When I was freelancing it was essential to be registered with various agencies. Most of the time I was seen as a resource to pitch to their clients. A resource, a supplier and no more. To me they were potential sources of business.
Most of the time
Occasionally I’m asked to find individuals and teams. While I have “go-to” agencies I’ll happily place business with there are times when I have to go outside this network.
A particular client asked me to go after a half dozen agencies to fill them a developer role we’d agreed on. Per instructions emails, job specs and requests for information were completed and sent out by email. Pretty much as expected one ignored me, one replied with a bunch of CVs and three engaged properly.
It was the sixth that got me though
An automated email arrived thanking me for my CV and inviting me to update my details. It arrived within five minutes of my message being sent. Clearly an automated message, the agency must have flagged me as a freelancer and set up automated responses.
I let it float for a few days, wondering if someone was going to pick up the phone. But no. There was no contact and a possible contract to recruit the start of a development team was lost without a fight.
I come across this all the time
It’s an “old world” view that says there are suppliers and there are customers and ne’er the twain shall meet. That hasn’t been the case for a couple of decades (if ever).
Recruitment seems to have a particular problem with this dynamic. LinkedIn is full of tales of applicants receiving poor service from recruiters. Of course, the role gets filled and the recruiter gets a pat on the back, but to get that one person in post they’ve hacked off a half dozen or more. That’s future hiring managers who are effectively lost as a source of business.
An invisible half a million-pound income lost
I think I shocked a recruiter when I mentioned over half a million pounds worth of agency fees had passed through my hands. From introducing candidates who were subsequently hired to defining team roles to interviewing to even recommending the final hiring decision, over the past half-dozen years my fingerprints have been on a lot of hiring decisions.
None of this is visible. All that agencies see is a freelancer that does – or does not – match their needs right now. Not even their client’s needs.
And I get this. I understand it. It just helps to inform my decisions when people ask me where to go if they need to hire people.
Is there a fix?
Recruitment has become a numbers game for many, and while a few recruiters continue to fight the good fight, they’re few and far between. Even my favourite agency has suffered a little, their staff becoming less engaging as they’ve grown.
Which is sad, because companies are missing out on some great people.
Maybe the solution is to stop using agencies. Maybe it’s to take the new technologies by the horns and return to the days when “HR” managed their own talent pipelines independent of anything delivered by agencies. Perhaps we’ll see a return to “no agencies” appearing on job adverts.
And that agency?
A few weeks later I sent them an updated CV and included a reference to the missed opportunity. An hour later the phone rang with a bunch of questions about “what opportunity?” Angrily I was told I should have called them when I didn’t get a reply. I told them not to treat prospective customers so badly.
They’re no longer on my contact list.
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