Category Archives: internal

Recruitment Agencies…. They aren’t going anywhere

Those of you who know me will know my Recruiting background.  Started in a Recruitment Agency, well fell into it, as we all do.  Went to an in-house role for 8 years, somehow ended up back in Agency land again, and am now back in-house.

One of the things I learned whilst working in house was the utter despising of Recruiting Agencies by most people I came across, both from the business point of view and the candidates.  I had been blinkered maybe, “Did people dislike me that much when I was working for an agency?” Well I didn’t think it was me, but the function.  Really?  Sadly the answer was YES.

The reasons are not too hard to fathom.  So many cowboys and cowgirls out there, giving everyone a bad name.  It is the industry where a quick and hefty buck can be made, and I’m sure we all know a few or know of a few that have done that.  I knew a guy who placed the same person into a permanent role 3 times in a year! Twice in the same company, just asked her to go by her maiden name the second time around so as to not arise suspicion.  He made a fee each time upwards of $20k (in the days of 3 month replacements), and would brag about it.  I’ve heard of agents blatantly using their sexuality to try to get work to the point of offering “the full service” for work. I had a boss, who actually tell a young “lady” that she’d better go to the ladies to fix her dress as the straps kept falling off, “it’s not accidentally happening” he was told.. (True story)  Worse, agents, who once in to a company try to pilfer people out once they’ve sniffed around a little and learned the lay of the land.  Heard of one agency, threaten to “empty your car park” if said company wouldn’t use their services!

These type of stories, along with what can and has been perceived as the exorbitant pricing has started a shift away from the model, with more and more in-house teams popping up (bragging about their lack of need for agencies), LinkedIn’s Recruiter tools and “Social Recruiting, have left some doomsayers predicting the death of agencies as we know them.

In past lives as an in-house recruiter it was inconceivable that I would use Agencies, roles I couldn’t fill would remain unfilled and pressure would just build up on my team.  The amount of cold calls, warm calls and reverse marketing calls I would have to knock back probably didn’t do much for my popularity in the Recruitment world.  It was a directive from the people that paid my salary, an unbreakable rule, and we were able to deliver most of the time.  (* I remember telling one boss that he was notorious in the IT Recruitment industry for being a hard ass and putting people through the ringer.  I used to put his name deliberately on young Recruiters working for me who’d made too much money and were over confident, just to bring them down a peg so I could work with them once more!)  I have however recently broken out of that mould a little bit.  Of course there is a need and a place for this multi-billion dollar (Euro, Peso etc) industry.

I don’t see a need to use them in my day to day “normal” hiring, you know those role types that I will need to fill 80-90% of the time.  That is for me to build a successful, engaged and prepared talent pool of people who are already through our process, who just need the final tick to get started.  That is my core business, that’s where we should be spending most of our time and money.  If I used Agencies for this, then why would my company pay my salary?

However, for those “different” roles, for sectors of the market where I/we don’t have expertise, don’t have the network, where there is a speed to fill urgency, why wouldn’t I use an Agency?  Take on a Contracting resource makes a hell of a lot of sense to me.  I did come up with some raised eyebrows from the powers that be, until that is I reminded them of one thing… I got to set the rules!  I can choose who I deal with and who I don’t, it’s based on my relationships.  If a company calls me up, at a time when I have a need, promise the world and then don’t deliver, that’ll leave a bad taste, and I get to choose if I deal with them again or not.  If a company is perceived to be acting unscrupulously, then… I get to choose whether to work with them again or not.  If I see them advertising on a job board for my role, guess what? I get to choose whether to work with them again or nor.  I get to set the buy rate (I honestly don’t care what margin the agency makes, it’s none of my business, as long as everyone is happy), to ensure that the arrangement is still profitable for us.  It’s a no lose situation.

If you’re smart you can also get a fair bit of industry knowledge of your Recruiter (if they are any good), I have in the past felt a little insular, a little blinkered to the wider market when sitting in an in-house role, my focus (rightly or wrongly) being on my company alone.  Recruiters should have a great deal of industry knowledge in their mind, they are talking to companies, people and yes competitors on a daily basis.  Why not get an industry overview from?

This model has been a paradigm shift for my company, and so far it seems to be working well.  We’ve formed some strong working relationships, we’ve hired some great contractors in a very timely fashion and solved both our and our clients problems in the process.  I am yet to feel or perceive the “stereo-typical” Recruiter push or sleaze (for lack of a better term).  I’m using Recruitment agencies as another channel to market, you cannot know everything and everyone.  You know what? It hasn’t diminished the value in what the Recruiting team provides in my company, it’s actually allowed us to solve more problems.

With most businesses, Recruitment Agencies should exist to solve a businesses problems.  Do that, agency land, and you will be here to stay (nobody say like cockroaches!)

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Sucking Eggs, correctly

“Yeah I’ve Recruited before. I had to hire people for my team. I know what you do, its your core job, what do you mean you cannot hire everyone we think we need? I mean I know how difficult it can be at times. But I read the news, I know what is going on in the world, this isn’t one of those times. You’re job must be easy now. There must be candidates everywhere, I mean how hard can it be to hire in a recession”

Ahhhh I love being in the Recruitment world. Especially in a Corporate environment, we’re lucky really. We have so many people who can and will offer you advice. In fact nearly every single person in the organisation will have an opinion as to how and where and how quickly you should be hiring. There seems to be an omnipotence as far as a knowledge of this mythical thing called “the market”.

One of the most challenging parts of any Recruitment role I believe is client education. Getting them to listen to the real version of the market (well according to me anyways) as opposed to the media beat up, hyperbole and assumptions that people are prone to. Don’t make excuses, just tell it how it is. Do you know it is not “just you” who can’t find the people they want? Try to back it up with more than just anecdotes. They’ll think you are just making excuses.

This has been one of my bug bears for a number of years, here are a few points I’ve used to try to combat my lemon sucking lessons. (My other Bugbear, joke! I’ve always wondered what a bugbear was.. thanks Google)

1/ Listen
2/ Be open and transparent
3/ Be honest
4/ Be factual and clear, most C level people have a decent BS monitor.
5/ Get some facts and stats to back up your argument
6/ Forward articles agreeing with your point of view.
7/ Remind people that being made redundant is not a blot on your career. It’s like blogging. It just happens.
8/ Advise to not opportunistically hire people at a lower rate than you should do, just because you can, keep your employer brand intact. (Bad business karma I think)
9/ Find different ways, mediums to get your message across
10/ Be consistent and strong, don’t be bullied into agreeing into something you don’t agree with.
11/ Actively look for effective cost savings
12/ Get C levels involved in using technology to help (ie show possibilities of Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin etc)
13/ Know (and be active in) your “market”, your demographic, your region
14/ Prove you know it. Be involved with all areas of the business, add value to discussions which will show you understand the market, the movements and the players in it. (ie know client or competitor is laying people off in a certain area or hiring even)
15/ Don’t be afraid to annoy and challenge some people
16/ Be Patient and calm
17/ Find a sponsor in the business
18/ Don’t be arrogant, defensive or too aggressive
19/ BE RIGHT!
20/ FIND A WAY TO FIND AND HIRE THOSE IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND PEOPLE ANYWAY

I’m sure there would be more, but these are the ones off the top of my head. Please let me know ideas

There is also the final little known clause… avoid the “I told you so dance” when you are proven correct.

Two things to live by… Add VALUE, let your bosses look good by giving them all the information they could require if pushed by Boards or other C level executives.

DELIVER, find a way. Continuously being able to solve business problems with your skill in finding the right people at the right time, will give you and your theories (or excuses if you want) that much more credibility.

………and finally, remember, you all want the same thing, to hire quality people, at the right quantity at the right time for the future success of a project, a team, a department, a business. Find a way to start acting like it.

Being a General in the War for Talent during an Armistice

During the last few months I have been thinking, studying and reviewing the role of Internal Recruitment within my organisation. It has been a really interesting, revealing and introspective journey. Especially with focus sharpening in the areas of the business which are not what some people would consider as core.

Was I over complicating things? We have our systems, our processes, our metrics. We achieve the corporate goals, the company is making money….. don’t look too hard huh?

So with the aim of simplication, how do I describe my role? My teams function in our organisation? Once upon a time I wrote that I wanted to be a General in the War for Talent… but what good is a General in a detente, or armistice? We are Ambassadors to the outside world for the organisation, we are the Custodians of the culture. Which is more important or significant? We drive and maintain the culture of the company. Is there anything more important than the culture of your organisation? What is the affect of hiring people who just don’t culturally fit in, as opposed to those without maybe the specific technical abilities, but a cultural DNA matches? I know which one I’d prefer to have. I know which one my organisation would prefer to have.

When hiring for my team I have to ensure that people embody the culture, not people who can articulate it, people who can live it, breathe it, prove it, be it… in other words not just talk the talk… the WALK is essential. People, perspective employees can spot insincerity. Imagine having a company “sold” to you, with the virtues of fun, dynamic, innovative, enthusiastic people by a person, who won’t look you in the eye, only read off a script, not engage you and cannot crack a smile to break the ice… hmmmm genuine culture or facade? or even worse think it is their job in an interview to grill or intimidate candidates?

If as an organisation, we can define our culture, live it and believe in it. If it has become a genuine competitive advantage to the organisation, what could be a more important role in the company? Those who are entrusted with the Custodianship of the culture, what could be more CORE business than that?

KISS (keep it simple stupid) principle, pays off once more… Thank you Mr Kiss 🙂