January 5, 2022

Retainers Get Results


Episode Highlights

Why Retained Recruiting Is Better Than Contingent


The Higher Expectations Of Retained Recruiting


Why Doesn't Every Recruiter Use a Retained Model?


What You Gain Retaining A Recruiting Partner


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The definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. (That’s not really the definition, but for this promo I’ll allow it.)

I’m reminded of this every time I speak with someone who isn’t having any luck with contingent recruiting firms, but continues to use them. (We covered this at length in our “Contingent Search is Stupid” rant).

But why is retaining a recruiting partner so much better? What are you getting that you wouldn’t otherwise? And how will it help you hire?

Jeff Smith and James Hornick are happy to answer in the next The 10 Minute Talent Rant, “Retainers Get Results”

Episode Transcript

The 10 minute talent rant is live. I’m James Hornick joined by Jeff Smith and we are on the clock. The 10 minute talent rant is our ongoing series where we break down things that are broken in the talent acquisition and hiring space, maybe even pitch a solution or two. Before we dig in, all of our content can be found on talentinsights.hirewell.com.

Now for the fun stuff, this week’s topic: retainers get results. Why do they? You ready for this one? All right. Yeah. So stop me if you’ve heard this one before, these are my quotation fingers because I’m reading- I’ve heard this more times than I can count. “You know, I’ve been working with a few contingent firms, not seeing any results. Why should I pay a retainer?”

Oh, sweetie. So cute. It is. You’re thinking about this completely backwards. Totally. I mean, I get it. Services are services. You’ll get a bad taste in your mouth. Like I know, you bought the Kleenex with two ear loops to protect you from the Rona and get deals.net,

really rolling the dice there. I mean, seriously, like you got piss poor service because you went with a firm that basically takes literally anything. They’ll take any rec that they can, and you’re upset about that. This perpetuates the very real kind of anti recruiter narrative that exists on the market.

So let’s talk about- let’s first talk about contingent wide stop. We did a whole, we did a whole series on this before, but just take a step back. Think of the business model involved here. The amount of double work when you’re asking multiple recruiters, multiple firms to work on the exact same thing at the exact same time using the same tool,

a lot of times talking to the same people, just like the massive, like industry-wide inefficiencies there. And here’s the thing that you might be missing. They all know you’re asking them to do that. So they all adjust. Like they all adjust by not working on your shit anymore is what happens. That’s why you don’t see any candidates, anyways.

Again, there is no other industry besides ambulance chasing lawyers that adopt this model. That’s right. It’s your topic, do as you are. I mean, you love to dunk on it and like, we keep talking about it because when it goes bad, it goes bad. Like contingent recruiters have no motivation to chase the dog.

Every contingent firm and we’re talking, I want to set strictly contingent where they just do, you know, pay to play. Like they spend max an hour trying to find one to three decent people for your rec. Once those people are found, every other recruiter tunes out. And what is, what essentially happens is you’ve actually bought like the one recruiter, just who by happenstance happened to be sitting at their desks

the second the request came in and so they went to LinkedIn and found the best keyword search, the best keyword profile match that was out there. Bada Bing, bada boom. Search over for 10 contingent recruiters. Your secondly and worse, your preferred candidate market gets absolutely smoked by 10 recruiters, some of which are maybe decent, some of which are probably outright awful and they tuned completely out. This is why like the entire process of LinkedIn and it’s all spam at this point. There may be good candidates out there these people are contacting, but when those good candidates get hit up by 10 people about the same rec, they don’t take it seriously

and you’re not actually getting them in your pipeline, anyways. No, they think it’s a joke. So we’re talking about retained, why it’s better. I have to quote my good buddy, Mr. Sullivan because I think he put this in the best way possible. The difference between retained and contingent is, do you want me to maybe fill it or do you want me to definitely fill it?

And that’s really what it comes down to. So what really constitutes retained, and it’s not just the act of charging you, charging retainer that gets results. It’s really kind of the implied services that really make all the difference, right? So details about like, we want to adopt our client’s culture, their selling points, their branding.

We want to take a really granular understanding, create ideal candidate profiles, personas those types of things, painstaking detail to vet, screen, you know, sell them on why they should actually join you. I mean, the amount of work it just takes to be successful is like the amount of work that goes into it to doing recruiting well

is not something a rational person would do without a commitment. It’s all work that can be done, but like it’s a lot of time and effort goes into it, which is why no one who works contingent does it well. Right. I mean, and the other thing too is you have to realize that sometimes you, and I and really, anybody hiring is making mistake and doing something wrong and making a search more difficult.

When we hire, we’ve done that, I mean, everyone has, and I think as a hiring manager you commit that to yourself and whatever, but retained recruiters have a motivation to help find a solution to the problem and help you realize, okay, maybe your interview process needs a tweak. Maybe you’re not selling things correctly.

Contingent recruiters just move on to the next search. If you’re doing something stupid and they don’t feel like they can make an immediate impact quickly with no effort, they got other clients. They got other things to do. Not only is there no incentive, but there’s literally no time to do so. Yeah. Either way.

So like, let’s talk a little bit about like what you’re evaluating, like what should you think about when you’re looking at retained firms? What should you expect? Like first we, and any of our competitors that are worth any grains of salt, we don’t take any old engagement. We can by choosy

because we’re confident in our domain. We’re willing to walk away from business that could be construed as having to test it in the contingent model, right. We only take stuff that we know we can fill and frankly- which is the key thing – and we know that you employer can fill also a really like nuanced, but important part.

The last thing we want to do once we retain something is struggle with a search. Like it’s literally the worst. So we don’t want to take something that we shouldn’t have. Like the other side of this is contingent recruiters do this all the time and it’s why we’re talking about this. Yeah, they take on every single thing they can possibly find, you know?

So they have zero skin in the game so they can walk away from it anytime and just write you off. There’s no expectation they have to actually perform. They’re not on the hook, their reputation in their mind isn’t on the stake because you know, you didn’t pay them anything upfront. So they’re just, they’re praying for a quick hit result

you know? It’s just kind of human nature. So other questions, so things that come up, like why doesn’t every firm do this? Well, one, the good ones are starting to. Yeah. There’s definitely a switch happening in the industry where anybody good is not doing anything without some sort of commitment. Two, the dumb ones

can’t figure it out. There’s companies that just, they just don’t understand how to wrap their heads around even going about this process. And three, the really bad ones they know they can’t deliver. Right. They just know they straight up don’t have the recruiters and the horsepower that can make any of this work, anyways.

Yeah. A few more takeaways like just expectations. For us, you’re a bigger fish in a smaller pond when you put some skin in the game, like case closed. You have our retention, you’re going to get better results by and large, you’re going to work with better recruiters. They value their time and they’re attracted to this model.

It’s why we can hire the best of the best recruiters internally to Hirewell when others can’t and I think like you’re going to be told when you’re making mistakes and you’re going to be told when we find solutions. We’re not going to cut and run. We’re going to actually consult with you and push you to do this better

and to do it more efficiently. More takeaways, say it loud: you are not going to miss out on any great candidates by not hiring 10 crappy contingent firms to scour the market. The very best people are going to hit your desk. You’re not going to miss out on anyone. Secondly, those candidates are going to have a better experience working with you because they work with someone who is committed and all in on really understanding your brand and what you’re doing, as opposed to people who are just kind of spamming the market.

Yep. Like the tie that minds, the collateral damage of bad contingent work can’t be understated. Like if you care even a little bit about candidate experience, like all of these candidates who have miserable experiences with these recruiters are going to tie it to you, the employer. Do you care about an employer brand?

Do you care about how your brand is being presented in the market? I do. We take it very seriously that we want to say the exact same things that you will to candidates in the market. That way that’s a very consistent message. Someone who is not working with you on a commitment and just working strictly on volume is not going to get that

well. It’s not going to come across great. Your entire branding messaging is going to get messed up. Now, if you think all this is bullshit, find a software development shop that will make you a mobile app for free. And maybe you pay them later or a plumber or anybody really- or literally anybody- literally any profession.

Anyways, we are short on- I was going to say, we might hit 10 minutes here. Eh, we’re going to go over. We’re short on clock. That’s a wrap for this week. Thanks everyone for tuning into the 10 minute talent rant, part of the talent insights series, which is always available for replay on talentinsights.hirewell.com as well as YouTube, Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify and Amazon.

Jeff, thanks again as always. Everyone out there, see you soon.

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