Market Perception (What is the impact of your recruitment process?)
Over the nine years I’ve been in the Australian recruitment market, and like many I went into recruitment as they were giving 457 visas out like candy. Over this time, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity (or the curse depending on who you are) to work in the exact same space. This has allowed me to watch numerous companies trial numerous recruitment models, as well as the short term and long-term impact of these choices.
When I speak around market perception, I’m talking about your company’s perception in the marketplace. Employer branding is a current buzz word that gets thrown quite a bit. When I and probably many recruiters qualify a client, often I ask myself “if I ask 10 candidates to come work for this company with no financial incentive or progression, how many would say yes?” If you ask 10 sales reps within the tech space to come work at Google rather than their current company, I’m sure I’d come out determining that their market perception was quite strong.
Now that we’re all on the same page. How does recruitment impact this?
This is a big one. Many candidates always keep an eye on job boards and are aware of who’s looking and who’s not within their industry. Even the ones who don’t, speak with the colleagues that do.
Because of this awareness, recruiting is the same dynamics of any other sales call. Have you ever had a sales rep calling you repeatedly putting you off more and more each time? “Don’t they have something better to do?” Don’t they have any other clients to sell too? I hear comment throughout my week saying, “they’ve been trying to find someone for that role for months?” or “What’s wrong with that company? They seem to be constantly advertising. “Simply put; the more ads that go up, the more desperate you look.
I'm not saying you should never advertise, because trying to find someone who is actively looking and managing that process is certainly one of the most cost-effective ways to recruit. While I encourage you to interview any active search candidate as often as possible, they may have short-term motivations such as "I have to pay my bills," or "I hate my boss". This will encourage short-term thinking and you may be able to serve as a stepping stone to the company or position that is right for them.
So if I were to give a major piece of advice, it would be: "Be aware of the amount of advertising you place and the candidates you meet through this method. You risk saturating the market with your ad and tarnishing your brand image. »
If you see things in the longer term, favour an agency that is well-chosen and met with, will allow you to support a well-thought-out brand image, while recruiting the right person for the long term.
2. Using an external agency
Well given I am one, I’m sure there will be a few pro agency points in here, and to be honest for many situations I think it is the right way to go. But the bigger questions are:
How many agencies?
When do you give up on my ad?
What rate I do negociate?
All questions above are important decisions and will drastically impact your market perception.
How many agencies?
This question is tough as it ultimately depends on the size of your market and how likely you will have recruiters running into each other. If you are a Service Manager out in Orange, NSW looking for a local service technician with 5 years’ experience in process valves, I’d suggest one who knows the industry. If I didn’t have contacts within external recruitment, I may release to two, so they compete with the carrot of exclusivity on the next role. If I was looking for an open experience junior customer service role within Sydney CBD, I’d probably release it to many.
Like ads, this is about limiting your approaches to an individual. A choice in your career is something that has a major impact on someone’s life. Because of this, a lot of emotions come into play. Besides the issue of consultants fighting over fees and candidates, you also have a major issue of two consultants approaching the same candidate. This again reeks like desperation and disorganisation. Clients have often asked me to take on roles after numerous agencies have not delivered, and what I find is inconsistent messages to the market. Candidates that have deferring job spec ideas or company profiles who are now completely turned off the idea of the company. Or alternatively, have been approached and never followed up on which has reflected on the company itself rather than the external agent.
I think the big thing to take out of above is that releasing roles to numerous unqualified recruiters has consequences so impactful to your market perception that you may have to settle for your next hire. Besides ruining your market perception or “employer branding” you will also limit your possibilities of securing a good recruiter as most will not have time to waste on tarnished position when they have client retainer them for exclusive positions.
When do I give up on my ad?
This is a bit clearer to me. If you want to secure a market leading consultant to cover your position, I’d suggest you cut ties with your advertisement once it expires (most are 30 days) and fully release the position to an agent. This will be a strong bargaining chip for your negotiation with the recruiter as well. Recruiters are people, and people hate rejection. Even the ones that deal with it, still don’t like it. When you release a position to one recruiter who now is not worrying about “did they see the ad” or “did they apply already” allows them to sell confidently. A confident salesperson is a successful salesperson. You certainly don’t want your recruiter going into a call starting with “I’m wondering if you’ve already applied to blah blah?” This happens all day long. Recruiters care about making a placement and their reputation in the industry. If you release a role to someone that believes it may tarnish their name, they will trash you just to gain rapport with the candidate. “well I’ve got this role with blah blah but I’m sure you’re not interested in them. Let’s talk about what you want?”
To sum this up, release your position to one trusted recruiter or alternatively two recruiters to ensure they’re motivated and competing against one another. Ensure they are both briefed fully to control the message to the market and be open with who else you’re working with to create a cohesive approach to the marketplace.
What rate do I negotiate?
This is an interesting one. We are consultants. The good consultants with options will always evaluate our time/fee ratio. If we go off a standard Supply and Demand scenario, you will limit your options the less of a fee you offer. The great thing about a fragmented industry like recruitment is there’s always a desperate recruiter that has no work. The lower the rate you offer, the higher the chance of your brand reputation is getting ruined. You’ve either released it to agencies who will drop it on their junior consultant to learn form or alternatively you have an experienced recruiter who has it sitting on the bottom of their priorities or a: dumping ground” where they send candidates who have rejected their other positions. Either way, your message to the market will be completely tarnished.
In Summary, if I was working as an HR consultant in a company after knowing what I know I would:
- Try to fill the role from internal referrals and limit my messaging to the marketplace.
- Put an ad up on every job board for 30 days.
- Release it to 2 agencies and tell them who each other are. This would be for competition and cohesion of the message in the marketplace. Potentially commit to one once they’ve proven themselves.
- I would meet them both and spend as much time as possible to ensure I would control the message in the marketplace.
- I would ask both to not speak about the company until the candidate was 100% qualified to limit the volume of messaging to the marketplace.
- I would pay them about the 60% percentile of the market to ensure they were motivated to sell my position first.
In conclusion, I'm not saying that going through an agency is indispensable, nor that it's always beneficial. However, if you are struggling with your own research and are thinking of using a consulting agency, it is important that you have all the cards in your hand to use this solution properly. Understanding that the agency must be well chosen and especially in line with your vision of things seems essential to me.
The perception of the market is then an essential key that determines the way you act and promote your business.