Get a mop and wipe it up!

A better recruitment process

, posted: 2-Oct-2006 13:54

There are several things wrong with the current process (note that I have never been through the entire process with an agency, so I may be very wrong in my assumptions, and some agencies are better than this):

  •  agency posts minimalist advert to pique interest from potential candidates.
  • candidate contacts agency with cover letter + CV OR phone call OR email alone.
  • agency persuades candidate to send CV, if not already done, before candidate has enough information to decide whether the opportunity is worth pursuing.
  • agency shortlists candidates based on CV and any other communications.
  • agency interviews shortlisted candidates.
  • client interviews those recommended by the agency.
  • candidate finally gets all the information they need about the opportunity.

But what is really wanted?

  • the client wants a great employee/contractor.
  • the employee/contractor wants a great opportunity.
  • neither wants a slow, time-consuming or expensive process. In particular, interviews are the wrong stage to be finding out mandatory pre-requisites from either party.
  • the agency wants a fee.

The process is like match-making -- both parties reveal more and more information to each other until they decide to proceed to a relationship, or go their separate ways looking elsewhere.

The problem, it seems to me, is that the process is biased in favour of the employer. The candidate is expected to reveal their hand (via their CV), while the employer is still holding many cards back.

Another problem is agencies posting extremely vague advertisements that probably do not relate to any specific employers, just to get candidates onto their books.

My idealised recruitment process looks like this:

  • agency posts advert containing at least location, remuneration range (similar to listing houses by price bracket), and compulsory skills, plus any other information to pique interest.
  • candidate contacts agency with enquiry and if interested, sends a mini-CV, containing a list of skills, remuneration band sought, preferred project type and any non-negotiable criteria. It omits the pages of employment history.
  • agency responds with more detailed description of opportunity (rough size of company, vertical market, project details, development methodologies, company culture eg dress code, working hours, etc). Ideally, the agency would reveal the name of the company. In exchange, the candidate would agree to not bypass the agency in seeking to work for the company.
  • candidate sends full CV to agency.
  • agency shortlists candidates based on CV and any other communications.
  • agency interviews shortlisted candidates.
  • client interviews those recommended by the agency.

While this is actually more steps than the original process, the benefit is that both parties have had greater opportunity to filter out "mismatches" earlier in the process, to the benefit of all. So there should be less false positives -- candidates that appear to be contenders, but drop out when they get more information about the opportunity and the company.


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Comment by tonyhughes, on 2-Oct-2006 14:23

Hi David - welcome to Geekzone Blogs. Some companies dont even have that much process in place, and merely cast a basic net out, and spend a lot of time trawling through the crud.

Recently I had extended leave between roles, and when I decided to go back to work, I applied for several jobs that I was 90% sure I would absolutely get, and yet didnt even get shortlisted by the agency.

Thankfully though, I ended up with an opportunity that came about via word of mouoth and personal recommendation.

I agree for the most part with what you are saying, and think that even a lot of modern business seem to have gotten caught up in business practices from the 1960s when it comes to recruitment.

When does your new agency open? :-)

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David White
New Zealand

Goon fan, .NET developer, contrarian seeker of truth