I met a recruitment client this week who has done a very nice job building up an Executive Recruitment business over the last few years. Being an Executive recruiter he obviously has high standards, he is an accomplished recruiter and he recognizes that he has to provide a service that is a real cut above the competition to win the big fees from his clients.
So I was surprised to learn that he has abandoned the practice of compiling a “Candidate Profile” or “Candidate Report” to go with each CV he submits to his clients. Apparently he has discovered that they are a waste of time and hardly any of his clients bother reading it. On occasion he might put a few lines in the e-mail accompanying the attached CV, but that is it. His clients have enough faith in his judgement and if he recommends someone then that is enough for them to interview.
Now I have seen recruitment companies taking things to the other extreme. A CV submitted to a client is merely the icing on the cake, with the cake being a big, sugary, stodgy lump of reports, interview transcripts, verbatim reference checks and psychometric analyses with mind-bending graphs and summaries. But if you think about it, is all of this absolutely necessary? Or is it, as I am starting to suspect, more a pious front of pomp and ceremony designed to justify the potentially large outlay in recruitment fees by the client?
Let’s look at it this way: I bought a house back in 2007 (yeah poor me…top of the market…boohoo). The estate agent handed me a big ring-bound stack of conveyance documents, titles, reports and marketing materials. All I looked at was the basic information like land size and number of bedrooms and paid closest attention to the photos. Let’s equate this to the CV. Then I decided to view the property, and rather liked it. Let’s equate this to the interview. See where I’m going here? Likewise if you go to a travel agents to book a holiday (possibly a poor analogy – does anyone actually do this anymore?) Are you more swayed by the glossy brochure, or the travel agent actually relaying their own experiences of the holiday destination to you?
Back to the CV Profiles and I do actually write them up myself. Often just a one-pager. But only if I have interviewed the candidate in person and can express my genuine observations and opinions in the report. I do many telephone interviews in my job too and these just come with a few lines in an e-mail instead. Writing up a report after not actually meeting someone in person is just false and pointless. Even then, I have on numerous occasions had clients call me up to ask what a candidate’s salary expectations and visa situation is, even though it is all in the Profile, and I know they have just gone straight to the CV.
In contingency recruitment, where a recruiter can potentially do a lot of work for nothing and will only get a fee if the referred candidate actually ends up accepting a role, it is very tempting to just flick the CV across and not risk wasting your time on a report when it might not yield any income. However, as soon as you allow yourself to enter this way of thinking, you become another one of those bottom-feeding “flick and stick” merchants (or not stick as is usually the case) that give recruitment a bad name. There is a big difference between just sending a CV (or even a Linked In profile, as I have done before) to clients who value and trust your judgement and don’t need all of the frills, and recruiters who do this to clients they have no relationship or connection with, and are just lazy and looking to cut corners. If you truly believe your candidate is right for the job, writing a report demonstrates you have belief in your convictions, and is never a waste of time.
But I do think that many recruitment companies go totally overboard with this and I would challenge these destroyers of rain forests in the thinking behind their actions. Yes there are clients out there who will wonder at the expense of a $10k+ recruitment fee, but it is wrong to try and justify the fee through physical embodiments of “look at all of the hard work my team has done compiling this massive report”. In these instances explain, instead, that the fee is partly for the immediate services rendered, but also to reflect the years of unpaid work that has gone into building up the level of knowledge, expertise, contacts and networks required to actually tap into and access the talent that you are able to put forward in such a short space of time.
By the way, I just asked my wife about this. She used to be an internal recruiter before becoming Charlie and Bonnie’s PA. She says she liked the reports and always read them. She probably read the entire ring-bound set of documents from our estate agent too.
So what do I know? It would be good to get your opinions…