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It was 10.41am yesterday when the text came through. “We got on AoG. Heard of others yet?”. And with this it was done. The fate of many a Wellingtonian recruiter was set to play out over the next few hours. At around 12.15 we heard from the next successful applicant. Another tech recruitment firm. And at 2.41pm another called to confirm that they got the big green tick. This time a larger group. Shortly after we hear of our first rejection. A heartbreakingly brilliant boutique recruiter who works almost exclusively in the Government space. As today pans out, and as perhaps a few beers flow this afternoon, a new recruitment landscape will emerge across the capital. Given that the plan is to save money, and you save money by rationalising a long list, there will surely be celebration, but also plenty of crushing disappointed. Given how badly the process has been run from the very beginning, I’m sure we will all see a few surprises on who didn’t make the cut. We’ve already been surprised here at Rice Towers at the exclusion of a couple of Wellington’s finest.

I must confess that I laboured under the assumption that applicants would be informed of the outcome simultaneously. Without displaying my usually level of pedantry, there is an advantage in knowing that you’re on the panel before others. If you were interviewing a Recruiter yesterday and could say “yes we’re on” when other firms are still waiting, you have a distinct advantage. If you’re trying to persuade a government agency to work exclusively with you, being able to confirm ahead of others that you are a card carrying AoG supplier would certainly help. Coincidently, I had a senior candidate interviewing yesterday with a firm vying to get on the panel. Little did I know when I woke up that the time of this interview yesterday would absolutely decide the outcome. Thankfully, yesterday the Recruitment Gods were smiling upon me. However, when I spoke to Recruitment Agencies who had heard back, the email time stamp was very different for all. One email was received at 9am, another at 10.13, another at 11.52. It would seem that as opposed to a simultaneous announcement, emails were trickle fed throughout the day. Not so bad if you received it at 9am, f*cking painful if you’re still smashing send/receive at 4pm. It also doesn’t seem like MBIE did it by industry. Or sent all the “yes’s” before the “no’s”. And it’s not alphabetical. Aardvark Recruitment were not told before Zebra Executive Search. It would seem that MBIE, so scared of continuing their catalogue of colossal cock-ups, decided to manually check and send each email in an order known only to them. Given that MBIE like to read (and then report) my AoG blogs, perhaps that could comment below on the methodology?

It is my assumption however that all Recruitment Agencies were told their outcome yesterday – but please, again, comment below if you haven’t.

A few things dawned on me last night. Firstly, the sadness of the whole thing. As much as it could be viewed as a time of celebration for a number of recruiters, for those already on the panel it isn’t. It’s relief. The only people who will truly celebrate are those who have never been on the panel before. And even for these folk, this celebration will be mixed with trepidation about what they’ve actually signed up for. The true heartbreak is for those smaller firms who see 80% plus of their revenue coming from government agencies. Typically, these people are true specialists who are masters of their niche. As someone who works in the industry and also (occasionally) pays tax, it is these firms that provide true value to the tax payer. When these don’t get on, and some haven’t, the government loses out, the taxpayer loses out, and what becomes of these recruiters? They wake up this morning with 10 years hard graft on the scrapheap. I don’t feel good about any of it.

Secondly, it occurred to me how much this AoG carry-on as impacted my desk – and we didn’t even try to get on the panel. Admittedly I’ve enjoyed throwing hand grenades in from the safety of my bunker, however, only on reflection do I realise how frustrating it has been running a rec-to-rec desk when everyone is waiting on news. Like the pause on musical chairs, candidates and clients alike have been glued to their chair, waiting for “Itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, yellow, polka dot bikini” to fire back up. That’s not to say we haven’t made placements, but they’ve been with different firms, different industries, and increasingly hard-fought. I’m f*cking glad it’s all over.

Given how much recruiters talk, we’ll soon know who the winners and losers are. For those who were successful, congratulations. For those who didn’t, bear in mind that it can be a poisoned chalice. We were on the panel and decided to walk away from it, so maybe you dodged and time-intensive, and low-margin bullet. For those who truly are reliant on government work but didn’t make the cut, there’s not much that can be said. The process was crap, and your core skills as a Recruiter haven’t diminished. Maybe a greater opportunity awaits you elsewhere.

No more AoG from me thankfully. Have a good weekend.



  • Leigh says:

    Having spent the past year mentoring a boutique recruitment company that is a star in their specialty, and as a former director of an AoG supplier, I agree that AoG procurement processes continue to appall me. No, ‘disgust’ would be a more appropriate word.

    I don’t think they have learned anything over the past decade. And they don’t understand or care about the recruitment industry.

    All the best to those who were successful and even more heartfelt good wishes to those who missed the cut.

  • Steve says:

    I’m saddened (but have enjoyed your humour) when reading your blogs on this issue.

    I don’t believe it’s been a good process from start to finish. Whilst I can appreciate that a large approach to market can have challenges, these should not have been unforeseeable. However, if you want to check out another one that is just as bad – look at the Banking tender. It’s lost one of the biggest banks in the process, and as a result many agencies will have to spend lots of money moving to another supplier. And will – four weeks away from expiry – MBIE are unable to say who have won the tender, giving no time for agencies to undertake secondary procurement.