One of the strongest arguments against the practice of contingent recruitment is that the speed of response required to beat your competitors and get the wins up on your whiteboards dilutes the quality of service to your clients and candidates. Smug, goatee-beard-stroking, retained assignment recruiters brandishing exclusive deals with their clients smirk into their chilled Chardonnays over leisurely lunches with a member of their prospective shortlist as stories are regaled of desperate contingency recruiters scrambling over each other to fire away said candidate’s CV the quickest.
But the huge majority of us out there are contingency recruiters, in the trenches, fighting hard to get some wins on the board, and finding ourselves in the necessary evil position of working at speed to fight off the competition. Sure, many of you aspire to work more roles on a retained basis (hopefully without the need to grow a goatee), but this takes time, building of long-standing relationships, a significant track record. All good things to work towards but not always something you can achieve in your early years of recruiting . You can’t go to Barnet in England’s League Two and say “Look, we know you want to be more like Arsenal down the road and play in the Premier League, but you need to stop running around, shooting and missing the goal so much….just make sure you take fewer shots but that they go in more often.” It just doesn’t work that way.
But as the market hots up again and the battle for top talent intensifies, there is no doubt that the recruiters who respond the quickest and most effectively, and the clients who behave in the same way, will come out with the results they are looking for. But I wonder if this fact has sunk into the New Zealand business community yet. Even in Australia, where it is widely acknowledged that the market is hotter than a nuclear fuel rod, frustrations amongst recruiters persist. One of my Aussie Linked In connections commented a week ago:
“Time kills all deals. Candidates now have MULTIPLE opportunities. Don’t let the good candidates slip through your fingers”
Time kills all deals eh? I’m not a fan of the phrase, mainly because it was the mantra of a particularly nefarious recruiter I once worked with and sends shudders down my spine, but it is true nevertheless. Many recruiters responded to this simple comment with frustrations of their own.
So I thought I would test these frustrations against the very same recruitment industry that is expressing frustrations with their own clients. OK, recruiters are starting to miss out on placements due to the time it is taking their clients to decide, so how good is the recruitment industry at moving quickly in a tightening labour market? I collated the following information on average time to hire from my own clients in the recruitment industry, for the past five Quarters, the number being the average days it took from the date of the first interview to making the formal offer of employment:
Q1 2010 13 days
Q2 2010 24 days
Q3 2010 23 days
Q4 2010 29 days
Q1 2011 14 days
There does seem to be a clear increase in the sense of urgency amongst many New Zealand recruitment companies in reaching a quicker hiring decision than they did last year. Although they were equally quick in the first Quarter of 2010. Was this industry excitement at the launching of Rice Consulting and an unquenchable desire to use my services as quickly as possible? Or is the first Quarter of each year always filled with greater levels of optimism and bravery that lead to faster hiring decisions?
Whatever the truth behind these numbers, there is no doubt that recruitment companies that want to secure top talent in 2011 are not going to be allowed to slope back towards the 23-29 days kind of mark again. Those that do will find the candidate you just offered has already been working for your competitor for two weeks and has just paid a visit to your top client.