The Resurrection of the Specialist Recruiter (who never actually died!)

The Resurrection of the Specialist Recruiter (who never actually died!)

Author: Matt Kirk.

The word ‘Specialist’ is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. Every agency recruiter seems to ‘specialise’ in something (in most cases more than one thing) so when you hear the inevitable noun that is now synonymous with us (recruiters) you can almost sense the inaudible groan on the other end of the line or the look of ‘I’ve heard it all before’ as you sit across from your potential client.

The reputation and stereotype of recruiters have been severely tarnished by poor service, inability to deliver on promises and the notion that ‘we just want the fee’. Recruiters give recruiters a bad name.

Oh, and the fact that the guy you hired from us to fix your problem either 1. Cannot actually fix your problem or 2. Has disrupted the team so badly your best developers have left, leaving you looking down the barrel of a wasted fee and the promise that you ‘will never use an agency again’ as you bang your clenched fist on the nearest desk.

Fast forward one month, you have managed to put an advert together and have interviewed 8 direct applicants for the position(s) that are now vacant due to your last agency experience. ‘Great!’ But there’s something still missing. They’re not quite right culturally and you can’t afford a repeat of what happened last time.

Meanwhile, your phone is ringing non-stop and every time you answer you hear the inevitable noun that now has a similar connotation to ‘he who shall not be named’ (Voldemort for the non-Potter fans).

You need people quick but can’t bypass the fact you’re in this situation (partially) due to your last agency experience. So, you finally agree to entertain them but only at ‘cheap rates’ (30-50% off what you were last working with) and they say yes because the market is very competitive and they can tell their overly KPI driven boss that they have signed terms with a company who are hiring!

Fast forward another month, you are now working with three agencies at said rates and have managed to fill 1 of the 3 positions available. Was the person completely right? No, but they were close enough and if you have to wade through another 30+CVs without finding anybody suitable you might have a nervous breakdown. How hard is it to find the right people for your team?

Your phone rings again, you answer.

Now think back to that “specialist” vying for your business, the feeling of groundhog-day once again. But hold on, this seems different – this person seems like they know what they’re talking about. ‘Yes, I have had issues with agencies in the past, but ok, I can spare 30 minutes and meet with you tomorrow.’

Tomorrow comes and you’re not sure what to expect. There’s an element of intrigue coupled with the lingering thought of ‘here we go again’. But alas, the 30 minutes turns into one hour, you find yourself talking about the position in explicit detail and feel this person has a clear understanding of what you need technically and culturally. That lingering doubt is starting to dissipate on the promise of a shortlist of potential candidates in 48 hours – they have people in mind and already given you a brief overview of why they would be a good fit. You haven’t even seen their CV but they sound great!

Then you talk rates.

‘But I’m working with other agencies at 10%, it’s difficult for me to go any higher.’

‘Well I’m sorry Mr Client but as someone who truly understands my market and values my work, I can’t work at that’.

You come to a deal – you interview one candidate, they fit exactly what you are looking for. You hire them, it’s a smoother process than you could have ever imagined. You pay the rates originally asked for, confident you are paying for quality. This is what you were hoping for way back when, and your hiring nightmare now seems like a distant memory.

Fast forward three months, the final two positions were filled two months ago and they have settled in extremely well. This last year has been tough but you know exactly who to go to when you’re next recruiting. (Hint – it may not be the guys at 10 %.)

The moral of the story is that recruiters who value what they do and take pride in their work are still out there in force, but it’s increasingly difficult for clients to really see the value in using external agencies due to those that want a quick win at any cost.

Unfortunately, most of that ‘cost’ is service, which is exactly what people pay for and leads me nicely on to my next post in a few weeks.

Ultimately the good ones are here and trust me, the legend of ‘he who cannot be named’ still lives on.