Skip to main content
In this article
Share this article with others

Are You Going To Buy a Blue Mercedes If You Want a Red BMW?

Published 03 September 2020

I just want to give some context as to why a company decides to engage a recruitment business. It’s simple, they know they haven’t got the expertise in the sector to recruit the best talent. They haven’t got time, it is confidential or they have tried recruiting it themselves and haven’t found the right person. So they are looking to work with an expert recruitment partner who can deliver, they are paying a fee so they have the right to set the criteria and expect a certain level of service.

I have been in recruitment for over 30 years and I am disappointed to hear from candidates the poor experiences they have had with some of my profession but we are not all cut from the same cloth. I would like to think that we are good at communication and feedback however I’m sure at some point we will have not given the high level of service we aspire to. We are human after all.

Technology – A help or a hindrance?

One of the main challenges is technology!

Technology has in many ways enhanced the recruitment process, but it is also so sophisticated that if you don’t have the right number of keywords in your cv you can easily be overlooked.

I don’t agree with this, but it is a fact.

If you can imagine, most recruiters are working on multiple roles and often on tight delivery schedules. This is particularity high in low margin recruitment business’s and definitely when the role is contingency (no upfront fee). So, it could just be that your cv didn’t have the keywords they were looking for.

There is still very much a mentality with some organisations that work with multiple agencies that it’s the first agency to send the cv that gets an interview, this in itself creates poor practice.

I personally feel that a company should have an agreed standard that their suppliers have to work to. Fortunately for my business we tend to work mainly on exclusive roles. The reason I’m sharing this is that often the recruiter is under pressure to deliver so having the time to give a good candidate experience isn’t always possible.

Let me share an example, recently I managed an HR Director role I had 230 responses to the role. We don’t use automated technology, so I had to review all those cv’s!

Everyone who applies receives an email explaining that we will contact them within 3 days if we are taking their application further. Of those 230 cv’s, I then tele-screened 15 and shortlisted 5 for a competency-based interview.

Every single candidate that was in the process received feedback. It is just not acceptable for any agency not to do this it’s just poor practice. If this happens to you, I suggest you raise a complaint.

However, I still received calls from candidates that were included in the other 215 and especially in the last few months it’s really hard telling someone you can’t put them through the process. As I am, what I would call a “seasoned recruiter”, I was able to manage it, but less experienced recruiters would be uncomfortable dealing with a persistent candidate and then they do the classic avoid the call.

I think that some candidates find it hard to accept that they haven’t got the specific skills required but they feel they can do the job. Maybe look it like this you want to buy a Red BMW 3 series and you got to the garage and the salesmen says well I haven’t got a red BMW but I’ve got a blue Mercedes C class. We all know the Mercedes and BMW’s are good cars, but are you going to buy a blue Mercedes if you wanted a red BMW, probably not? This doesn’t meant that the blue Mercedes isn’t a good car it’s just not what I’m looking for.

Can you find flexibility?

If we have taken an instruction from a client we will know what they will flex on what is a must have. They are paying a fee for a service and therefore can set the criteria; however, a good consultant should ensure that they really drill down on what skills are required and challenge if appropriate. Back to the role I have just managed. The client was looking for a full time HR Director and has ended up with a higher skilled individual who is only working 4 days. This was because he couldn’t afford what he really wanted 5 days a week, so I made the suggestion to consider a 4-day week more senior candidate. It took some time to convince him but after seeing several candidates this was where we ended up. For me it was a hugely rewarding assignment, but you do not get these very often. However, a good consultant will always want’s the best outcome for the client and the candidate.

My advice is work with a few agencies, build a rapport. Of course, if your applying online then this means you could be working with multiple consultants. Add them to your LinkedIn contacts send them a message via linked in. Try reaching out by phone, a good consultant will take your call. However, be prepared that as much as you feel strongly you are a match they will have taken the brief and have a much deeper understanding of what the client is looking for and you may just not have enough of the skill set.

Nicky, M.D – Signet Resources