Thursday, December 10, 2015

What to expect from recruiters

Author:  Gontran de Quillacq
Managing Director, Head of the quantitative & risk practice, IJC Partners

After 20 years as a candidate then a hiring manager, I became an executive recruiter. This new vantage point brought me a new perspective on the recruitment industry. The posting below and the few others are my attempt to share this experience.

You will find the other postings on my work website The site also publishes my current roles, my professional details and some selected candidates.

               What to expect from recruiters

Your rights – the recruiter’s obligations

Recruiters have duties towards you. In recruitment like in many aspects of life, they are not always respected.

Fair candidate expectations, aka recruiters’ duties, are stated here, so that we all know going forward. These are my guidelines as a recruiter:
·      Recruiters' qualifications: Clients will not hire 5 CROs and 3 CIOs, so the only way for recruiting firms to increase their profitability is by having more roles to fill and more people to fill them. The consequence is that many recruiting firms use juniors to increase their volumes. It explains why you end-up being approached, being "sold a job" and being represented by people who have a pretty poor understanding of the role or of what you do. The poor scalability of any recruitment activity also explains why there are so many recruitment boutiques: juniors grow in experience and go independent. Despite all this, you have the right to expect your recruiter to know his client, know what the job is about, to understand what you do, and be able to link the two. If your recruiter doesn't seem to be capable, you can ask to talk to his manager or simply work with a different recruiting firm.
·      Feedback: How it goes normally: you send your CV. The recruiter emails or calls you. He interviews and vets you, then he introduces you to his client. Either at the start or at the end, weeks sometimes pass and you never hear from anybody again. There are some structural reasons for it: recruiters and clients both receive far more resumes than they can humanly cope with. They can't reply to everybody and can’t even open all emails. Also, many clients simply don't give feedback (for good reasons sometimes, like multiple internal hiring managers). It's unfair to demand your recruiter to answer all emails. But if he has introduced you, you should get some feedback. Rule of thumb, when you talk to a recruiter, you can expect from him an estimated deadline, an answer when he gets one (even negative), the reasons when they are stated or at least the right to query him where you stand with respect to any given employer.
·    Truth: The recruiter sells you a job that is not the entire description. The firm isn't as stable as described. The manager or career perspectives aren't as good as pretended. The corporate culture isn't so fun... Many potential reasons that make the job less valuable than advertised.
o   There are reasons for this and it is partially your fault: Since candidates won't consider a role which doesn't have the same superlatives as the others, they are implicitly accepting that roles have to be "well-presented" to be attractive. The question is by how much.
o      You probably don't realize this, but clients lie to recruiters in the first place! They do it to both attract better candidates and simply to improve their brand, which recruiters advertise. A blatant case of a client’s misrepresentation unfortunately happened to me with my very first placement. I am still so sorry for that motivated young candidate, whom I tried to help out afterwards.
o       Rumors abound. I once heard that my client was bankrupt...
o     Still, your recruiter should have done his due diligence on his client. You have the right for transparency and honesty in any case.
o     All-in-all, it's best to use recruiters who have worked with their clients for a long time. You still have to do your OWN due diligence on the company.
o      If you hear something bad about a client, do attract your recruiter's attention to it. He might not know it himself and will appreciate the info.
·      Confidentiality: The bad news is that it takes only one recruiter to flood the market with your     CV. When it happens, the effects are disastrous. Clients know of you before you talk to them, killing your chances. Your own employer could receive your CV... The good news is that most recruiters do NOT do this.
o     Now that I am on the other side, I have a better perspective on the magnitude of this phenomenon: I'd say that up to 10% of my candidates have been introduced without their knowledge to famous/prominent clients. Probably as many candidates forgot that they did introduce themselves (friends, website, university CV books, etc) or gave the approval to be introduced to this client. Unknown introductions quickly become much less frequent as the clients become less-known.
o     Some numbers: of the 700 recruiters and hundreds of recruiting firms I have worked with during my first life, I now know that only three recruitment firms use 'distribution lists' frequently as BAU. I have suspicions of a few more shops doing unauthorized introductions on an occasional basis. These 5-7 firms are well-known recruiting firms in my the financial market segment! Conclusion, do ask your friends who the usual culprits are and do NOT share your resume with them (not even online through websites).
o       Do not let a recruiter send your resume to dozens of places. Ask him/her the places he works with most of the time. Ask him to select a few of his best clients only.
o    Finally, and most importantly: you own your CV. You have the right to know and decide where it goes. No exception.

Your part

"Nobody can escape his/her karma" they say... Relationships take time to build and you should start building them now. That’s the required step to benefit from quality relations later, or avoid negative consequences of bad / absent relations.
Your part of the relationship building is:
·         Tell the truth. You can be ‘economical with the truth’ but cannot lie.
·        Do not send your CV to an employer, after a recruiter has disclosed you its name & the role they   are trying to fill. If you hear from a friend that company X is publicly recruiting for job Y, then go  ahead, pass on the message to other friends. But if it's a recruiter who told you so, it's his bread and butter that you are taking away by telling your pals, and that’s not cool to him.
·        Do your due diligence on both your recruiter and his clients. 
·       Do invest in your long-term relations with information: if a firm you know is recruiting, share it with your recruiter. If the role fits your profile, he should introduce you first (!) and his introduction will have the benefit of being more objective for the client’s eyes. If you are not a good fit, then his other candidates could benefit from the role. What goes around comes around. His clients probably were discovered in this way at the start.

Your expectations

Like in any game you play, you can expect the players to follow the rules. But don't blame the game or the players if you don't win. Recruiters can't guarantee you a job, only a fair representation. Don't forget as well, that they offer to you:
·  A no-cost-service: When someone sells you a service for free, it's probably because you are the commodity. Social networks explain your preferences to advertisers for a fee; Users get a communication benefit paid by the product advertisers. Facebook is now the world's largest country as a result. In the same way, recruiters explain your experience and profile to hiring managers for a fee. Candidates get the benefit of free introductions because clients pay the recruiters. PS: recruiting firms surely aren’t as big and as profitable as Facebook...
·       Extended reach: Recruiters allow you to reach clients and be presented to jobs you never heard of, and which are often not advertised publicly.
·     Other approaches: Recruiters are only one of three ways for you to get your next job: the other two are 'applying' and 'networking' (that's the professional word for 'friendship'). Recruiters are a very efficient and cost-efficient way for clients to fill jobs. Networking is the most efficient way for you to get your next job. Never put all your eggs in one basket.

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