by Ben Batten
A client rang me last Tuesday with a very unique and critical 6 month contract requirement for a Project Manager. Ideally someone with an engineering background, Six Sigma and who had worked in a complex project led environment. During the course of the conversation, a lady came to mind I had met 12 months earlier, who I recently caught up with, that I knew was going to be available for work the following week. I told the client about her background and experience. She was interested in the profile so I called the candidate, who was also interested. After two rounds of interview, two days later an offer was made and the role was filled. What a great buzz!
This example is one of the many reasons I love recruitment. Leveraging relationships and networks to solve client needs and bring meaningful work opportunities to candidates, and of course making bonus at the same time. This was an unusually quick turnaround (I wish it was always this easy), which my client was incredibly grateful for. She looked good in front of her hiring manager, and we easily agreed a fee for the fixed term contract, which was not covered by the agreement we had in place. She saw real value in the service provided.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking to another client’s new Talent Acquisition Manager at a very large European organization. We have had a successful relationship with this business for some time, with agreed terms of business in place, which were recently renegotiated about 6 months ago, and several placements. The first question I was asked was not what successes we have had, nor what our capability is, simply ‘do you have terms of business in place, and what are the rates?’ I’m sure you can guess where this conversation went. Our rates were indeed too high, and if we wanted to continue the relationship, we needed to drop the rate by 4%, and by the way, far too busy for a meeting! Did I mention that a junior executive in the organization will be assessing vendors early next year to review the panel?
Of course price is important in any business decision, and it’s not my intent to bemoan the focus on rates, that goes with the territory! What does concern me, is how increasingly, conversations with Talent Acquisition folks, are focusing on rates before anything else. Not experience, not competencies, not size of database, or candidate attraction strategies, nor longer term hiring plans and talent strategies or succession planning, just rates!
In a similar vein, I had breakfast with a hiring manager from another organization today, who was expressing his lack of satisfaction with his own internal hiring team, their slow response times, and then when he chased for an update, he was sent forty (yes 40) CVs to look through. Most were not relevant, and many not based in Singapore. Despite this, he was not supposed to be having breakfast with me, as HR frowns upon recruiters dealing direct with hiring managers. He was surprised to learn that a role he thought I had received two weeks ago had not yet been released to me. When I heard of his requirement, I immediately could think of 2 great possibilities.
These examples concern me, particularly as they are not isolated instances. What hope do these companies have if they are missing out on getting the best talent by choosing recruiters solely on price? What hope do they have if roles don’t get the priority they deserve internally, and hiring managers are wading through piles of CVs? But herein lies the opportunity. With perseverance, influence, and continually meeting and talking to candidates, and proactively marketing these candidates to companies (read hiring managers), we will create our own success. I firmly believe that our industry is at the beginning of a new resurgence, but only for those that work hard not only on their client relationship development, but differentiated candidate attraction and management strategies. Technology has led to arrogance and complacency, particularly with internal recruiters. Real conversations, investment in proper briefings and good old fashioned face to face meetings are where it’s at!