You probably think you and the agency are on the same side. After all, If they don't place anybody with you, they will lose out as well as you. This is especially true if they are working on a 'no win, no fee' basis.
The reality is often very different - especially when recruiting the most in-demand candidates.
Whilst it's in both your interests that the advert generates candidates, after that things start to change.
1 One v Many
You are looking for that one ideal candidate who is in high demand. To have any chance of getting them, you need an advert that is targeted specifically to them. It must include their niche skills and address what their particular needs are.
However, to maximise its profits, an agency is looking for as many candidates as possible. Essentially, they want to make as many placements from the same advert as possible.
So how do they do that? The easy way is to make the advert as broad as possible. It no longer targets exactly who you are looking for because that could put off some candidates they could place elsewhere. Unfortunately for you, a more generic advert is much less attractive to the people you were looking for.
So more response, but not the right response - for you, anyway...
2 You v Their Other Clients
For the best possible chance of success, your offer needs to stand apart and above your competitors. Your advert must be tailored to show what you uniquely can offer that others can't. This could include your team and management style, the most unique parts of the role and hopefully your own unique corporate 'vibe'. This will give you a great chance of attracting even the most in-demand candidate.
Unfortunately for an agency, if they want to squeeze the most amount of placements out of the advert, they can't afford to make it too organisation or opportunity specific. They need the advert to be flexible enough to fit as many of their clients as possible.
Essentially, whilst you want to be above any competition, they need you down at the same level as their other clients.
This usually results in a recruitment advert that either doesn't mention any of your unique advantages or they will be made deliberately vague or commonplace. The idea is that they will be of such secondary interest that they can be ignored or minimised when they talk to their new candidates. Especially when they are 'selling' their other clients' opportunities.
So again, fewer people apply that could have been interested and now the ones that do will be harder to recruit.
The Stakes Are Higher
This all goes on in 'standard' recruitment, but with 'in demand' recruitment the stakes are higher. There's more money to be made for the agency and there's a higher chance that you will be left without a new recruit.
It's a strange system where the agency is rewarded by producing a job advert that actually lessens their clients' success.
What Can You Do?
Insist that you have exclusivity of candidates. No candidate should be introduced to a candidate until you've seen them. You MUST ask for this. If they won't do it, thank them for their honesty and either go elsewhere or adjust your expectations accordingly. Granted, it's almost impossible to 'police' this clause but at least it will let them know you are aware of this practice. That alone may deter them.
Fight your corner with the advert. Don't let them put you off by saying the advert is too restrictive and won't attract anyone. Even if that happens, there's still no downside, a broader advert certainly wouldn't have attracted anyone either! (Perhaps, in this case, another recruitment solution should have been used?)
Keep control of the candidates yourself. Find out for yourself where they are going or what other opportunities they may have 'heard about'. If the same names keep cropping, you've probably every right to be suspicious.
Speed Up The Process. The longer it goes on, the more likely they or their agency will start looking at other opportunities for them. If you tell the recruiter the process only takes days, rather than weeks, they may be willing to wait before introducing them to another client. In larger agencies, it will also limit the chance of one of the recruiter's colleagues finding the candidate and introducing them to 'their' clients.
What Can We Do?
Firstly, we acknowledge the system doesn't work (and this is only one of the issues). It actually rewards the agency to work against their clients' interests. There are recruiters who are willing to go against their manager and their profit targets, but it seems crazy to have to rely on that. Why not just remove the temptation? Amongst other things, that's exactly what we did.
You can read about our recruitment advertising approach here.
Related Solutions To Consider
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