Talent acquisition is red hot in some markets right now. That means that even the best-intentioned and hardest-working internal HR manager/recruiter will find it difficult to keep up with the demands from hiring managers. As internal company recruiters require assistance from the outside, independent recruiters are a common way to supplement internal efforts. Every employer is different, but sometimes this relationship between internal staff and third-party recruiters can become uncomfortable, contentious, and even adversarial.
Here are some issues that cause friction and suggestions on how internal HR can create “the fix.”
It will often depend on the employer and the individual recruiters involved, but a search can turn into a competition. Each party is working to outperform the other and along the way creating opportunities for sabotaging the process.
The fix: Independents or third-party recruiters are often paid on a contingency basis. Make sure to give the independent recruiter credit for any action that leads to a hire. Yes, you had the candidate in your database, but you really had zero interest in the candidate until your third-party recruiter updated the candidate’s background and found they were willing to take a pay cut, move halfway across the world or some other condition internal HR had no insight to. Independent recruiters should be viewed as an extension of the internal HR department. They are selling your company to candidates and representing your brand in the marketplace. They want to be successful; let them help. Coach them to better performance; do not sabotage or create more difficult conditions for these folks that are attempting to help you reach a goal.
It is not unusual for internal HR to maintain the easier openings to fill and offer the more difficult assignments to the independent recruiter. As this happens, there are limited resources that must be shared including time and access to the hiring manager. This causes an issue because the best candidates are highly sought after by many and reaction time is often critical.
The fix: Create benchmarks for performance. If a candidate is delivered, what is the agreed maximum response time allowed by internal HR? Pick a time and live with it. Hiring managers need to be held accountable for being accessible to recruiters whether the recruiter is internal or external. Hiring managers likewise need to respond in a maximum number of hours to requests for interviews, interview feedback, or details that will allow a candidate to make a yes decision. If these jobs are not urgent, then please tell your independent recruiter to “stand down” until a priority has once again been established. Nobody likes to hurry up and wait. Callbacks the same day or within a 24-hour window is a basis of most businesses. It is a basic requirement of being a good partner…make it happen.
It is at the root of most issues in business. Independent recruiters expect and deserve the basics of direct, accurate, and timely communication. Sometimes due to the detached relationship and compensation structure of independent resources called in to support internal HR and recruitment, the independent gets slow or less-than-accurate communication.
The fix: When things change, think about who is representing your company in the marketplace. Often that is an independent recruiter. If the job is canceled, the project delayed, the funding canceled, your partner on the outside needs that info immediately. Return calls and emails as you would if it was a great candidate calling or emailing directly, because it very well may be a great candidate being represented by the independent recruiter you have partnered with.
Sometimes partners that should be supporting each other like to show that they are superior. It is more than just competition when this happens; there is a need to be dominant and have someone subservient to the power that one side can wield.
The fix: We are on the same team. One party may have a better degree or a regular paycheck from an “important” employer, but we are both just trying to do a good job and to help that important employer get the best talent available. Sometimes independents have great instincts honed from the experience of headhunting thousands of successful placements in a lifetime. Sometimes our advice on offers is meant to help you get what you want and need. You are not always right and we are not always wrong. We have different experiences, perspectives and points of view. The more you listen, the better informed you will be. We win when you win.
Obviously this is a very heavily weighted point of view on this subject, from the independent recruiter’s side of the transaction. I’m sure there are other ways to view these situations. Please feel free to correct the errors of my thinking.