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The Hiring Practice That’s Bad News For Everyone

New Zealand’s “Rock Star” economy is starting to have a big impact on the job market.

Just as quickly as confidence and hiring dropped at the start of the recession, we have seen confidence and hiring rocket upwards in the last few months, with no sign of slowing down.

During the recession, many employers adopted some pretty poor hiring practices.  They were generally able to find the candidates they wanted – out of luck, as opposed to good management.

In my experience, one of the most harmful of these practices is the listing of job orders across multiple agencies.

On the surface of it, listing your job with a bunch of different agencies might seem sensible. When I ask hiring managers why they do it, I’ve been given one or both of these reasons:  

–       It appeals to the agencies’ competitive instinct, resulting in a better, faster service

–       It will result in a greater spread of candidates from the market

Let me expose why working with agencies like this will not get you the result you ultimately want – the right candidate!

Good recruiters are extremely hard to find. The best recruiters are in high demand, and will spend almost all of their time on ‘exclusive’ roles. 

To explain why, let’s take an actual example of two roles we’re working on at Consult right now.

Company A has engaged us on an exclusive vacancy. We’ve been given a detailed brief, we’ve met the team and there’s a mutual buy-in between us and the business.

Company B called us with a role that they’ve also listed with two other agencies, because they need to fill the role fast and say going to several agencies will help ‘cover the market more quickly’. 

What happens behind the scenes is this:

– We allocate nearly all of our resource and time working on Company A’s vacancy.  

Why? Well firstly, this is the role that we have real pressure on us to fill. The company is relying on us – and no one else – to come up with the right candidate.

Secondly, we have a much higher chance of filling this role – it simply makes commercial sense for us to invest our time here. Essentially, the hiring manager has given us a third of their commitment. Really, why would they expect us to give them more than a third of ours?

Finally, the hiring manager’s time isn’t divided among multiple agencies, so we have a much better understanding of the role – which again means we’re much more likely to fill it with the right person.

– We will spend some time working on Company B’s vacancy – however the number of candidates we send will be greatly reduced.

We won’t send CV’s for the hell of it. If we can’t find a quality candidate who fits the brief from our database of active candidates, then we won’t send anyone. We will not spend the considerable time, effort and skill it takes to actively source other candidates, because we need to spend that time working on Company A’s vacancy.

And this is why the belief that multi-listing results in better coverage of the market is erroneous. Candidates who are actively available for work and registered with agencies make up a very small percentage of the market. They will generally be registered with most agencies in their niche.

So by listing with multiple agencies, what happens is each of those agencies refer the same people from the same pool of active, registered candidates. None of them will take that extra, crucial step of sourcing candidates beyond that pool.

I’ve seen it time and again – the hiring manager lists with a bunch of agencies, who all send over the same candidates in an initial flurry of activity, and then…nothing.

What’s more, often these candidates are the wrong match, as the agencies don’t have a good steer on the role.

Obviously there will be times when no matter how good the agency is, they just might not be able to find the right candidate for you.  If this happens, you simply repeat the process with another agency after you’ve had a discussion with the first. It’ll still be quicker taking this linear approach to working with agencies, than working with them all at once.

And most importantly, you’ll get a better quality result.

During a recession, when jobs were harder to come by, and candidates were plentiful, multi-listing jobs might have worked – some of the time. Now the market’s changing, it most assuredly won’t.

In short, if you want your agency to find you the right candidate for your business, you must give them your commitment. It’s time to break the multi-listing habit.

About the author

Angela Cameron - CA, CPA

Executive Director

A chartered accountant by qualification, she is a recruitment leader by nature.

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