February 16, 2008

Playing in the Sandbox... Part II

(NOTE: This is a continuance of my first blog "Playing in the Sandbox Part I")

And, what is the easiest way to understand what makes the Third-Party Recruiting (TPR) world tic?

1) Easy, they are selling a product. Some are selling a relationship, and some are peddling candidates. They have to hustle - they are working against the clock, in a dynamic, faster than light world.

2) They have to be resilient and persistent. At a minimum, a TPR has to be resilient to listen to 100's of "no's" from candidates and clients alike. So, they keep on calling.

3) For as good as any recruiter might be, there is always an element of timing. Timing to land a candidate who is finally looking for their next opportunity; the timing to connect with an elusive HR department. Hence, the value of persistence and resilience.

4) Turnover in the staffing world is very high. When I started my career in the staffing world, with one of the premier companies in the world, by six months, I was a veteran. By year two; I was a leader. It is tough, competitive, unforgiving world of long, long, long (did I say long?) hours. Compensation is feast or famine - you only get the paid on a search after you make a placement - and then you can keep it if the candidate stays in role for at least six months to a year.

What are my hints to work effectively with a TPR?

1) Help them to be successful – give them insight into the role and hiring team so they can get the best candidates to you early. And, give them feedback during the process, too.

2) Set expectations – for instance, let them know the best way to get in touch with you, and when. Outline your interview schedule; turn around on submissions and feedback, and the expected time to generate an offer. This not only helps the TPR coach the candidate and keep them engaged, but also will help the TPR gauge their communications with you.

3) Be respectful of submissions: honor time stamps of submissions if you are working with multiple vendors or validating against your database. Don’t allow a one TPR to backdoor another.

4) Honor your contract: unless you have very special, extenuating circumstances, don’t try to renegotiate terms after a candidate has been placed. Negotiate up front, before you sign. It is a legal document.

5) Don’t backdoor your TPR: Don’t accept a resume from a TPR and they try source the candidate on your own – even if a hiring manager asks you to do so!

In short, the life of a TPR is hard work, long hours, and one of the most grueling sales positions you could imagine. They aren’t trying to pester, but rather close the deal.

Finally, it isn't just the TPR/Corporate HR relationship in pain. It has become a Recruiter/Candidate dynamic, too. For instance, when I run into old-time friends and go through the catch-up of our lives; it is not untypical to get a reaction to the fact that I'm a recruiter. Typically with a drone, a roll of the eyes followed by a biting comment like, "oh I've worked with recruiters, before, and let me tell you about.... (enter some horrible recruiter story here)..."

My first reaction is listen. Then, when they are done, I empathize and let them know how sorry I am to hear about that situation. Yes, I agree, there are some doozies out there... but, "let me tell you about this GREAT recruiter I know..."