You apply for a role or several that look similar and post your CV on a job board.
The calls are coming in thick and fast. Agencies are practically stalking you to talk about a particular opportunity.
You discuss very brief details (sometimes not even given the specific organisation name) you agree you are potentially interested, you may or may not be sent a job spec and then nothing…
A few minutes/days/weeks later someone else contacts you regarding the same or spookily similar position. They know much more. They tell you about the Industry, business, department and culture. They talk about the reason behind the recruit. They have a full in depth spec with additional information on key drivers. They ask you very specific questions about your experience and motivations and drill down to get the most amount of information. They may have met you previously or want to meet up face to face to discuss further.
They ask you if you have been submitted to ‘y’ company for ‘x’ role. You’re not entirely sure. The first agent doesn’t answer your calls and if you do speak sounds vague and non-committal of the current situation.
You wish to be represented by the consultant of your choice. It’s not that easy.
Perhaps Consultants get upset, territorial or sound somewhat threatening that your application maybe in jeopardy. Maybe you receive a barrage of calls trying to secure your representation and it feels as though war is breaking out and you’re caught in the crossfire.
Then again perhaps nothing happens. You never manage to get hold of the first person who contacted you and subsequent recruiters cannot help as their hands are ‘tied’.
What’s going on?
Companies now employ many methods to attract talent. Direct sourcing, an established PSL (preferred supplier listing) have an in-house, master vendor, outsourced partner or open season.
Regardless of the set up, many seem to uphold a ‘first past the post’ approach to receiving CVs. This means whoever sent your details first (usually but not always excluding unsolicited details) represents the candidate regardless.
Of course this is not true for all; many of my clients stipulate certain processes and procedures are adhered to, but not all. The first received rule is the easiest to uphold and quantify and therefore commonplace.
Now this post could go into how this rule effects the quality of applications, service levels received and recruitment experience, therefore potentially damaging to the employer’s brand, but what do you care? You just want your best foot forward with the strongest application you can make.
So what can you do?
Before you utter the words “Put me forward.” :
Understand Your Rights ( The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003) In order to represent you an agency must first gain your approval.
Realise the power of releasing your CV.
Question the Recruiter to gain an understanding of their client relationship.
Get the full job specification. Sometimes not available, however, most ‘briefed’ consultants under instruction will have in-depth details. Be aware of information that just seems cut and pasted from an online adverts,again check the status of the relationship is genuine.
Check the time scales the Recruiter is working to, be sensitive to the time pressure they may be under and work with them to hit deadlines.
Build stronger long term relationships with Recruiters in your field for your career not just particular posts.
Stay in contact and track your application. Email for an audit trail and ask for the exact time and date your information was submitted. Asking for the ‘detail’ can improve your consultant’s diligence and keep them on their toes.
Its easy to blame the middle man when the application process breaks down. However, if still in the dark I would inform the agency that you intend to contact the client directly to ensure they are in receipt of your CV for the discussed post and then either utilise your network, send an email or simply telephone to check that is the case.
Have you experienced this? How did it effect you? What action would you advise? Do you think there needs to be tougher regulations and proof of instruction something to be considered? Are you a direct client or in-house recruiter what would you suggest?
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Sarah Cooper has over 14 years Recruitment experience gained in both an internal and agency environment. As one of the founding Directors of McGinnis Loy Ltd, specialist Finance and HR Recruiters, she is still actively recruiting in the marketplace today. Follow her tweets @approachmarket