Firms Should Re-Think How They Manage Their Talent Pipeline
Merrill Banks, CSP, CEO, LLoyd Staffing
There has been a dominant trend in Corporate America for many companies to turn over the responsibility of writing their firm’s contingency search agreements to the corporate legal department. The results are technically proficient contracts, that are now sadly deficient when it comes to true “Human Resources.”
I have lived my career in staffing and search. I will tell you that a good and professional contingency search partner works on behalf of their clients with a responsibility to identify, screen and refer the best selection of candidates for their client to review and then select for interview and hire. The “disconnect” occurs when a company’s agreement with their search firm states that if a candidate has previously applied to the client employer, a fee will not be paid to the referring agent – and frequently, there is not even a time period indicated for when or why someone may have previously applied.
I am telling you now, that this condition is strangling your company’s hiring ability and is keeping you from seeing exceptional talent.
Under a restricted agreement, your search partner must now begin the vetting process of having every candidate list where they sent their resumes and when! In an age where one click can send a resume to a disclosed or undisclosed employer, this kind of monitoring becomes nearly impossible.
However, if a candidate indicates your company may already possess their resume, (but may never even have acknowledged receiving it), the search agent can now market and refer these candidates to your competitors who do not have such agreements. This ideal person, who may reside deep in your files, will never be presented to you. He or she may have applied several jobs ago or even recently. The version of their resume that you possess, may not accurately reflect their current capabilities – but according to your policy, this candidate will never make the presentation list from your staffing firm because you already “own” them! Good for you – except it’s buried treasure, hiding undiscovered in your own files.
During the search process, your staffing partner needs to be very careful to never even mention a particular candidate’s name, because once they do and the company searches their database and locates that individual’s resume, the staffing company has lost the opportunity to earn its fee. Being an effective and responsible contingency search partner to an employer with this kind of database ownership policy is both difficult and tremendously limiting.
When Human Resources professionals tell me they believe their company has been targeted as an organization to recruit from rather than place with, and ask me why this may have happened, I tell them to review their contingency search agreements to find the answer.
Everyday we experience excellent candidates who accept a career offer with a company other than with a client – simply because our client never even had the opportunity of interviewing them. Your resume database is only meaningful if it is being searched as hard and as effectively as the staffing firm who is working to earn this privilege. In any given day, hundreds of thousands of resumes are emailed. Receiving one is only a small part of the vetting process and the client organizations that understand this always have the greater selection of candidates to interview.
I personally do not understand why any company is willing to lose the opportunity to interview top talent? I encourage HR to be involved in the agreement process and to work with their contingency search partner’s input on a positive and fair relationship for both parties.
For example, consider implementing agreement wording that reads, “If the company has contacted the candidate and/or interviewed the individual for the same position within the last six (6) months, no fee will be paid to the contingency search firm.” This is the type of condition that works for both parties.
Presumably, a company’s intent is to lower the need for external staffing suppliers and reduce outside costs. This means a company must also be identifying these candidates on their own from within their databases and then hiring them. The reality though, is that these candidates are not being found. We know because they tell us the company has their resume, but has not called them. Many may have submitted resumes for a different position or with a subsidiary of a parent company. These candidates will remain undiscovered if not for the due diligence of the staffing firm. Across America, company databases are growing fat with hidden talent.
Any company that truly believes that its greatest asset is its people, will not employ this detrimental no fee policy. Finding a qualified resume is one small part of the hiring process and a good contingency search firm will not only be able to identify qualified candidates and screen out others, but will also help navigate a candidate through the interview process and negotiate an offer package ensuring the greatest chance for hire. If a company has engaged a staffing firm to help them fill a position, regard them as an extension of your company – indeed, as a teammate and not an adversary.