Are you feeding the Mogwai?

I was in a meeting on Friday with a potential client who was quite open at her dislike of agencies.  When I say dislike, what I actually mean is she hates them. 

And, as a recruiter, I get it.

I hear it a lot. 

“Recruiters are money-grabbing sharks!” 

“You lot are parasites!” 

“You don’t give a damn- you just throw enough sh*t at the wall and see what sticks!”

And it is often hard to argue against it. 

Obviously, I like to think our business is different and I think our clients and candidates alike would attest to that, but I don’t want to turn this into a “look at how different we are” blog.

What I want to ask is…

Is it your fault?  Are you feeding the Mogwai?

If you are unaware, a Mogwai is the cute pet from the film “Gremlins”.  The problem with a mogwai is that when it is exposed to bright light, water or fed after midnight, it then spawns other creatures who transform into small, destructive, evil monsters called Gremlins.

There are a multitude of complaints against agency recruiters, but the most common ones include:

“They all bombard me with so many calls!”

“They send me thousands of unsolicited e-mails with CVs attached, telling me how “fantastic” their candidates are!”

The question that often doesn’t get asked is,

“Why do they do that”?

There are two common approaches in recruitment- Transactional recruitment and Relationship recruitment (I’ll cover more about what this means in another blog). 

Essentially, transactional recruitment is low engagement, low skill and often without commitment to the wider aims of the client.  Relationship recruitment focusses on the desired outcomes of the business, looking at matching the soft skills as well as the JD requirements and is aimed at a long-standing mutually beneficial supplier-customer relationship.

Transactional recruitment follows a very simple strategy- contact enough people (through cold calls, mailshots, meetings etc), and you will get the desired outcome.  You will often hear talk of a sales funnel, or even a sausage machine.  They look at standard market or company ratios (Calls to jobs in, CVs sent to interviews, interviews to placements etc), and track that back to calculate their basic input KPIs.  Unfortunately, as they don’t aim to improve those ratios through upskilling their consultants, or improving market or client knowledge, this often ends up with massive “input targets” (I have heard of 200 calls/week, 10 meetings /week amongst others).  With those kind of targets in mind, is there any thought as to who or why they call people?  Have a think about the last few calls you received from recruiters?  How useful to YOU were they? 

So why is this your fault?

Well, unfortunately their stats stack up.  If they meet those KPIs, they are likely to catch someone at the right time, and “for ease” will reply to the unsolicited email,  or speak to them about a requirement.  And then they’ve got you and you end up in that painful, difficult process, sometimes without a positive outcome.  You are justifying their approach and are therefore perpetuating this outdated, predatory approach to a key function in your business.

So, my advice is….before you feed the mogwai, think….”Is it after midnight?  Do I want a gremlin running around my organization?”

If the answer is no, you may want to think twice about responding. 


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I manage a small Housing recruitment business (www.greenacre-recruitment) covering the Midlands and South West Regions. Outside of that, I'm a dad of 2, a keen rugby supporter (knees don't allow me to play anymore) and cyclist (the knees let me do that!)

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