Friday, July 30, 2010

The Recruitment malaise

Well, the good news is that most recruiters are high in demand after a lull!! Whether this 'busyness" is converting into 'business', is anybody's guess :-)!

Earlier this week, I was pleasantly surprised by a blog post- a very interesting & revealing case study that exposes the efficiency/effectiveness /(lack of) sensitivity of a recruiter- but however admits "...Recruiters are definitely the culprits, but my fingers are pointing towards the career portals who lack proper tools and are monetizing heavily for the lack of viable “branded” alternatives."

The author being a serial entrepreneur, a part of firm contributing to the accleration of India's start- up revolution-had actually used the opportunity to get under the skin of a job aspirant's attempt to getting a job using online career portals in India. The comments /reactions are a must read-for all of us in the ecosystem- the corporates, the candidates, and the consultants!!

I think he hit the nail when he suspects that it lies in "our acceptance of mediocrity attitude, rather, there is no better way to do it attitude. The customer accepts it, the vendor does not know better and the ecosystem works on this perfect balance of status quo".

Yes, the acceptance of mediocrity...And the reality that hiring -eventually comes down always to quantity. Headcount. Number of seats to be filled. Cost per hire. Turnaround time taken to fill.

Having been in the industry for over 25yrs now..the first 7-8yrs as a job aspirant, and since 18yrs playing an important role (catalyst?) in the dynamics between the employers and employees, I would try and give a different perspective for a larger picture!!

Demand Side- the interaction with the corporates:

Almost 95% of the action in the hiring industry involving third party consultants are made on a contingency basis.

A contingent fee or conditional fee is any fee for services provided where the fee is only payable by the employer if there is a favorable result.

Analysing deeper, what are the odds stacked against the recruiter?

Comparative interviewing: clients benchmarking the internal staff against the recruiter’s candidates, and selecting an internal candidate. Fee paid for the recruiter’s work and 'the clients' favourable result : Zero.

Using multiple vendors: Client uses multiple recruiting agencies, some perhaps with a head start, and does not hire from your agency. Fee paid for the work done by your agency and their 'favourable result" -Zero.

Internal employee referral: This program is in motion while the recruiter is banging the phones and they coincidentally have not told the recruiter this is in tandem with his/her efforts (this includes internal postings and applications). Fee paid for the work and their 'favourable result"- Zero.

In a zero sum game, it invariably becomes a 'who pressed the buzzer first" game as most companies credit the source of the resume-rather than the quality or value add by the third party recruiter. You see, there is no incentive for anything beyond a key word search! Sounds familiar?

As a recruiter, one is racing ahead of time, clocking in registrations -in a bid to get the credit. But does the client see the effort put in for studying a resume? Or spend time even understanding the relative merit of the recommendation?

- As an employer engaging multiple agencies, is anyone keeping track of "what is in it for the recruiting firm" ?

Supply side : The interaction with the Candidates

Aspirants/job seekers are using the throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach to their job search. For every one qualified applicant, recruiting agencies get resumes from 10 to 20 unqualified applicants for the open roles they post on job portals and their Web sites.

This “wall sticking” approach led to companies/professional recruitment consultants adopting Applicant Tracking Systems that allow recruiters to do keyword searches to cull out from a bank of resumes only the few that meet the criteria for the role. But that, too, causes problems: a backlash of disgruntled applicants who complain they are sending their resume into a black hole, never to be seen again!!

Applicants feel disconnected with the recruiting process and consequently hate recruiters because most recruiters are only contacting and following up with the truly qualified applicants, So what do the applicants do? Throw more up against the wall. Applicants feel like they need to send 100 resumes to get one bite…

If there is only one qualified candidate out of 100 resumes the recruiting agency doesn’t want to be obligated with the financial and time burdens of responding to the other 99, so they are not left wondering about the position.

Isn’t it a catch 22 situation? I am sure there must be a way out of this malaise.

Whats your take? Would love to hear from you...

PS: My next blog post looks at a solution for all the players in the game to benefit mutually.

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