You brought some trouble to our name...

In the recurring theme of many of my blogs is the exploration of the tension between agency and in house recruitment teams.  This may be perception, reality or probably a combination of the two.

Personally I know I have that ‘tension’ with certain agency contacts.  In the main it’s because they don’t listen.  They adopt arcane behaviours,  spamming managers with CV’s no one wants, damaging the reputation of what in most cases are decent enough candidates, only we don’t actually want them and if we did we would find them ourselves.  Conversely I know I have no tension with a handful of professional agency contacts, they keep in touch with me whether I want their candidates or not, update me on industry trends and build a relationship.  As I have said before they are in the minority.

We go round this topic again and again.  I actively and proactively talk to agency directors, mostly about the behaviours of their staff that are starting to cause more of a challenge than before.  You see I can live with the cold calls from inexperienced consultants explaining to me that they are great and that the IT industry that I have worked in throughout the whole of my career is changing, or needs x skill, or that I ‘need’ to recruit people based on the fact that my team are in house so can’t make proactive calls to potential candidates...(my favourite).  I can live with the emails with CV’s attached and the hidden names so they ‘protect’ their candidates identity.  In fact on a daily basis I can put up with a lot.  No harm is done and I can find the delete button in my inbox easily.

But I can only live with it until you bring me trouble.

When you talk to a candidate, tell them that my organisation are interested in them and then flounder around trying to find a home for them in an organisation that doesn’t want them and more importantly didn’t ask you to find them.  So let's look at that again.  You spoke to a candidate, told them we were interested and spammed us with your their CV.  What does this do for our reputation and yours?

Going through this reality based scenario the candidate gets little or no feedback and the agency blames my team for being poor communicators.  More damage to my brand.  But as this is happening more and more, it damages your brand too.  Candidates deserve transparency.  If you can help them and you have opportunities for them then great, go ahead.  If not say so.  We will both look better then.

The employment brand is king and i’m not sure in their desire to make some cash that the agencies have spotted this.  I don’t blame them of course, it’s not their fault.   They were too busy spamming and cold calling to spot it.  They were too busy doing things for themselves rather than the clients they support.  But now they know the reality and you know what it’s not just my brand that has suffered it is theirs as well.

Now this isn’t some ivory tower lecture on how all in house teams are virtuous and agencies are crap but the subtle different still remains.   I get paid for leading a team of people that will attract, assess and employ people.  If I get it wrong my business suffers.   I don't just mean that I have a miffed candidate on my hands but that tangible business can be lost as a result with wider reaching consequences than just the single transaction the agency has been chasing.

That additional responsibility makes all the difference and is why like it or not I get to call the shots on what I am looking for in our relationship.

So what do we do?

Well as ever there is a broad brush taken to talking about external suppliers.  Some really are not the same as the rest.  Those that do engage and I mean engage, daily, consistently and with clear outcomes defined continue to successfully place people in the organisation.  They protect my employment brand, they protect their own.  Maybe that is the secret, they hire like they are hiring for themselves and the result is we all win.

I don’t have the answer but I am happy to put some effort in to find one.  The question is will you?


P.S.  Back in January 2012 I wrote a post inviting people to a 'talk'.  What with one thing and another and nearly a year on I haven't actually done it.  But there is an opportunity to join me and many other industry speakers this wednesday 7th November 2012 at the UK recruiter end of year conference.  See you there.