Role of a Recruiter

by : Toby Marshall

It had been a long day at a Human Resources conference where the last session was on ‘Working with Recruiters’. This had morphed into ‘Let’s bash Recruiters’ – 3 senior HR managers politely but bluntly dumping on the industry.One sorrow drowner was an industry veteran and Peter said something 14 years ago that stayed with me:“Most employers see our role as just finding people – simply sending in resumes. The real value we could provide is reducing the RISK of making a wrong hire.But in our industry 95% of recruiters offer their services for free so employers don’t know this is an option. That this is a service that could be included for the same price they ultimately pay.It’s very hard to sell our services and seek a commitment when employers can just ring these contingent recruiters, pay them nothing and they start work. But as we know, such recruiters work for themselves and not in partnership with their clients - it’s all about the fees.The big firms attract a lot of candidates because of those giant advertisements their clients pay for. So they are good at getting candidates and sending them out to many clients at once.No wonder recruiting has such a bad reputation!"We returned to our drinks and frustration, but those words stuck as they explained the problem so neatly.Size mattered 14 years ago but here’s the thing …..Online a small recruitment firm is now as big as it wants to be. If you can work the search engines and networking sites and specialise in a field, you can compete with the big firms. Boutiques can just as easily find candidates.In this brave new world, what do employers REALLY need from recruiters?They need a warts and all discussion of the shortlist and advice on who is really the best candidate. But employers get unbiased advice only if their recruiter gets paid something regardless of who gets hired or even if no-one does.You don’t pay your accountant or architect contingently, why is a recruiter so different?Well there is often a good reason - many are just sales people and expert advice is beyond them. How to find those who don’t just sell bodies is next week’s Rant. It’s certainly not the ‘English backpacker’ who is so pervasive and damaging in our industry: their motto is “sell hard, not here next year to clean up the mess!"The world has changed and there are more recruiters who work in partnership with their clients. There are MANY more who would like to help their clients reduce the risks of hiring the wrong person – they know hiring is hard and teamwork is critical.Employers now have the choice to work this way. To decide not to brief multiple agencies for a single job (we’ll look at how that destroys your Employment Brand in a future Rant).Why pay for a service and get less than half of it? In factHealth Fitness Articles, why pay the entire fee when the person starts – what about the recruiter holding some back for retention? Abacus does this – why don’t more employers demand it?