A Tale of Two Recruiters


A start-up Web Design Firm needed to hire a UX Designer for their rapidly expanding portfolio. After being reasonably impressed by an array of recruiters, they authorized one of the recruiter’s named Tom to find a talented programmer. Tom is a solid citizen who does his best to perform well for his clients. With the job specifications fresh in hand, Tom quickly prepares his plan and begins scouring an array of tech job sites and crafts a few boolean searches and narrowed the search to a few dozen resumes. Within hours, Tom begins making phone calls to interview the candidates to see if they possess the right skills for the Design Firm. After several days of recruiting calls, reference checks and further interviews, Tom narrows his search down to the top three candidates that he thinks best embody all the attributes that the new company needs in a UX Designer. In fact, everything seemed to be moving along rather nicely.

The problem is that a few days ago, the same start-up openly discussed the search with a different recruiter who happened to call in one day unsolicited. Once recruiter #2 hung up the phone, he quickly did a similar search online and downloaded a handful of resumes and proceeded to email them directly to the Design Firm’s executive. By the time Recruiter Tom got the chance to present his top three candidates to the executive, the executive had to inform Tom that he had already received the same resumes from another recruiter. Guess which recruiter got paid?

You would rightly think that it would be a mistake for the Design Firm to pay the second recruiter. Sadly, that is exactly what would happen 99% of the time. The first one who sends a resume in wins! So what is the logical outcome from such an incident, and I promise you that this very common. The outcome is that if Tom wants to feed his family, he’d better quit vetting candidates and instead be the fastest trigger.

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2 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Recruiters

  1. We used to treat contingency search like it was retained, sometimes to our detriment. We’ve certainly been burned but instead of becoming the fastest trigger we moved into retained/engaged search. It’s so much more effective for the client and more fun for us partnering with them.

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