Tag Archives: E-mail

Why Bother Typing Up Candidate Reports?

I met a recruitment client this week who has done a very nice job building up an Executive Recruitment business over the last few years.  Being an Executive recruiter he obviously has high standards, he is an accomplished recruiter and he recognizes that he has to provide a service that is a real cut above the competition to win the big fees from his clients.

So I was surprised to learn that he has abandoned the practice of compiling a “Candidate Profile” or “Candidate Report” to go with each CV he submits to his clients.  Apparently he has discovered that they are a waste of time and hardly any of his clients bother reading it.  On occasion he might put a few lines in the e-mail accompanying the attached CV, but that is it.  His clients have enough faith in his judgement and if he recommends someone then that is enough for them to interview.

Now I have seen recruitment companies taking things to the other extreme.  A CV submitted to a client is merely the icing on the cake, with the cake being a big, sugary, stodgy lump of reports, interview transcripts, verbatim reference checks and psychometric analyses with mind-bending graphs and summaries.  But if you think about it, is all of this absolutely necessary?  Or is it, as I am starting to suspect, more a pious front of pomp and ceremony designed to justify the potentially large outlay in recruitment fees by the client?

Let’s look at it this way:  I bought a house back in 2007 (yeah poor me…top of the market…boohoo).  The estate agent handed me a big ring-bound stack of conveyance documents, titles, reports and marketing materials.  All I looked at was the basic information like land size and number of bedrooms and paid closest attention to the photos.  Let’s equate this to the CV.  Then I decided to view the property, and rather liked it.  Let’s equate this to the interview.  See where I’m going here?  Likewise if you go to a travel agents to book a holiday (possibly a poor analogy – does anyone actually do this anymore?)  Are you more swayed by the glossy brochure, or the travel agent actually relaying their own experiences of the holiday destination to you?

Back to the CV Profiles and I do actually write them up myself.  Often just a one-pager.  But only if I have interviewed the candidate in person and can express my genuine observations and opinions in the report.  I do many telephone interviews in my job too and these just come with a few lines in an e-mail instead.  Writing up a report after not actually meeting someone in person is just false and pointless.  Even then, I have on numerous occasions had clients call me up to ask what a candidate’s salary expectations and visa situation is, even though it is all in the Profile, and I know they have just gone straight to the CV.

In contingency recruitment, where a recruiter can potentially do a lot of work for nothing and will only get a fee if the referred candidate actually ends up accepting a role, it is very tempting to just flick the CV across and not risk wasting your time on a report when it might not yield any income.  However, as soon as you allow yourself to enter this way of thinking, you become another one of those bottom-feeding “flick and stick” merchants (or not stick as is usually the case) that give recruitment a bad name.  There is a big difference between just sending a CV (or even a Linked In profile, as I have done before) to clients who value and trust your judgement and don’t need all of the frills, and recruiters who do this to clients they have no relationship or connection with, and are just lazy and looking to cut corners.  If you truly believe your candidate is right for the job, writing a report demonstrates you have belief in your convictions, and is never a waste of time.

But I do think that many recruitment companies go totally overboard with this and I would challenge these destroyers of rain forests in the thinking behind their actions.  Yes there are clients out there who will wonder at the expense of a $10k+ recruitment fee, but it is wrong to try and justify the fee through physical embodiments of “look at all of the hard work my team has done compiling this massive report”.  In these instances explain, instead, that the fee is partly for the immediate services rendered, but also to reflect the years of unpaid work that has gone into building up the level of knowledge, expertise, contacts and networks required to actually tap into and access the talent that you are able to put forward in such a short space of time.

By the way, I just asked my wife about this.  She used to be an internal recruiter before becoming Charlie and Bonnie’s PA.  She says she liked the reports and always read them.  She probably read the entire ring-bound set of documents from our estate agent too.

So what do I know?  It would be good to get your opinions…

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Why Recruiters Have Terrible Follow-Up…and what to do about it

One of the biggest gripes against recruiters that clients and candidates have is about our lack of follow up, saying we will do something and not doing it, our lack of communication.  There are many, many candidates out there, in particular, who harbour very low opinions of recruitment consultants for failing to acknowledge their application for a job, failing to tell them they are unsuccessful, or worst of all failing to provide feedback after they have gone to the time, trouble and expense of attending an interview with a client.

Why is this?

Well with some I believe it is procrastination – putting things like that off for a fear of failure or inability to cope with the mounting workload.  For others it might be a fear of conflict and not having the heart to give someone the bad news (I can assure you candidates always hear about the good news – very quickly!)  But for many recruiters it is simply a complete lack of organizational skill.  They are outgoing, driven, motivated sales people that just don’t have the “admin gene” in their make up, and often this is allowed to slide by managers, particularly when the recruiter is posting big numbers, because it is the sales skills that are universally most coveted in recruitment consultants.

I have worked in a number of different recruitment environments and in that time encountered a huge variance in the levels of competency in different recruiters.  I have witnessed some truly terrible recruitment practices – even once a recruiter who simply deleted applications from candidates based upon their name.  Unsurprisingly he is no longer recruiting, but probably never should have been allowed near a recruitment desk in the first place.  But I have also encountered some decent enough recruiters, who genuinely have the best interests of the clients and candidates at heart, but who are simply incapable of planning, prioritizing and organizing their desks and their business to the n-th degree that is so essential to running a truly successful recruitment desk.

The recruitment industry is packed full of well-meaning recruiters who end up giving us all a bad name because they cannot be organized enough to follow up and do what they say they are going to do.

I’m not trying to be one of those recruitment trainers here – but I recruit for the recruitment industry – and I want to see us all raise our game as an industry and improve the way we are perceived in the wider business community – because that can only benefit us all.

So here goes.  Follow up has never been a problem for me and I make absolutely sure I always follow up with all clients and candidates – it is a matter of pride for me – not to mention a point of difference to my competition.  There are a small number of reasons that I am able to operate in this way and always follow up:

1.         In my first recruitment job our CRM system was Adapt and I mastered the use of the excellent To-Do List function which basically ran my desk for me – telling me what to do and when.  By ensuring I always logged every action into Adapt it always reminded me when something needed following up (a CV sent to a client, a client/candidate interview occurrence, a 30-day check with a placed candidate).  Using this function quickly taught me about the process of recruiting and even prioritized different tasks for me (I still remember the order of importance: 1 for Offers, 2 for Interview feedback, 3 for CV send outs and 4 for monthly check up calls).  I know this is a popular system, and one Momentum have recently implemented in New Zealand, but I would imagine all recruitment CRM systems would have something similar – use it.

2.         I am a clean desk Nazi.  You know the type.  There aren’t many of them in recruitment companies but I’m one of those rare ones that only likes to have the bare essentials on my desk to recruit with.  For me that means a phone, a computer, a note pad and a pen.  OK I’ll admit to the family photo too, and an occasional cuppa, but that’s it.  Anything else on the desk means it needs actioning before the end of the day – which could be a CV for a candidate to call, or some client visit notes to put into the system.  If my desk is cluttered then my brain is cluttered and I find myself spinning in circles – but this way everything is actioned before I leave at the end of the day and guess what – no-one complains about lack of follow up.

3.         Which leads me onto the third tactic I employ and that is that my e-mail inbox is treated like a virtual, electronic extension of my desk in the real world.  Most of the time it contains no more than 10 e-mails, which will very rarely be more than 2 days old.  If it goes longer than a page and I can’t see the bottom then I get anxious!  OK I know I must have OCD issues going on like crazy here but believe me, it helps hugely with the follow up.  Candidates I want to reject with a standard reject template are put in a “Reject” folder and I will typically send off a load all in one go.  Important messages from clients or candidates are put in other folders, if they don’t require a response, and so on and so forth.  But as long as my inbox is clear then my thinking is clear and I find I can get a whole lot more done.

This last point is of real interest to me.  I have worked with recruiters who stare with genuine astonishment at my empty inbox.  I have had colleagues with literally thousands of e-mails in their inbox, many waiting to be actioned, and many of such little importance they could have been deleted long ago.  Is it little wonder that we always get accused of poor communication and follow up when one of our most important lines of communication is choked full of crap?  I would be tempted to perform an electronic “Heimlich Manoeuvre” on the offending objects causing the choking – and bulk delete the lot of them.

Anyway, this blog post has ended up being far more sanctimonious than I originally intended, but hopefully there is something there that might spur some of you into sorting out your desks and inboxes and getting on top of communicating effectively and efficiently with clients and candidates from now on.

I saw a good video on the BBC website last week about managing your e-mail inbox so there might be some useful info to help there.  Greg Savage also makes a very valid point in his popular blog The Savage Truth that the best thing to do with e-mail is to not do it – pick up the phone instead – it is far more effective!