This week I spoke to a client, a small business owner who prides himself on client relationships and understanding candidates. When we reviewed last month’s results, he explained that he had lost two of his expected fees after submitting CVs, when the client told him that the candidate was already known to their business.
My client, the Recruitment Business Owner, shrugged his shoulders. “It’s become an occupational hazard,” he said. I asked him to quantify what proportion of assignments he worked ended like this. His estimate was up to 10%.
What would your estimate be for your business? If you run a larger recruitment business you may have no idea, as consultants busily work jobs that go nowhere.
That’s a lot of wasted effort for your team. And that wasted effort costs you money in salaries, opportunity cost, advertising and administration. If I ran a factory with 10% wastage – goods that had to destroyed at the end of production – I’d be looking for a quality manager.
So what can you do about it?
Quality Managers look first at process. Where are the critical points in the process where stuff gets wasted? What’s the standard we expect? Is there an “acceptable” standard of waste? What’s a reasonable sample to measure?
And a Recruitment Business Owner, Director or Manager needs to do the same- minimise wastage.
Here are 4 steps you can take if this applies to you:
1) Review your terms. It is perfectly reasonable to have a clause that requires your client to provide evidence of an earlier introduction, and proof that they were already being considered for the role. If your client has secured discounted fees from you, or promised exclusivity, make sure that you include a clause that says they warrant that they have already explored internal candidates and referrals. And a verbal check should always be part of taking a job brief.
2) Know the Conduct Regulations. If the client is claiming another agency introduced the candidate, was it with regards to this vacancy? Does the candidate know they have been submitted by that agency? Because if the other agency hasn’t checked that they are willing to work in that role – and written evidence such as a right to represent is required here – then the other agency is in breach of the Conduct Regulations. Make sure your client knows about this when they instruct you, so they can fend off unsolicited CVs and unagreed terms of business.
3) Conversely, when your people qualify the candidate for the role, are they asking them about other approaches? And knowledge of the hiring company? Because if they haven’t heard of them, then it’s quite clear no introduction has been made. Build this into your processes so your people always ask the question.
4) Check at every stage. While many recruiters will ask candidates what else they have going on in their initial interview, few ask them at each stage of the process. These same recruiters are the ones who complain when the offer they have secured is turned down, as if it was the candidate’s responsibility to tell them. It’s not.
So there you have it: four practical steps that my client hadn’t considered. I was able to highlight them due to a sound understanding of best practice, as well as the law as it relates to recruitment.
This is a competitive market. And other recruiters aren’t your only competition. It’s your clients as well. If you value your time and want to get paid for the work you do, then invest in getting expert advice and you can add 10% onto your profits.
Alison Humphries is a highly experienced MD and NED, with 35 years at the top of the recruitment sector.
She advises directors and owners of recruitment businesses on strategy, finance, sales and management to maximise performance, enter new markets, prepare for sale and work more efficiently.
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