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March 17, 2010 / Mervyn Dinnen

Never Mind The Quality…Feel The Width

Although I believe it was created for a TV sitcom, the phrase ‘Never Mind The Quality…Feel The Width’ has long been used as an expression signifying quantity over quality.

It certainly neatly summarises many modern recruiters…but I wonder if they are entirely to blame?

Volume and speed seem to have taken over from matching and selection, from the ‘throw as many CVs their way and they’re bound to hire someone’ approach of many 3rd party recruiters to the ‘have you got any more CVs, I don’t think that we’ve seen enough’ procrastination of many internal recruiters/hiring managers.

To an extent, recruiters have largely helped to bring this on themselves for four main reasons:

1)      Not really understanding their market, nor taking a detailed, qualified brief, has led to a service model where sending a number of CVs and letting the client select who to interview is often now the norm

2)      Not properly sourcing for a specific role, but just posting an ad on a job board leads to numerous responses which lazy, or heavily sales targeted, recruiters can’t really be bothered to properly assess

3)       Recruiters’ KPIs in many agencies include numbers of CVs sent per vacancy or number of ‘send outs’ per candidate as metrics. Too many consultants look at a new vacancy as an opportunity to send out a number of CVs.

4)      In an attempt to seal an exclusive vacancy, recruiters are often encouraged to offer a number of CVs to a client as a way of closing off the need for that client to brief a competitor.

But don’t run away with the idea that this is necessarily all the fault of recruiters…

…how many times do you hear a client say ‘there must be someone else out there’ or I can’t believe that there aren’t more candidates looking at the moment’…

I spoke to an internal recruiter the other day regarding a difficult to fill senior contingency role and was told that the 2 key decision makers wanted to review a large number of CVs – 20 had been mentioned – to ensure that they had really covered the market. This for a role in which finding 3 relevant CVs in the current market would be a challenge. The role is seemingly an urgent one, yet they want to get it right I was told. Logic would seem to be that if they review a large number of CVs then they would feel more comfortable with the final decision…

Is it a chicken and egg situation? Do clients now expect to see a large number of CVs because their recruitment suppliers feel that sending a large number of CVs qualifies as good recruitment business? A way of showing your client that you speak to lots of candidates, have a wide network and therefore there is no need to contact a competitor?

Or do recruiters send over the volume of CVs that their clients ask for? Do corporate recruiters now expect to see a range of CVs as part of a hiring process? As a way of ensuring that they have thoroughly ‘searched’ the market?

Let me know what you think….

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2 Comments

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  1. Stephen O'Donnell / Mar 17 2010 1:12 AM

    Education, education, education. Bloody stupid, idiotic, unreasonable, indecisive, incompetent, and ineffectual clients! That’s what I used to shout after gently putting the phone down on yet another employer who was incapable of making a decision on the candidates I had submitted.
    “Can we see a few more CV’s please?” they’d witter.
    This is one of the key points where you should earn your fee, by actually educating the client. Letting them know, in some detail, the availability of candidates for this role, at that salary, in this location, and willing to work for their company, are all parts of the job that require a degree of gumption. Unfortunately, in difficult markets many recruiters don’t feel confident enough to pass on any bad news, and they simply resign themselves to throwing more candidates at the client. Impotent recruiters are not only dropping their rates like a street hooker on a Monday night, but are also agreeing to whatever “Terms” the client chooses to dictate to them. Agreeing to anything, also includes as many CV’s as they ask for.
    Many’s the time I’ve had to speak frankly to a client. Going over their specific requirements, stated at the beginning of the assignment, reviewing the candidates already submitted, and reassuring them that they represent the best individuals for interview.
    When there is only one candidate, they need to know the scarcity of suitable candidates, and if comparison is needed, to measure the person against the job spec and those previously recruited to a similar role.
    Low self esteem is leading many recruiters to be pushovers, instead of the professional consultants they need to be.

    Look, you’ve got me all riled up. I think I’ll blog about this myself. http://www.ayeright.com

  2. Alconcalcia / Mar 17 2010 9:25 AM

    A good recruiter knows what his client wants, just as a good estate agent (a rarity) knows what their customer wants. i.e. both listen, absorb the information and supply who or what has been described. Many was the time during house hunting days when despite nailing down an area, a size of property and a price range, through the post would come bigger, more expensive houses in a different part of town. Fortunately I have never been given the run around by recruiters in terms of mismatching my skills, experience and aspirations, but I can see why many people have been.

    To me it’s a case of not being able to take a brief, or simply not listening. Just grabbing the job description, seeing the job title, thinking to themselves, yeah we’ve got plenty of those on our database and then bombarding the client with mainly irrelevant candidates – a bit like my experience with estate agents – infuriating and time wasting, but sadly oh so common an event.

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