13 Dec 2013

Issues over Introduction

One of the many things I love about recruitment, is that it isn't rocket science.  It is, however, very much a service industry and one where relationships (with both candidates and clients) are hugely important.  I've been recruiting now for close to 10 years and PMP has been built on strong relationships.  I place Account Directors today who I first knew as Account Executives and I've stayed in touch with them through their careers.  Much as I like to think I've got the market covered, the industry has changed over the last 5 years and certainly there are not the same number of opportunities for candidates.  Clients also tend to use multiple recruiters and I will advise candidates to talk to a range of recruiters to ensure that they hear about every opportunity in the region.  These days, if a recruiter tells you not to go anywhere else in your search for a new role, I wouldn't pay any attention. You've got to look after number one in the search for a job and that means targeting multiple opportunities through multiple sources.  A recruiter who gives you the 'don't talk to anyone else, I'll have you placed in no time' line is lying.  That's very much old school recruitment, that of the hard sales and arm twisting variety.

I'd thought that old school recruitment was over.  These days, there are plenty of specialist boutique recruiters. Whilst many of them are still sales animals and people who have never set foot in a marketing agency, the majority of them do seem to have cottoned onto the service element of recruitment and understand that candidates will go elsewhere if they don't a) have their calls returned and b) present them with relevant opportunities on a regular basis. Being registered with multiple recruiters and having your CV 'out there' can present problems.  In the past month, I've had a couple of shoddy recruitment experiences and I wanted to share them just so candidates know really, how the process of introduction should work and, occasionally, how it does.


  • Client Z briefs PMP on a new role
  • PMP searches in-house database, gets on the phone, advertises role online (all the usual acquisition tools)
  • PMP responds to candidates who have applied to role, vets & briefs suitable candidates.  GAINS PERMISSION to send CV (s) to client.
  • PMP forwards shortlisted CVs to Client Z.  
  • Client Z advises PMP of 3 candidates to interview, however, the fourth they have received from another recruiter
  • PMP queries which candidate, informs Client Z that there must be some confusion and goes off to chat to candidate.
  • Candidate has no idea who the other recruiter is. Has never heard of them, never had a conversation with them. Candidate swears that the only person to have discussed this role with is PMP.
  • PMP tells this to Client Z
  • The other recruiter then proceeds to lie to Client Z telling them that they've actually MET the candidate in question and the candidate must be lying...
  • Other recruiter leaves a series of strangulated messages on candidate's phone informing her that they absolutely have to speak.
  • Candidate speaks to other recruiter. Other recruiter tries to force candidate to be represented by them - otherwise you won't get an interview.
  • Candidate tells PMP and calls Client Z directly to tell them what has been going on. Client Z strikes Other Recruiter off the Preferred Supplier List. 
  • Candidate interviews for the role & secures offer two weeks later.
What went wrong?

Well, the candidate applied for the role via an online jobsite.  Applied once to an advert via PMP and one from the Other recruiter.  The difference is that the Other recruiter took the application and sent the CV direct to the client.  The candidate had not been vetted or briefed and was unaware that they had been sent.  This is very lazy recruitment.  Sending a candidate CV anywhere without the explicit permission of the candidate is an absolute no no in the world of (ethical) recruitment.

What can you do to prevent it?

The difficulty here is that there is probably little you can do.  Increasingly I see candidates on their covering notes do ask that their CV is not sent anywhere without their permission but in the world of Cowboy Recruitment, that isn't going to cut it.  You will only realise that your CV has been sent when Cowboy recruiter rings you up to tell you that you have an interview with a company you have never heard of.  At that point you do have an opportunity to question their code of practice but equally if it is a job you really like the sound of, you're not going to turn down that interview.  And so the Cowboy gets away with it and they carry on doing it, because it's time saving recruitment and it works (for them).
I tend to advise candidates that if you are applying online for a role. Try to call the recruiter in advance of sending the CV and have a chat with them about it.  A good recruiter will always take a call - it could be their next fee!

  • CLIENT X briefs PMP on a new role
  • PMP searches in-house database, gets on the phone, advertises role online.
  • PMP responds to candidates who have applied to role, vets & briefs suitable candidates.  GAINS PERMISSION to send CV (s) to client.
  • PMP forwards shortlisted CVs to Client X
  • Client X phones PMP to request interviews with 2 candidates but says that he already has Candidate Y
  • PMP rings Candidate Y. Some initial confusion.
  • Candidate Y had phone call that day to say that she had just had a phone call from Other Recruiter (a different one!) to say she had an interview with Client X.  Even though she had not had an initial call to discuss the role with her and she was not aware her CV had gone across.  Other Recruiter's first line was that 'I've got you an interview with a fantastic client and they only want to meet you'.  Persuasive and designed to boost the ego.  Candidate Y didn't feel she was in a position to get angry that her CV had been sent to a client without her permission so meekly accepted the interview and then rang PMP sheepishly to apologise.
  • CLIENT X acknowledges the mix up but cites he must go with the recruiter who sent the CV first.
What went wrong?

In this case, the candidate was actually registered with the other recruiter who said after the event that the candidate had given her permission for them to send her CV anywhere....Seriously.  This should never happen.  The marketing world is a small one, simply no recruiter should ever be just sending your CV out anywhere, without you knowing about it.  The client took the route of least argument, saying that their policy was go with the CV that lands on the desk first....he understood what had happened and says he won't brief the other recruiter in future but clients just don't want the hassle of having recruiters wrangling over candidate ownership (and I don't blame them).

What can you do to prevent it?

Whenever you register with a recruiter, always stipulate that your CV must not go anywhere without your permission.  Keep a spreadsheet with your own record of who has sent your CV where, and when.  And don't be afraid to challenge bad recruitment practice.  Only if we let the Cowboys get away with bad practice will they continue to break the rules and stay in business.  There are plenty of good guys out there recruiting now, candidates have a choice!

Signs that your recruiter is a Cowboy:

When they call you/email you once in a blue moon (they don't even send out regular updates)
When they call you to tell you that they've got you an interview with a client (without any prior conversation)
When they won't tell you a clients' name.  'I've got a great role but it's top secret and I can't tell you who it's with'. Rubbish!  Tell them they're not sending the CV unless you know where it's going.
When they try to turn up the sales pitch, arm twisting, tell you to take a role and try it for a bit...
If they're sending your CV out without your permission
If they don't actually know anything about the client brief (a sure sign that they've heard on the grapevine and they've not actually got a relationship with the client).
When they tell you not to register anywhere else and they must have an exclusive arrangement with you
If they are pushy
If they ever ask you for money

Hope that all gives you some insight!  Competition in the recruitment market is good. It keeps us all on our toes and gives clients and candidates choice as to who they deal with.  Recruitment should be all about relationships though, and if you don't feel that you've got a good relationship with your recruiters, then look for someone else!