I thoroughly enjoyed a posting this week by my friend Bruce Powell from IQ Partners in Toronto titled What To Say (And NOT To Say) When A Headhunter Calls. He gave excellent and practical tips that can be very helpful to people that are either actively looking for their next opportunity, or open to hearing about another opportunity that could be career changing.
The post was nice to read because I’ve heard many of the “Don’t Say’s” as well as the “Do Say’s” in recent weeks. After reading the blog, I posted a comment on Bruce’s Posting on LinkedIn and went about my day.
Some of the other comments that followed disturbed me and got me thinking…
Many people do not understand recruitment.
By this I mean the business of Recruitment.
Recruitment is a business unlike most others. The closest similar business is Real Estate, an agency business where the seller pays a fee. In Recruitment, the buyer (Employer) pays a fee. This means that the Recruiter has a fiduciary business relationship with the Employer.
For more information about the business of recruitment, you can read this Wikipedia posting, or this very useful guide from the Association of Executive Search Consultants.
The unfortunate thing is that many people who have dealt with Recruiters as candidates feel that they do not get serviced properly by them. Complaints of phone calls unreturned, lack of information updates on the opportunity they were called about, and not getting full and timely information that will be beneficial to them are complaints that can be heard over and over again.
And in many cases, these complaints have merit.
Excellent Recruiters like Bruce (and myself), try really hard to build solid relationships with candidates and provide them with the best service possible. However, even Excellent Recruiters have room to improve in this regard (I’m talking about myself here, not Bruce). Excellent Recruiters understand that they need to continually work to improve their relationships with their candidates.
Recruitment is a SALES business, and the EMPLOYER is the CUSTOMER.
So if the employer is the customer, what is the individual candidate?
You may not like the analogy, but all you are is INVENTORY.
Not only are you inventory, you are like inventory that is on consignment.
Recruitment is the only business in the world where the ‘product’ decides
- Which customer they want to go to, if any
- What they want to get paid
- How long they will stay at the customer
- If they will start work at the customer
So, as a candidate, how do you move beyond being seen as only INVENTORY?
Following Bruce’s “Do Say’s” is a good start.
Can you share examples of how you add value to your relationships with Recruiters?
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david k waltz says
That is a great analogy. There are some who feel the recruiter owes them something, or that the recruiter should help the candidate sell themselves to the company, and as you suggest this is simply not the case since the company is the customer. If the company wants someone who can juggle bowling pins while talking on the phone in Cantonese, no recruiter is going to put you in front of their client if you’ve got butterfingers and can only speak Swahili.
Samuel Dergel says
I would add that most recruiters love helping people. Danny Cahill said that “Recruiters are Social Workers that like money”. Most recruiters are interested in helping the people they have the opportunity to work with when working for their client. They don’t see it as ‘either / or’. But it is important to remember that the recruiter has a primary obligation to the person (organization) who pays them.
Phil Parkinson says
I think I am one of the few who is not psyched out/offended by people realtors (recruiters). The recruiters that I work with, I tend to refer them to other people in my network. Sure enough most of them now even call me to see if I know someone who may fit a position even though they know I am not interested in the job they are calling about. I now even have coworkers asking me if I know of any jobs for their friends since I am talking to recruiters at least once a week. Good commentary from both articles.
Remember recruiters are a dime a dozen. Don’t feel pressured or fall for the temp-to-perm routine. The recruiter doesn’t care about you – it’s all about the customer and their commission.
Samuel Dergel says
Thanks for sharing your views.
Recruiters are actually quite expensive. I know – I see what my clients pay.
For candidates, there is no charge. So “a dime a dozen” is more than the going rate.
I care about candidates. Most recruiters do. But it is important that candidates realize how the business of recruitment works.
Obviously the company is the client, but one thing to also keep in mind is that the company will get a guarantee from the recruiter with the hire. Therefore the recruiter does have some invested interest in ensuring the candidate is a good fit.
Samuel Dergel says
The recruiter always has a strong vested interest in the candidate being a good fit for the employer. For many reasons.
But this still does not make the candidate the client.
Thanks for your input on the topic and thanks for following.
Kevin Dee says
Samuel, as always a well written and thoughtful post.
Your statement that candidates are “inventory” is accurate but as you identify, when taken personally could be offensive. You also point out that this is “inventory with power” … they choose their own outcome.
I think it is also important to mention that a recruiters success is very dependant upon their reputation, so too many “upset candidates”, particularly in today’s “networked world” can be very hurtful to the recruiter’s ability to be successful. Which means that recruiters have plenty of motivation to build and maintain good candidate relationships!
Yes there are those who seem to be solely motivated by the commission cheque, but my experience is that most recruiters want to do a good job, want to help their clients and see candidates in good jobs.
Thanks for your insights!
Samuel Dergel says
Thank you for your input on the topic! I agree with all of your points. I think that we have the best job in the world. Don’t you?
Lana Morgan says
I am just wondering, inventory of what product? I think once you identify yourself (i am talking about the candidates) with the particular product, then it becomes obvious if you are obsolete inventory that will be sitting on the shelves until you will be written off or inventory that is getting better over the time and is waiting for the right time to be sold to the right client. Sometimes you don’t know it and this is when you need help of the professional recruiter who can identify (if doing the proper job) your potential and point to the right direction. But…… I think personally, that you have to find the right recruiter by introducing yourself, following up, reminding, updating the information. Otherwise you will be lost “on the shelf” with other inventory 🙂