Combat and the VULTURE Agency – The Tao of Talent Acquisition

Combat and the VULTURE Agency – The Tao of Talent Acquisition

It’s difficult to do things differently. This statement rings true for any job in any industry anywhere. In recruitment one will likely find themselves struggling to combat the preconceptions of their own industry based on the activities of the few that have come before.

In order to “be different”, one needs to begin by identifying their own Scope of Control or Influence. What can you, by your own actions, control? In the grand scheme of things, very little. For instance, as much as I wish I could, I cannot control the weather.

I cannot control trends in specific sectors. I cannot control the emotional outbursts of my son when he finds out we’re having a salad for dinner. And I cannot control, nor can I influence, the actions of my competition. But I can, with some effort, support the way you can apply your own influence.

For me, a perfect example of Scope of Control is dealing with what I like to refer to as “The Vulture”. To me, The Vulture is the unscrupulous agency or recruiter. They are the bane of any ethical recruiter’s existence and, arguably, the largest cause for a lack of trust in the industry.

Example: Vultures go Fishing – As a hiring manager, you’ve done your due diligence and posted your position out to the world through whatever format you feel will give you the best return on investment. One week in, you will receive a call or email from an “agency” stating that they have seen your posting and have candidates that match your criteria and would like your email so they can send you their resumes.

On the surface, not the worst thing in the world and something that happens every day. And while not an ideal way to build a relationship, it’s not terrible or malicious… but here’s the rub. As I type this, I’m looking at several postings from a pair of agencies that are, in fact, for a client that we have worked with in the past…albeit not on this particular search. So why does anybody care? Because The Vulture is shady.

Is it unethical? Sure. Is it poor practice? You bet it is. Does it affect me AND YOU directly?

Without question. And here’s how…

First, position yourself as the candidate. Imagine yourself unknowingly throwing your trust into a recruiter or agency who has misrepresented an opportunity. As a candidate you are investing in the relationship with your agency, expecting them to represent you in a truthful manner…but that’s not happening is it?

And you can’t even be mad about it because you don’t even know it’s happening! In this situation, these candidates are the proverbial “carrot”. A bargaining chip. There’s no respect being shown for them or their years of experience and/or education…They are, sadly, little more than a folded up dollar bill being slipped into the palm of the Maitra D’.

Second, as hiring manager, these candidates are being removed from your funnel. That’s it, they’re gone. Unless the candidate gets a whiff that things aren’t on the “up and up”, the only way you’re going to see them is if you sign a search agreement with this firm…it’s talent extortion.

This agency, The Vulture, without your consent, is representing (or misrepresenting) you. They haven’t spent the time to get to know who you are and what you need, nor do they care. There are a lot of poor practices out there, but this might be one of the worst.

So yes, you should care. I should care. We should all care. In fact, I’d argue that I should care more than any other because it’s The Vulture that paints my industry with the same cheap brush and tarnishes reputations and relationships.

If you’ve ever read any blog I’ve posted before, you’ll know my mantra is “to be the candidate’s ambassador to the client, and the client’s ambassador to the candidate” (those blogs are available on our corporate website here).

Now, I cannot do this if my client has been burned by the actions of some shady agency recruiter, and in an industry driven by relationships…that makes things a little tricky. We end up jumping through hoops long before any significant conversation happens creating barriers where none should exist.

The Rules of Battle: So how do you as a hiring manager combat what equates to little more than corporate identity theft?

  • Be aware: If you are located in a more rural part of the world, it’s easy enough to monitor the job postings, I do it every day. In fact, if you’re not doing this already, you should as it will not only give you an idea of who you are competing against for talent, it will also give you a fair reading on the activity in the region.
  • Expand your network: Reach out to the recruiters or agencies working within your region. You will not always need to engage them for a search, but rest assured they will keep a daily eye out on newly posted positions, and they’ll be able to identify fairly quickly when another agency is posting your positions. If you have a preexisting relationship, they become your silent sentry, and maybe just maybe, your partner in your next search.

As for what I’m going to do? Simple…Thunderdome. Two recruiters enter, one recruiter leaves. Wish us luck and somebody please call Tina Turner, I’m going to need walk-in music.

Written by: Geoff Simpson, Business Development/Recruitment Consultant – Northern BC

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