Why contingent recruitment has had its day

Many hiring managers turn to contingent recruiters when a vacancy is high for their business. But is relying on people that are essentially working for free the best way to source potential employees? In this blog we’ll be discussing why contingent recruitment has had its day:

The race against time

Clients unfamiliar with traditional recruitment practices could be forgiven for thinking it would make sense to brief more than one recruiter per vacancy. Heck if their services are free unless they place what’s the harm in briefing five recruiters?

If recruiters are put head to head on a vacancy it becomes a race to get a candidate’s CV across to the hiring manager before the competition does. Receiving applications in a timely manner may sound like the ideal situation for a client, however consider the amount of vetting that agencies who operate contingently are likely to do before sending across the CV. When first to the finish line wins the fee, what corners are going to be cut?

And if this doesn’t already sound like a recipe for disaster imagine what happens when recruiters are fighting over the same candidate. Who would you rather pay? The recruiter who sends the CV across first but hasn’t briefed the candidate properly (let alone asked for consent to represent) or the conscientious recruiter who’s taken time to go through the role in depth, collected references and has written consent from the candidate.

Unfortunately, in the contingent recruitment race, nice guys (and gals) tend to finish last.

Lack of buy-in from both sides

It’s common knowledge that contingent recruiters only get paid if they place a candidate. So, in theory it’s a win-win for clients is it not? You can spend 10 minutes of your time chatting with recruiters about your vacancy and wait for the CVs to roll into your inbox. If you don’t like what you see, you don’t pay. If you do like, you’ve scored yourself a quality candidate.

If only it was that simple.

Unfortunately, similarly to “no win, no fee” solicitors, sometimes you really do get what you pay for (or don’t, depending on how you look at it.) Recruiters working contingently will only give you a small slice of their time. Because there’s no guarantee they’ll make a fee from a vacancy, recruitment consultants need to ensure they are working on a number of vacancies a week to increase their chances of making a placement.

Mixed messages

Don’t get me wrong, there are quality contingent recruiters out there. However, if you don’t arm them with the information they need, how will they succeed in their quest for the best candidate? Many hiring managers don’t take the time to meet each and every contingent recruiter they work with. Some don’t see this as a priority, especially if it’s for a one-off vacancy. Others think a phone call will suffice. Which it may well do, however a rushed phone call sandwiched between meetings is not going to enable a recruiter to gather all the information they require to effectively and accurately promote your role.

And when you add several recruiters into the mix, all with similar yet slightly different rushed verbal briefs, competing to find a candidate you’re likely to interview your vacancy, company and brand inevitably get lost in translation.

A multitude of unfortunate scenarios can happen if you don’t take the time to properly brief your contingent recruiter. These can range from receiving candidates who don’t fit your criteria to offering the role to a candidate who has been sold their dream and finds out too late that their recruiter was creative with the truth. And let’s not get started on how detrimental ill-informed recruiters can be to your employer brand.

“Good on paper”

These days, contingent recruiters rarely get the opportunity to talk through their shortlist of candidates with their client. And it’s becoming increasingly common for large organisations to strip all forms of communication completely from the process by using an ATS system that recruiters submit their candidate CVs to.

And even if you do manage to catch a hiring manager on a good day, coffee in hand, they’re only interested in facts and figures. They want to be able to quantify what a candidate has achieved for their previous employers; they preferably need to have worked for similar companies and every ounce of time needs to be accounted for since they completed their studies.

Which is fair enough, but what about the wild cards? What about the candidates who have the potential to be exceptional, who only tick 3 out of the 5 necessary requirements but are fuelled by sheer enthusiasm and will work twice as hard as any other candidate? Contingent recruiters strive so hard to find a candidate who looks perfect on paper and is a 100% guarantee for an interview. But does that necessarily mean they’re the best candidate for the job?

In the end, nobody wins

As a client how would you feel knowing that quality candidates being sent to you, were also being sent to your competition? How certain would you be that your recruiter would promote your job offer over another, if you’ve drilled down their fees?

Good contingent recruiters cannot afford to send a candidate to just one vacancy. In such a candidate driven market recruiters often take quality candidates ‘to market’ rather than waiting for vacancies to drop into their inbox.

What’s the alternative?

Offer your vacancy to one firm exclusively. Even better, partner with a reputable recruitment company and pay them for doing the work in stages. If you’ve taken anything from this article this should go without saying but don’t drill down on fees. Researching, interviewing, searching and scheduling all take time, effort and skill to do well. If you want a job doing well, you need to pay for it.

Give honest feedback in a timely manner to the recruiter and have them feedback to candidates. Invite them to your office, let them immerse themselves in your brand. Offering recruiters the opportunity to work at your office is a win-win on both accounts. They will learn your business inside and out, and you might even learn a few things off them too.

Sick of being given the run around by average contingent recruiters? Find out more about how we’re revolutionising recruitment on our solutions page.

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