties.”
“I will give you the caveat that every contingency recruiter is different, and some are way better than others, but as a kind of average response that seems to be the opinion. Fairly recently, I was contacted by a retained recruiter out of Toronto hiring for a pretty high-level visible job with the TTC. When this recruiter contacted me right up front they gave me a presentation package with details of the opportunity, details of the company, calendar of interview process, and selection process.”
“They had me in for a get to know you face-to-face. They offered coaching around people that I’d be meeting with, and what their hot buttons were. They were part of the interview process. I got very prompt and very in-depth feedback as the process went along. Some of the experiences I’ve had with contingency recruiters whereby they’ll take all your information and then you’ll never hear from them again. It feels like they’re trying to get a pulse on the going rate for that position.”
We want to take a moment to respond to these comments. As a contingency-firm, Argentus makes an effort to include a lot of these steps in our process (although not all contingent firms do), including a face-to-face, coaching, and efforts to provide feedback all along the process. But some other bells and whistles (e.g. a presentation package with a calendar) just aren’t possible for a contingent firm, because we work on a multitude of jobs at any given time, unlike a retained firm that might only work on two or three.
We agree that all recruiters need to do as much as they can to improve the candidate experience, and the distinction isn’t so much between retained and contingent firms as between recruiters who are specialized in a certain area and “smashing and grabbing” trying to make placements without regard for any long-term relationships. Make no mistake: we’re not interested in recruiter-bashing here. Spend enough time on LinkedIn and you’ll see that’s way, way too common. We’re more interested in calling on recruiters to do better when they can – and committing ourselves to raising our own standard even higher.
One further comment that this job seeker offered that struck close to home:
“I’ve had the experience where a recruiter called me, and they had no background or understanding of the Supply Chain function. It made for an awkward and unproductive first call. Whether it’s contingency or retained, the recruiter’s knowledge of Supply Chain is critical to having the best possible dialogue.”
We couldn’t agree more.