Consider the following scenario. On Monday morning, a candidate
posts his resume on the Internet. Within minutes, the resume is
consumed by five different recruiters, who immediately "submit" the
resume to the same company via e-mail attachment. The question is:
Which recruiter now has "ownership" of the candidate?
None of them. Why? Because the sixth person to find the candidate's
resume happens to be the company's own staff recruiter, who
deliberately leaves his email unopened. Since none of the
"submitted" resumes were under consideration, it's the staff
recruiter who "owns" the candidate from the perspective of the
company, which neatly sidesteps the obligation to pay a fee. The
five heartbroken recruiters may cry foul, especially since
"ownership" of the candidate's resume is their only claim to fame.
But in truth, what did any of them do to deserve a fee?
Nothing. In this particular case, the five recruiters failed to do
that which the company was unable or unwilling to do for itself;
namely, to quickly surface a qualified candidate. It seems the
company was fully capable, thank you very much, of performing the
Barbarians at the Gate
By definition, the purpose of delegating the recruiting function to
a third party is to gain assistance, not enter into a fractious
competition. For every recruiter who fights for a fee that's based
on a mere technicality (as in, "We found the candidate's resume on
the Web five minutes before you did!"), take a hard look at what
you're doing. Quite possibly, you're creating a nuisance and
cheapening the perception of your value.
With recruiters and employers competing for the same pool of
public-domain candidates, it's no wonder so many companies have
assumed a siege mentality. Backed into a posture of self-defense,
they've erected a fortress called the "agency agreement," a
formidable contract designed to maintain their control over
candidate ownership rights through rigorous recruiter submission
procedures and restrictive access to managers.
To all the despairing recruiters who complain that "The resume was
already on file"; or "Twenty recruiters got to the candidate's
resume before me," you have my sympathy. But the reality of the
situation is, if you're not adding value, there's a good chance your
services are unnecessary and unwanted.
Create Distinction to Avoid Extinction
Suppose you can find high-quality candidates by methods unknown or
inaccessible to your clients or your competition. If that's the
case, congratulations. Your contribution to the recruiting process
has obvious merit. But if you're simply recycling the same people as
everyone else-or trying to make a career from being first in
line-you'd better be prepared to lose out on a lot of placements.
There's more to recruiting than finding a resume on the Internet, or
anywhere else, for that matter. To command respect and truly earn
your fee, focus on the true benefits you bring to the hiring
process, such as:
Expertise. As a niche market specialist, you have the
means to grasp the essence of each search, and quickly identify the
best sources of talent. In so doing, you'll refer the most qualified
candidates for the job, and reduce the time it takes to hire.
Sole-Source Simplicity. To avoid confusion and duplication
of effort, many managers prefer to limit the number of recruiters
they use. If you can provide fast, seamless service, then you can
add value by establishing a preferred vendor relationship.
Heavy lifting. Cold-call recruiting is nerve-wracking and
scary. But isn't telephone bravery one of the main reasons
recruiters earn the big bucks? If your clients had the stomach for
cold-calling-or if every qualified candidate could be found
online-no one would need your service.
Insight. A perceptive recruiter has the ability to look
beneath the surface of a resume and identify a candidate's true
assets and liabilities. By exercising good judgment with respect to
candidate screening, you'll save the hiring manager's time and help
shape the decision to hire.
As raw data becomes more available to everyone, try to put into
perspective the actual reason for your existence. If you, your
clients and your competition are all delegating to the same source
the Internet-the more you risk redundancy and become expendable.
Only by increasing your value will you earn the respect you deserve
and the income that's rightfully yours.