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CLIENTS: Recruitment Fees Too Much? YOU can change that.

Posted in General News on 1st June 2021

We all like to get value for money. In everything. No matter what it is, we like to have a feeling that what we spent was well worth it and that, if we are not going to do something ourselves, paying someone else to do it will have long term benefit that justify the short term cost.  

Whenever I speak with companies about using an external recruiter (eg me) to assist them, this always plays out.

“Recruiters are far too expensive for what (little) they do”. In effect, the value for money is not there and it is a job that we can do ourselves.

Very often this leads to some sort of justification of recruitment as a service and, almost always, an offer to reduce the fee – probably to such a level that the poor service you expect may even be justified.

But what if, instead of decreasing the cost of the service, you the client were able to increase the quality of it?  

Recruitment fees are, in the general sense of the word, expensive. Yes, that’s right, I’m a recruiter and I’m telling you. Its not cheap.

Now, this is of course all relevant. If a client is set to lose £000,000’s by not delivering a piece of work on time, paying £6,000 or £7,000 to get in a key team member to avert that is a price well worth paying. That aside though, the thought of paying the same price for a .Net Developer as you would a Toyota Yaris makes many look the other way.

Now, if you believe the cost of a service is too expensive, you have two choices.

  1. Don’t buy
  2. Negotiate the fee down

But wait, there is  third option. One that is so overlooked that I find myself obliged to write this article about it.

3. Improve the product aka the service you receive – yes, you have the power!

As a recruiter, we are taught early on that fee negotiation is an integral part of the job but if a company has a pre-conceived idea that the service you offer is poor, then no amount of fee negotiation can make it worth their while. This brings us to the old chestnut of a recruiters worth.

If you spent enough time on LinkedIn, you would very quickly realise that recruiters are viewed as somewhere between the Taxman and Traffic Wardens in terms of popularity. Indeed, stick around long enough and you will start to be convinced that almost every catastrophe on earth can be traced back to the unscrupulous actions of a recruiter at some point in time.

I cannot think of any other industry that is covered by a blanket of negativity and vitriol. You have a bad experience at a restaurant – you don’t go again and take your business to other restaurants. You have a bad holiday in Tenerife – you don’t go to that hotel again and may be put off by Spain altogether ….. but you will definitely not stop using hotels and will probably be back ordering sangria at Lineker’s within a few years. Hey, even the ever reliable Tom Hanks has made a few stinkers.

But have a bad experience with a recruiter? That’s it. That’s your lot. All recruiters are sh1t. You’ll never use them again and may well feel so passionate about it that you seek to blast the industry, and everyone in it, every chance you get.

I am not a flag waver for the industry in any way at all. In my 20+ years I have seen some behaviours that are shameful and corner cutting that even Lewis Hamilton couldn’t get away with. As with any industry, there are bad recruiters but there are also some outstanding ones.

What if your evaluation of the cost of recruitment was skewered by the service you wrongly expect. What I mean is, ask more of recruiters and, bit by bit, the cost may be justified.

When I ask a prospective new client ”do you care how we recruit?”. The response is more often than not a slightly puzzled expression followed by a Justin Bieber style “What do you mean?”.

Well, by way of example:

A recruiter takes on 3 Developer roles with a client.
6 weeks later they fill all 3 and have 3 glowing references on LinkedIn ordaining them as the best thing since sliced bread.
Client = happy with the result.
Candidate = happy with the result.
Recruiter = VERY happy with the result and thumbing through the Maserati brochure once again.

But, what if that same recruiter had:

Mass mailed every Developer within 50 miles about the roles – most of which just happen to word match a certain number of times with the skills listed?
and what if most weren’t interested?
and nearly as many were annoyed at receiving irrelevant details?
and what if more than a few identified the role as being with your company?
but of the hundreds mailed, the recruiter sends 25 odd CV’s, many not spoken to or at best, done so briefly
and what if it had taken 25 interviews to get the 3 on board by the time you had seen some more than once – think of the time that has taken out of the Hiring Manager

Now times all the above by 5 if there were 5 recruiters going at the roles in exactly the same way.

(Subplot: I would wager 1, 2 or maybe 3 of those 3 Developers would be there less than 6 months because “the role isn’t what I thought/was told” (you know, that one) and then you head straight into the murky world of rebates and starting it all over again).

This scenario is often the one that plays out with those who see recruiters as wasters and their service a waste of money.

But if you hold recruiters to account on a fully transparent process. Insist on a set standard of working. Make it clear what you are looking for. Insist they spend time understanding the role. The company. The culture. The environment. The process. The minimum requirements. Anything you would reasonably expect your own internal people to do if they were recruiting it themselves. Maybe the gap between cost and service starts shrinking? Maybe you draw up a service that you feel warrants the fee you are paying. If companies hold recruiters to a high standard and expect, no insist, on a quality of service befitting of the cost, you will get it. Trust me.

Yes, I know, any business (recruitment or otherwise) should have their own set of high standards of service and many do, but when you are thinking of spending money such as this, you have every right to ensure you are getting what you want.    

Now, the point of “we can do it ourselves” is directly relatable to this.

Assuming you have the time to do it (a massive assumption based on the fact that we all have time to do most things but often pay others to do it for us), anyone could carry out the sort of sourcing identified in my “3 Developer” example.

Sporadic mass marketing is not a skill and if you send enough mails, you may well get enough hits – after all even a blind a squirrel will stumble across a nut eventually.

Maybe it is the belief that this is what the job entails that leads to the most misplaced judgement of them all – “anyone can do recruitment” (go see the number of LinkedIn profiles that have 3 month recruitment “careers” littered within their work history to see that this simply isn’t true).

If that’s all it takes, then yes, don’t spend a recruitment fee. I mean you could be torching the reputation of your company but maybe that’s preferable spending £8k on a Developer and putting it someone else’s hands.

If you bring on a recruiter who will deliver a quality service from taking the remit, embedding themselves and investing time in your business, who will recruit to a very high standard ensuring that not only do applicants arrive fully versed and prepared but that the ones who don’t have nothing but a positive perception of the organisation. Doesn’t that recruitment fee suddenly seem less offensive or, if we are really going for it, better value for money?

Hell, if you ask nicely enough, they will probably knock a few % off the price too ;o)

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