How I didn’t get a job in HR

How I didn't get a job in HR

In America, for the most part, work vacancies are filled in the market. Companies post job advertisements on their own website, a jobs board, a puzzle billboard, or put a sign in the window looking for employees. Potential employees then have to go out and contact companies they might want to work for and apply directly to the company. The placement industry is not used nearly as much as it is in the UK and, when it is used, it tends to be for specific, high-level roles.

So it was a surprise when, a few weeks after moving to London, I was approached about an HR Role by a recruiter. She asked for permission to submit my CV to the hiring manager.

I paused. The job description asked for someone with a degree related to HR, at least five years of HR experience, and evidence that I could handle the responsibilities of running a recruitment division – none of which I had. I expressed my misgivings to the recruiter, to which she replied:

“They aren’t actually looking for recruitment experience; just the right sort of person – tenacious & driven. We can try if you are interested?”

I’ll admit – I was interested. But why was she so eager to nominate me? Clearly, she would receive a fee if I was placed, and wouldn’t lose anything if I wasn’t. Based on what I could tell about the system, the employer then spent time looking at dozens or hundreds of CVs of people who were completely unfit for their empty position – and probably had to answer calls from recruiters arguing in favour of underqualified candidates.

The big winner in this system is the job-seekers; instead of each person having to become an expert in selling themselves to employers, as they have to do in the US, they are able to focus on doing a good job.  They have an expert representing them in the marketplace who spends all day looking at jobs and trying to match people to positions. In theory, there is an incredible efficiency there for job seekers.

Recruiters are potential winners; they have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by nominating unqualified candidates. It’s like sales: they may as well ask, because if the company says yes, they’ve won a sale; if the company says no, they’ve lost nothing.

But employers lose time, since they have to sort through a lot of chaff in order to get to the grain, with persistent recruiters hustling them to pick candidates that don’t have the skills to serve the role. I imagined that this must get annoying – and, after I learned about placement fees, it’s clearly expensive.

Thus, it would make sense that employers would prefer a system that delivered pre-vetted candidates that actually met the employers’ requirements and desires, so that they would spend less time sorting through CVs. It would make sense that employers would want to cut out the rewards that incentivise recruiters to push forward unqualified candidates. It would make sense to reduce the cost to employers by not paying placement fees, but paying only for the work actually done to find qualified candidates.

Is there a better way? Actually, yes.

The new system – which has been around for years, actually – is what we do at Write Research. Our clients only get candidates who have been screened and are qualified for the proposed job; they aren’t just active job seekers, but also “passive”, qualified candidates who are already working. Our clients receive all of the contact information for candidates; we don’t show them people with information redacted, but instead, we deliver transparency. That means that the clients can contact anyone they wish, knowing exactly what these people are like. We also don’t charge placement fees; instead, we charge for the work we actually do.

The question I now have: how can more people – on both sides of the pond – take advantage of the new system, rather than sticking with the old ones?

As always, I would be delighted to hear your thoughts and responses. Engage below or send me a message.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andrew solves business challenges with the best talent and insight at the talent & insight consultancy WRC/Capita. He is an expert on talent for the financial services sector and reducing leadership risk. Comments and articles are his own views.

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