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How To Retain Employees Without Money

A great recruiter…or a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

“He’s a fantastic recruiter! He got me my last 5 jobs!” A hiring manager recently shared that this is what one candidate said about his last recruiter during an interview.

Something doesn’t sit right here…does it?

Sounds more like a character from Wolf of Wall Street than a real recruiting partner.

I’ve heard from many a hiring manager that they suspect their recruiter is working for their candidates and their own self-interests, NOT for them, the CLIENT, who is footing the bill.

I’m the first one to say, I in effect serve two clients as a recruiting professional. It IS a two-way street, and the best matches ensure both client and candidate get a long-term win-win.

A happy client in the long run is one who gets a happy employee who is paid fairly and therefore won’t be susceptible to poaching, particularly in the current candidate’s market.

But there is a fine line between working towards that win-win and engaging in questionable or outright unethical behavior, such as:

  • Promoting inflated salaries to pump up fees.
  • Specifically seeking to create a bidding war that will drive up the salary and the fee.
  • Recruiting placed candidates away from clients to place them multiple times at higher salaries and earn multiple fees from said candidate.
  • Recycling the same so-so or outright poor candidates over and over again rather than doing the work to generate the best fits.

These are just to name a few. And by the way, there is a big difference between these behaviors and ethically advising a client that a higher salary is required and/or obtaining more than one interview for a candidate (first right of refusal comes only with engaged or retained search) – namely, the INTENT behind the actions.

Ultimately, the paying client – collectively the hiring manager, talent acquisition team, and company – pay the price for these practices in the form of:

  • Higher than necessary staffing costs.
  • Higher employee turnover and associated direct and opportunity costs.
  • Bad hires resulting from a narrow selection of candidates.
  • Reduced team and company productivity and/or growth.
  • Mental stress, career damage, and loss of personal/family time due to a short-staffed (or badly staffed) team and increased manager workload.

Hiring managers are always hearing from recruiters. There are choices.

So how does one distinguish the gun slingers from the good guys/gals?

Does the recruiter talk too much about themselves, or does he/she ask insightful questions, and then SHUT UP and listen?

When they do talk, listen carefully to how a recruiter speaks about his or her practice. What stories do they share?

Are they stories about how people they’ve placed have been with their clients for several years, earning promotions, and adding progressive value?

Are they stories about the depth of their process and how this has uncovered candidates not otherwise accessible through surface level recruiting?

Or are they stories about their firm’s collective 110 years of experience, their thousands of database records (because they are only that – records are not relationships, and quickly become stale), the quantity of placements made (what about quality?), or the vast quantity of clients they serve (from whom they SHOULDN’T be recruiting, so who are their sources?)?

In December 2020 I published an article titled “10 Questions to Ask Before Signing with a Search Firm.” It’s worth a review if you’re looking for a partner and having trouble distinguishing the best from the masses. I’ll share the link in the comments!