By Mark Evarts, Tomahawk Recruitment, February 15, 2019
Hi, my name is Mark, I’m a recruiter, and I’m here to confirm that recruiters are waste of money. Well mostly anyway. I’ve experienced it many times first-hand as a candidate, an employer and a colleague at a recruitment agency. Often candidates are treated as numbers and clients are treated purely as a revenue stream - with a smattering of lip service.
Generally, it’s not the recruiters’ fault either. Here’s where I see the issue lies:
Emphasis on Sales
‘Some’ recruitment agencies place a greater emphasis on sales than fulfilling on their promises. This is driven mainly by high overheads and good old-fashioned greed. Unfortunately, the only winners here are those who stand to directly gain from the profits of the agency (i.e. generally not the actual recruiters). I think it’s also related to most agencies only billing once a candidate is placed creating pressure on placement rather than allowing the time to fully explore options, get to know the client and company in depth and find someone who’s a perfect fit – close enough is usually good enough.
As a fallout from a sales emphasis, recruiters (especially those at large agencies), are often given unrealistic targets. Most of these are sales oriented, but there also unrealistic placement fulfilment targets that can result in unethical practises. These recruiters often work in a ‘churn and burn’ environment because if they aren’t willing to do ‘what’s required’, there are plenty of others waiting for their opportunity in the glamourous world of recruitment.
Large recruitment agencies have high overheads such as premises, high staffing due to inefficient processes, advertising, etc, which is passed on to the client. It ends up being a viscous cycle as the agency needs to show the client that they’re not being ripped off, so offset this by employing junior recruiters.
Using Juniors and Inexperienced Leadership
Often recruitment agencies employ juniors managed by inexperienced leaders to conduct most of the recruitment activity (including candidate liaison), thereby keeping costs down. Whilst clients deal with a front person who sells a value proposition. The work is often then conducted by junior employees and temps who sometimes have less experience, care, time, or resources than your very own admin team.
Little to no emphasis is placed on ‘smart’ ways to find valuable recruits. Remember, recruiters aren’t hard to come by, so why waste valuable resources looking outside the box when you can use your current resources to burn the midnight oil.
Talent That’s Outside the Box
Recruiters aren’t paid to be visionaries and tend to work within tried and tested models (i.e. key word searches, compliance to job specifications, etc). The reason for this is that it produces results in a mass volume environment.
The problem is most recruitment processes and models are outdated. What’s behind the words on the page, what makes a person tick, what is it that someone is truly capable of? I can tell you from my 35+ years employment history, that recruiters almost never knew what to do with me or where to place me. In fact, ALL of my most valued and successful roles were offered to me by entrepreneurs and leaders who had the vision to see what I could bring versus replicating what I’ve already done.
Inflated and Hidden Fees
Large recruitment agencies often charge on a commission basis (e.g. recruitment fees equalling 15-22% of base of even total salary packages). Now, you could argue that the level of care would be greater, but does the amount of effort increase when hiring someone who is on $150k versus $100k?. Is your recruiter able to itemise those fees? Would we accept this type of arrangement in other industries? I’ve worked in many industries and in many roles, none of which charged service that were a percentage of the product cost.
Now, I’m not talking about all recruiters. In particular, executive recruiters don’t fit this model, but then they tend to charge like wounded bulls for that privilege. If you can find a recruiter who operates on a high level of integrity, as well as respect both clients and candidates, and provides a quality service, then keep them very close as they are worth gold.