Why This Recruiter Wants to Change Recruiting

My New Approach to Recruitment.

Finding, hiring, and retaining talented team members is a real struggle for many employers (cue fiddle music). With the unemployment rate hovering at 3.6% in the US, representing a 49-year low, the number of highly-qualified, high-performing job seekers just isn’t keeping up with demand. 

source: tradingeconomics.com

Some companies are coming up with smart, innovative solutions to find under-appreciated talent sources, or finding ways to train their own people to fill the senior level gaps. There’s not a right or wrong answer here, but the reality is that most employers when faced with a hard-to-fill role turn to a…

3rd party recruitment agency (cue Jaws music).


DISCLAIMER: Not all recruiters are hungry sharks, not even most. But they (we) sure do have a bad reputation out there.

Working as both an in-house recruiter at a web development firm, and as a freelance 3rd party recruiter has afforded me some insights that have inspired me to throw the switch and make a change in the way that recruitment is approached, particularly as it relates to small and mid-sized businesses in the software development space.

Out with the old

There are plenty of scenarios where engaging a traditional 3rd party recruiter is the right thing to do. Retained executive search firms fill a need that standard sourcing often fails to meet. Short turn-arounds, emergency situations, and specialized roles may be tough to fill in-house and warrant the premiums that come with the territory. Hopefully your business isn’t in a constant state of hiring emergency.

For all the other scenarios, I suggest that the model we see today with contingency-based recruiting services is in need of a significant overhaul. Small and mid-sized businesses need a better way to engage with recruiting services.

Here are some of the gaps I see with the traditional commission-based contingency recruitment model.

  1. Misaligned Incentives: There’s a lot of counterproductive behavior going on in the recruitment and hiring space, and it’s not just recruiters, employers are just as guilty. The commission-based recruitment model is too often incentivizing the wrong behaviors from both recruiters and employers.
    • Bigger Salary = Bigger Payout – If a recruiter’s pay is tied to the salary of the candidate then the incentive is to sell you, the employer, a candidate at the highest possible price. 
    • Hire the Best Candidate – If you make it to the end of your hiring process with an A+ candidate that came from a recruiter, and an A- candidate that came from your own sourcing efforts, the commission-based model makes it harder (significantly more expensive) to hire the best candidate. In the tech industry, the average is 22% more.
    • Ownership of Candidates – No one owns candidates, but with a strictly commission-based engagement the secret name of a candidate is often the only leverage that a recruiter may have. Sharing that name comes at a high price, and I believe that it shouldn’t.
    • Risk Free? – Recruiters do A LOT of work for free. There are way too many scenarios where employers need to find someone right away, so they reach out to a recruiter who puts a lot of time and effort into serving their client well, only to find out that the job posting is being canceled for one of a dozen of reasons. Meanwhile, the recruiter’s attention has been diverted from valid opportunities. It’s not good for revenue or customer service, and I believe that employers should carry some of the risk here.
  2. Guarantee Periods – Are there companies that hire highly skilled workers from recruiters without taking them through their own vetting process? I’ve yet to meet one. Why then are recruiters on the hook for a mis-hire that walks off the job on day 89? Wouldn’t an evaluation of your hiring process that helps you identify gaps and minimize mis-hires be more valuable than a guarantee period?
  3. Tunnel Vision – With a big juicy carrot (or bucket of chum), ranging from 15-25+%, hanging out there, it’s no surprise that recruiters do things they shouldn’t. Spamming, withholding information, not listening, and spending less than 6 six seconds looking at a resume while on the phone with a potential candidate. If you’re an employer, working with a recruiter, you don’t want those behaviors associated with your brand.

In with the new

There’s really nothing new under the sun, but with the problems outlined above, it’s time for a fresh look at how recruiting is approached. It’s time for a change that makes things better for both sides of the desk.

I’ve developed an approach to recruitment that redistributes risks, realigns incentives, and creates a partnership, rather than a competition between employer and talent acquisition consultant. 

If you’re a manager or employer of software development professionals and you’re feeling any of the pain-points described above, then we should talk.

1 thought on “Why This Recruiter Wants to Change Recruiting”

  1. Lance, I see that by living in a 5th wheel camper you are practicing remote working, not just writing about it. You were recommended to me by a friend and former manager. I look forward to talking with you.

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