Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Many Companies Fail To See The Best Candidates

I have to be delicate in this post in order not to insult anyone.  No insult intended.

I like to believe that I am among the most honest and straight-forward recruiters.  I always ask my candidate’s permission before I send out their résumé (I ask permission even among those who give me carte blanche to just send it out).  I double check to be sure they have not previously been submitted or have gone there within the recent past. 

Way too often, when I send a candidate on a contingent basis, I hear the dreaded words, “We already have him/her from another source.”  Sometimes candidates will swear that they never gave anyone permission to send their résumé to that company.  Nevertheless, when that happens, at most companies, it means that they will not see the candidate submitted to them and, unfortunately, it often means that they will not see the candidate at all, even if they are perfect for the job.  I hear this story all the time.

This happens because the vast majority of corporately generated contracts contain a clause that actually works against the company.  The agreement states that should a conflict arise between recruiters, the first one to have sent the résumé will be given credit.  This encourages less than scrupulous recruiters to simply email résumés.  The recruiter is under no obligation to follow up (either with the candidate or the company) and generally rely on the company to call them if interested.  If they have not told the candidate they are submitting their resume, then they are under no obligation to call the candidate to say there is no interest.  I have written this before.  But by just sending the résumé, they are playing the odds that for six months they will be protected (most contracts give recruiters half a year of protection) and perhaps the company will call them to see the candidate. 

Unfortunately, what happens to the candidate is that most of the time they go into limbo even if they are great for the job. If the recruiter doesn't call, the resume is simply logged in to a corporate data base and the résumé often just sits there.  Then, sometime later, when there is a legitimate job, the candidate doesn’t get called by the first recruiter (who may or may not have the assignment) and the second recruiter, who may have a perfect “fit” for the candidate, gets nowhere in trying to submit them.

Companies do this because it is easy to administer and requires no thought on the part of the HR department.   Logging in the résumé with a time stamp is absolute and not open to discussion.  Most companies deal with too many recruiters.  Rather than making great relationships with a just a few, they deal with, in some cases, dozens.  This produces no loyalty in either direction.  It makes the recruiters into suppliers rather than partners.  And it turns candidates into commodities.

The truth is, and I know that every legitimate head hunter agrees, the recruiter who causes the person to be interviewed should be given the credit.  What this means is that a good recruiter should actually work for an introduction.  Recruiters should be challenged by their clients.  They should be asked, even when the résumé has obvious connections to a job, why they are submitting a candidate and why the recruiter believes that the candidate would be right for the culture of the company.  I have a couple of clients who do this.  I know that they listen to my logic and they listen to the nuance in my voice to insure that I am committed to the candidate.  They make me work for my introductions.  I respect those clients and, I believe, they respect me.

If I submit a candidate and they are not accepted, another recruiter should be free to introduce them for a different job within the same company. If the candidate gets seen, I have no reason to complain – I did not cause them to be interviewed.  If I send a candidate who is not right for a job, I should be told why so that I can tell the candidate the issue.  But if my candidate is not seen, other recruiters should be free to send the same person for a different job. The decision to see or not see a candidate should never be made on the
résumé alone.

Companies should set up policies to insure that they are partners with their recruiters.  They should establish systems that are totally fair both to their recruiters and to their potential employees.  I think that if they did that, the recruiting process would be smoother and better for everyone. 


  1. I remember a long time ago when this happened to me as a potential employee--My book was sent (without my knowledge) to a small agency along with about 20 others books on spec, so no real job. I did not get an interview.

    A few months later, when a friend at the agency did set me up with an interview for a job, I was told that they wanted to hire me but couldn't because they had a moratorium on recruiters' fees and in their files, my book was originally submitted by one.

    I never did work there. But I never worked with that recruiter again either.

  2. Hi Paul,
    I agree with you 100%. There are some HR professionals who understand this, but very few.

    This one reason I tell candidates to be very careful when they send their resume to a recruiter. They should make clear that it should not be shared with anyone without their express permission. It will cheapen their value in the eyes of an agency who receives it from multiple sources without the candidate knowledge.

    Best Regards,


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