I still remember the word, Placement Services – recruitment services where you posted a resume and if lucky, got called for an interview once during your career; and yes there were some lucky people (maybe their names, relation who got called frequently) in the 1990s that then with the learned people changed to Head Hunting (where they claimed to head hunt the candidate you pointed out or referred) before it became Executive Search and then Mandated Executive Search to whatever it is known today.
During my long career, I have done my fair number of recruitments and more with extremely little success via these agencies and even those that were run by the MNCs or friends who otherwise were extremely good in their own way.
Most of them, have a database, common of course given the propensity of all of us to circulate CVs for better jobs. Depending on the person scrutinising, your name popping up, being called, free, selected and then they getting paid. For them it can be anybody they still make their 8.33% – 20% All of them do claim to have a unique database, selective approach, successful placement of CXO levels even if they supply to BPOs. Upon closer scrutiny or questioning you realise that someone they placed, 8-12 years ago has now reached the senior level or once in a way CXO level.
To be fair, there are some who stick to Mandate search in specific industry or level and are discreet with great relationship skills, but these can be counted on your finger tips.
I have too many instances with them, writing would take a book, but in the recent past I’ve had a couple of experiences reaffirms my belief that it is just a brokering business, no better, no worse than insurance, stock and maybe even housing.
Episode 1: Desperate calls during the afternoon from an unknown number, finally called back to hear a lady saying Mr. Desai, you have been referred by XYZ (yes I knew him) for this fantastic position with ABC the leader in their industry. Please email me your CV. Whoa lady, take a breath, I need some some more information before we take this further, such as company name, location, position, profile, reporting. She said You were from the same industry so do not tell anybody, I will share details; to her credit basic vague details were given, I sent her a brief profile, writing clearly that for that industry, the name would be sufficient. The insistence for ‘detailed’ CV continued for a couple of days and then quiet. A month later, as is my unfortunate habit called up to find out what the scene was and was told that they are evaluating. During this period, I had met the company chairman socially and he had shared that this company was following up so he asked them to send some resumes over, but he would not mandate a search. Imagine this from one of the top five branded Executive Search firms.
Episode 2: I have become extremely paranoid about accepting LinkedIn invitations. However, someone who I know and respect introduced a couple of people and I accepted the invites. Bam! 1) Please refer me to your connections for their hiring needs 2) Are you recruiting? I am on the lookout for a change.
Episode 3: This is what happened yesterday and actually forced me to write this and vent my ire. A close friend, was on the lookout for Territory Sales Managers – incidentally one of the easiest to locate on Job Sites, but his HR manager was on maternity leave and he decided to try out these 3-4 executive search – after, briefing, sharing profile and being assured that they have a ready database sent 7 resume between 3 of them after 17 days. On the day of the interview, nobody turned up and the search firm was busy.
Now, my learned friends on Twitter did tell me
1) 17 days was too less a time for a turn around? For a TSM in the price bracket of 20-25 K
2) Offered references of a couple of friends who ran executive search but were unwilling to guarantee.
3) Blamed the candidates – Fair enough but all 7? from 3 different agencies.
There will always be candidates that will keep job hopping, never appear for interviews & companies do keep tabs of such or the HR person does mostly by memory.
There will always be companies that will have weird demands, pay late or change terms etc, but that happens with all businesses.
But as a Business, an agency that harps on Service, how difficult is it today
1) To organise data constructively, given the cheap technology
2) To categorise candidates and companies, black list as necessary
3) Charge a premium and provide consistently excellent service
4) Split fees like the housing brokers do
But I think it is more from a perspective of Work Ethics, integrity and abundance of manpower & agency availability.
If not this company/agency/candidate. But other industries have done it – advertising, branding, leasing etc. and that has shaken out the ethically challenged or raised the service standards to at least a bit more respectable level.
If not then there is no ‘Search’ involved. It is straight & plain broker, which also seems difficult, given the fact that they are unable to provide fast turn arounds like a house broker.
This article appeared first in DNA Oct Nov 29, 2013 http://t.co/e4EY8sKzCj