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A wake-up call for recruitment agencies

Gaining more control in the hiring process

Posted by sikilabs on Feb. 6, 2020

Right now, recruitment agencies have a lot of control over the hiring process. Though the work they do is important, contractors and consultants are often left feeling like pawns in a game. The feeling is so real that major recruitment agencies feel the need to address “myths” about working with agencies — like that recruiters only care about their commission — and put a positive spin on it.

With tech companies like ZipRecruiter using AI to find matching candidates, recruitment agencies should be rethinking their strategy so they can safeguard their jobs. To do this, they’ll need to be able to show the value of working with real human beings — and that starts with creating better relationships with clients and contractors alike.

Here are the key issues that we, from our perspective as developers, think recruitment agencies could address to create trusting relationships that are more beneficial to all parties involved in hiring, including the recruiters themselves.

  1. Lack of transparency about money.

When musicians or writers work with agents, there is usually a clear understanding of how much commission the agent will make for every contract signed. Recruiters are essentially providing the same service to consultants, but the amount of money they make is so often enshrouded in a cloud of secrecy. By hiding how much commission is being taken from our pay, it prevents us from knowing our actual worth and negotiating good terms for ourselves on other projects. And supposing that we find out through other means that the client is paying out far more money than we are receiving, we lose our trust in recruiters and what their real motivations are.

  1. Poor understanding of the job requirements.

A lot of times, recruiters will contact consultants without fully understanding the specific job requirements. On top of that, because recruiters want (or need) to do the job so quickly, they send emails to hundreds of people for a single placement and see who replies, without ever considering whether those people actually have the right skills to match the job. For example, a Python developer might get contacted about a job for a totally different programming language they don’t work with. This practice is disrespectful to contractors, because it wastes their time if they are unqualified candidates. It’s also not great for the client, as they may end up interviewing someone who actually doesn’t fit their needs.

  1. Restrictive contract terms.

In our experience, once a contract is offered, the major recruitment agencies will put unnecessarily restrictive terms on their contracts. For example, standard contracts will stipulate that you can’t work for the client for a year after the contract ends. Considering that as developers we work hard to do a great job for clients and build relationships with them, terms like these put us at a disadvantage if the client would like to hire us after the contract is up. If recruiters took the time to build relationships with contractors, we’d be more inclined to keep working with them, because it means we don’t have to search for anything on our own and that we will work get work that matches our skills and experience. It would also mean that restrictive clauses like these wouldn’t be so important, because we’d see the recruiter as a partner and wouldn’t need to consider approaching clients independently.

  1. Not spending time getting to know the person they are representing.

Recruiters face an enormous amount of pressure to make a placement — their livelihoods depend on it. For every placement, they are taking a gamble on the people they are proposing as candidates and can only hope that one of these people will fit the bill for the client. This often means they don’t take the time to find out the answers to these essential questions: Is the candidate really qualified for the specific job requirements, and are they someone who is nice to work with? If recruiters were to get to know the people they represent, they’d know for sure that they are the right candidates, and because of that, they would have a much easier time confidently selling them to the clients. More time invested in getting to know people could mean quicker placements (and more of them) in the long term.

If recruitment agencies want to stay relevant in the future, they owe it to themselves to rethink how they do things. Taking the time to build relationships of trust will be key to showing their worth to contractors and clients alike — and key to their survival as the world turns more and more to technology. In the end, AI will be able to find matches just as well as recruiters currently can, but computers will never have the ability to create trusting human relationships.