Idealpeople Blog: It's because he's in a Ferrari...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's because he's in a Ferrari...

Would Lewis Hamilton win if he was driving a Toyota instead of a speedy McLaren? Would Jenson Button win if he was driving a McLaren instead of a slow Honda? When looking at the success of any team made up of two discrete units, it's important to know which component is adding the most value.

The same applies to Recruitment Consultants and their Employers.

This dilemma is common in many tertiary sector industries but even more so in recruitment. The question, as a user of recruitment services, is: Which entity is adding the most value to my recruitment campaign, the consultant or the company they work for? When you consider that most good consultants make/receive the initial call from company X with vacancy, take the requirement, locate suitable candidates, arrange meetings, close offers, smooth problems and ensures that the person stays, is this primarily down to the company you're dealing with (their training, approach, ethics etc) or is it an example of a brilliant recruiter working for a not-so-brilliant company?

This question gets even more interesting when you consider that many organisations have a list of recruitment companies they use which they will not avert from. It's classic loyalty-based purchasing (maybe you caught ITV's Tonight on this exact subject a week or so ago). That's fine, but the problem with using loyalty as a yardstick when assessing recruitment partners is the general high staff turnover seen throughout the industry, which means that more often than not, you end up working with a different "Account Manager" to the one who gave you the great service in the first place - meaning that loyalty is sometimes completely mis-placed. Consultants moving between rival companies have to deal with restricted covenants in their contracts, so chances are that (legally at least) - as a customer, you have no choice other than to stick with the agency. Moving forwards though, who should you stick by? The Consultant or the company? How much should loyalty figure in your partnership decisions?

There are things you can look out for which will shed light on how whether the service you get is coming from the agency or the Consultant:

1)Do you receive CVs or have interviews arranged when your contact is on holiday? If so, you are working with a company who has some sort of continuity plan in place and/or a group of consultants who work together. Both good things.

2)Documentation. A company should provide tools to make the consultants and your lives easier. What standardised documentation are you seeing? (e.g. CV overview cover sheets, vacancy value propositions, corporate brochures, tailored recruitment branding literature for your company, standardised employment references etc)

3) Pro-active candidate sourcing/event sponsorship. Is your recruitment firm giving your consultant the power to get the exposure you need in your market? A good recruitment company will be offering its consultants the financial backing and opportunity to be making a splash at industry events to increase your campaigns coverage and the consultant's credibility to candidates.

4) Who have you met? A good consultant will try and meet clients he or she believes he will be working with for an extended period and/or intensively. If you have met your consultant, whom else did you meet? MD's are usually fairly busy people but it's fair to say that the more senior the contacts you met were, the more time will be dedicated to filling your roles.

The moral of story - be careful who you share your loyalty with.

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