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A Relationship of Trust

A Relationship of Trust

Copyright ©Liz Murray; Workinfo.com
Used with permission of the author:
Author: Liz Murray
Recruitment Manager

04 May 2007

Back to ... Workinfo.com Human Resources Magazine Volume 1 Issue 7, 2007

As a recruitment consultant with over twenty years experience it has become more apparent how important HR departments are within companies.

Does your company really appreciate this? The role of HR has changed dramatically over the years, but as the HR departments do not generate income, sometimes they are treated as not being important.

However, we have all heard and keep on hearing about skills shortages in this country, so therefore HR departments can add real value to your company. Yours is the department that will manage, recognise and endeavour to keep skills. This is the first department that will hear about any problems or issues arising in your company, so what price does your company put on this? What price do you, as HR specialists, put on this?

In a recent article it was mentioned that many companies appoint their HR director to their board of directors enabling them to become an advocate for Human Capital. Certain studies have found that the HR department is twenty to twenty five percent more important to business results than the director.

When it comes to recruitment for any company this is one issue that most HR officers, managers would prefer to outsource, mainly because it is so time consuming. So let’s look at the relationship between HR departments, and recruitment consultants and companies.

The best advice I can give is to find one to three recruitment consultants and companies that you build a relationship with, have faith and trust in, and know that they understand your business.

Speaking for myself, if I receive an email with an attached job spec from any HR department that I can see has been mailed to twenty recruitment consultants, I very rarely would work on it. It is clear that HR department has no understanding of the difference in Recruitment Consultants. For example: You have a vacancy for a cost accountant; off goes the spec to the whole list of consultants. Now some of those recruitment consultants may have been successful in finding you a secretary but do they understand anything about cost accountants? What is likely to happen is, if it is a large recruitment agency someone may have a cost accountant they have interviewed, but this consultant knows nothing about your company or its culture, etc, and the consultant you are dealing with has never seen the candidate. So you receive the CV presuming that the consultant you have been dealing with has interviewed the candidate and is sure that this candidate will fit into your culture. It is not likely to be good match; a bit hit and miss.

Remember, big is not always better, if you try and build a relationship with your recruitment consultant and keep it to one to three consultants; you will stand a much better chance of finding the exact fit. I have seen specs going to twenty or more consultants, seen at least four or five advertise the position, so now it becomes a race; who can get the CV to you first. Consider what is likely to happen:

  1. the candidate is never interviewed, the CV looked good, the consultant will just do a telephonic interview.

  2. Due to lack of time a lousy job is done, the consultant knows very little about cost accountants but the candidate has the correct qualification, can speak, so that will do.

When I receive a spec I usually have lots of questions to ask. Are you going to take twenty of those calls? I think not; you do not have the time. So, what have you gained from sending specs to loads of consultants? Very little.

Now look at what you have lost.

Time is the biggest thing, you will receive on average three to four CV’s from each consultant, all of which you have to look at. You will find that ninety eight percent of them will not fit the bill so it has now taken you three to four days. At last you find one or two that you would like to see, only to find out that the candidate has now been placed. So you have now lost a good candidate, someone who would have added value to your company.

Recruitment should be a partnership between you, your choice of recruitment consultant, just like your department – a relationship between you and your company

My job as a recruitment consultant is to build relationships not only with HR but also with my candidates, and that is something that HR officers have a tendency to forget. I am sure you think we are only in this for the money, whilst this may be true of the majority, there are some of us who have different values altogether.

So let’s presume we have the spec, have gone through the time consuming process of advertising, taking the calls, reading all email, interviewing suitable candidates, preparing CVs and sending them to our Client (you, the HR department). When we receive a spec one of the questions always asked is “How soon do you need to place this person?” The answer, nine times out of ten, is, “ASAP”.

So off we go, working as quickly and as productively as we can, send CVs that to us is a near enough perfect match. (Please remember that recruitment is not taking people of the shelves at Pick ‘n Pay, that is the right brand with the right stuff in the tin.) Recruitment is all about people, bringing out the best in them, finding out and having a good understanding of their skills.

So there we are having sent out three really good CVs expecting some answer from our HR contact. What happens? Nothing.

We all appreciate that this may not be your fault, line management really mess HR departments around, why should they worry about skills shortage, and in fact they may not be aware there is such a thing.

However, what would be nice is that old fashioned thing called ”Honesty”. You do not like the CV, do not like the match, do not think is the right person, then say so.

However, if you have built a good relationship with your recruiter this would not be happening.

If it is line management messing you around then you need to control that, you are the department who are well aware of skills shortage, the need for urgency and ability to recognise talent

We as recruiters can then tell candidates they have not been successful and move on. All of this really again comes back to “relationship building” which should be the two things HR and recruitment consultants have in common.

Now look at another question – the candidates we have interviewed.

When we start recruiting we know your company, most of us would know your values and what kind of person would fit. It is not only skills; it is the whole package which is going to make this a success.

As we are going through the interviewing process, if we have been doing this job for a long time, we know that we have found an individual who stands a good chance of obtaining this position. It is now part of our job to make this candidate aware and interested in your company. We spend time giving them as much information as possible, getting them excited, giving them your website, making them do some homework so they can attend the interview with as much knowledge as possible.

We then inform our Client (you, the HR department) that CVs are coming, giving you information on these candidates, things that we cannot put on a CV.

HR gets the CV and what happens? NOTHING. Sometimes you do not acknowledge that you have received it; we, the consultants will keep phoning. Do you return the call? Nine times out of ten – NO. Ten days down the line, HR informs the recruitment consultant the position is no longer available. We get a hundred reasons for this being the case and are sure that some of it is true. During this period, we, the recruitment consultants, have kept our candidates informed of progress and now have to tell them there never was a position or if there was it is no longer available.

What impression does this give candidates of your company and of the recruitment consultant and company?

So this whole process has come to nothing. We have all wasted a whole bunch of time and effort.

I am not saying that all companies behave like this, but all HR departments needs to act in a professional manner and just be honest. They also need to know the difference from a totally professional, ethical recruitment person to the ones who only care about their commission, and there are a lot of those.

Finally, HR Managers Directors, you are so important to your companies. Do not lower your standards; ensure that you demand the same ethics and morals from your choice of recruitment company and consultant; and if it is not happening –make a change

Liz Murray started her work career in the hospitality industry where she completed her training with a large hotel on the south coast of England. She arrived in South Africa in 1971 and was appointed as the Manager of a publishing company for fifteen years. In 1990 she joined a recruitment company specialising in financial placements, went through one year's training and became a successful recruitment consultant handling permanent and temporary staff where she stayed for ten years. She was asked to join a listed recruitment company to open their Temporary division from scratch, employed and trained the staff, and the division achieved the highest turnover of all the divisions. She was then head-hunted by a similar company to handle exactly the same process which became very successful, but was then offered the position as the Operations Manager with a recruitment company. This gave her the opportunity of training junior recruitment consultants in branches and handling a lot of the HR function. She then decided that training was something that really excited her and took some time off to complete her SETA training manuals for accreditation. After a couple of years Liz was persuaded to return to the recruitment industry and now heads up the recruitment division for Workinfo.com. During her twenty one years in recruitment, Liz still maintains her ethics and standards. Her candidates are as equally important as her clients. The hospitality industry taught her all about "Service" and the importance of understanding people. Contact Liz at Workinfo.com, at liz@workinfo.com.

Short description
Having a good relationship based on trust between recruitment consultant and HR department speeds up the recruitment process and makes recruitment more efficient and effective.

Key words and relevant phrases
Candidate, CV, honest, HR, HR department, HR director, HR managers, human capital, human resources, interview, job spec, recruitment, recruitment consultant, relationship, skills, talent management, time management.  

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Gary Watkins

Gary Watkins

Managing Director


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