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How to get the best out of your recruitment consultancy

If you were a fan of James Martin’s Saturday Kitchen you would be familiar with his regular feature the Omelette Challenge – where world-class chefs, glistening in Michelin stars, raced against each other to cook theirs the quickest. Chef Theo Randall’s time of 14:76, set on 2nd May 2015, is, in fact, recognised by Guiness as a world record.

The results varied. Some were passable, some a sloppy pile of scrambled egg, while a few missed the plate altogether. The risk of Salmonella aside, you wouldn’t want to eat any of them.

Does that mean they’re not brilliant chefs? Of course not. It’s not the skill that is lacking, they just needed a few more minutes.

In recruitment, non-exclusive searches can feel like an omelette challenge. They are, ostensibly, a CV race. The first recruiter to get a CV in gets the placement. It’s not pretty; it’s stressful for all parties and a positive outcome is more luck than judgement.

No doubt about it, talent attraction and retention remain a challenge for HR in some sectors. The temptation as a hiring manager is to cast the net wide – a 10-heads-are-better-than-one mentality. Sometimes, the result is passable (if it looks like an omelette, smells like an omelette and tastes like an omelette, it is an omelette), but often the result is sloppy, rushed and the experience for both candidate and client is poor.

When you’re paying for Michelin-Star quality you rightly expect exemplary service and an experience that is far superior to your high street fast-food outlet. Likewise, to expect a quality result from a search conducted under race conditions is unrealistic.

The way it should be: A textbook case study

I successfully placed a senior-level hire with a major international organisation, recently. The way it unfolded was a textbook case study of how a quality recruitment process works in practice.

I registered the role exclusively, in person, during a 90-minute discovery meeting, on the Monday. A timescale was agreed on CV submissions, capped at four candidates, with extensive qualifying and shortlisting undertaken beforehand. Only suitable candidates, who had been thoroughly briefed, vetted and competency assessed were submitted.

Three candidates were invited for first-stage interview, and all received excellent feedback. As a sector specialist, regionally focused recruiter I know the market. My personal frontrunner on submission performed exceptionally.

She was swiftly progressed to second interview with the MD, closely followed by two additional meetings with peers across the business to better understand the culture and to solidify relationships.

Recognising the quality of the candidate, an offer was made – at the top end of the advertised salary with no lowballs, no need for back and forth and no power plays. As a result, the offer was accepted within five minutes. An offer letter was in the successful candidate’s Inbox by lunchtime.

A great candidate experience, especially in a competitive market, makes all the difference in attracting top talent. As such, the Head of HR arranged an in-person meeting to walk through the contract and answer any questions.

The candidate had an amazing experience, was kept engaged and motivated throughout, and already felt like a valued part of the senior team before she’d even signed on the dotted line.

 Exclusivity gives your recruiter time to properly qualify and refine your shortlist, do the appropriate due diligence, and invest the time needed to properly deep dive into the market to source the very best people.

The result

The main objection around exclusivity is the time an organisation could be without a business-critical person in post. The thinking is, the more people you have contributing, the more likely you are to find a replacement quickly.

In this instance, I asked for seven days and delivered the right candidate in two. Exclusivity meant the message to market was not diluted by other consultants; it was clear, consistent and concise. I was reassured by my client that if I dedicate my time and resources to their project alone, my own personal risk was low. As such, this was a recruitment partnership in its truest form.

The risk we see all too often is in a rushed process. Pressure to compete with others, racing against the clock, doesn’t yield great results, whether you are making an omelette or recruiting for your team.

Exclusivity isn’t solely for the recruiter’s benefit, it is for yours, too.

Lydia Johnson

Lydia Johnson

Lydia has a proven track record for securing high quality office support staff and senior commercial professionals, for businesses across Shropshire and the Black Country. As an experienced, regionally focused sector specialist she is a trusted talent ally to her clients.

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