April 12, 2023

What Happens When You Cut Out The Recruiter?


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No one likes it when someone goes behind their back. Every agency recruiter has a horror story about a time they missed out on a placement after not getting ‘credit’ for an intro they made.

But how does this play out in the real world?

Are job seekers better or worse off? Are companies more or less likely to hire the candidate?

Jeff Smith and James Hornick break down the financial, ethical, and relationship ramifications in The 10 Minute Talent Rant, Episode 63 “What Happens When You Cut Out The Recruiter?”

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.

This week’s topic, episode 63 “What happens when you cut out the recruiter?” You’re nailing that intro by the way. I mean- it really comes, it really comes. Just, it really flows. After 63 takes, I finally got it down. That’s right. All right, story time. I actually told this story this week on LinkedIn. Going way back in the day.

Now when I say way back, I’m talking like my first year, maybe two years in recruiting. So I have to own something didn’t go right and maybe it was my fault, anyways. In those early days, working with a candidate, went on an interview, knocked it out of the park, had all the skills, hiring exec comes in for the final interview, just kind of making conversation, you know what I mean?

Just like, “How’d you find us?” One of those kind of questions, you know. Not like an inquisitive question, but just little, “Hey, how’d you know?” That kind of thing. And the candidate said, “Oh, I applied to an ad you guys had” Bullshit- anyways. Right. So the executive is going through his notes, continuing with the interview and then sees the writeup that we sent and kind of the summary notes.

Like wait, I’m confused. You didn’t come from Hirewell? You didn’t come from James and those guys? And like literally said your name out loud. Yeah, literally said it like doubles down like who? No, I don’t know who that is. Maybe sick of panic. Dude doubles down on that. I don’t know, Jeff. So what do you think happened next?

I mean, I know the answer, but it was no offer. I mean look, why, in the client’s shoes would any, why would you hire anyone who would lie about that? Yeah. So some takeaways. I first learned that perhaps my relationship with candidates in those early days weren’t as good as they should have been.

Right? So that’s on me, I own that. But I think what the candidate learned was, and this was like a thing at the time and I think still now, was people have this perception it’s like always better to go around the recruiter, you know? And there’s reasons for why this is, but it’s garbage.

It’s flat out just not true. When I even pressed the candidate afterwards, you know, you’ve kind of fed me a line of like, “No offense, everyone always says it’s better to go direct” of course you didn’t go direct on what you’re trying to accomplish. But they didn’t realize that we placed that exec. We placed the head of HR. We placed half the team.

Our referral actually carried some weight that would’ve helped you get the job, not the opposite. Anyway. There was a gasp, a literal business relationship there. Yeah. I thought one of our boys, Richard Arejo, had had a great synopsis of this. Always puts out good content by the way, on our stuff.

Really well said. There’s always going to be a portion of the population- I don’t wanna butcher this- that thinks they have to work an angle of some sort. They can’t just straight up do something honestly. For those people, there’s always got to be some sort of hustle and they have to know a guy and they aren’t satisfied unless they feel like they’ve pulled the wool over, that they’ve gotten a con out or that they’ve gotten the better of someone somehow.

Richard, well said, we see you friend. It’s absolute garbage. Yeah. And the crazy part is that we want to make this clear too. From here on out in the rant here, what Richard said actually kind of nails it both on the candidate side and the client side. There’s companies that fall into that, like always have to feel like they’re pulling the wool over someone’s eyes too.

Yeah. Not most, but there are some. And I think that’s what perpetuates us a lot of times too. The, the experience I had, it’s an extreme one. There’s not very many people who flat out boldface lie after they’ve been kind of called out on it and doubled down. But there are people that they hear about a job and they’ll try to apply behind your back or try to find some other way in, you know, and whatnot.

So key questions here, how should candidates think about going through a recruiter versus around a recruiter? How do and how should companies view direct hires versus recruiter submission or direct referrals, whether they’re employee referrals or people who apply versus recruiter referrals.

And why do people in that example, the way the executive reacted by not giving off, or why do they act maybe completely counter to how the guy who decided to lie his way, expected him to? Yup. Good setup. We’ll get to that, but I want to take a quick step back. So there are three very specific company personas to consider here.

So number one, those who rely on us, like Hirewell firms to find their talent once they’ve chosen us to manage their hiring process. Love them. Love those guys. Love them. Two, those who try to find any reason at all not to pay a fee. Even after willfully engaging with all of the agencies and saying 100% that they’re on board. Hate them. The worst.

Couldn’t agree with you more, James. And then there’s number three, those who legitimately just have it sorted and got it on their own. God damn it, I respect them. Good. I know. I don’t know how you do it. Like we need to know your sauce. We know we’re not cheap. We really do. Companies know it,

candidates know it. I mean, this is information that’s out there. The entire world is privy to what our fee structures are, more or less. But some companies value these partnerships as a strategic function to the hiring, while others don’t, and take it right back down to the transaction.

So there’s a lot of play, but I think you’re going to take the candidate part first, right? Yeah. So let’s talk about both the candidate side and the company side. Kinda what we were talking about before. There are candidates who have been told that recruiters suck and some recruiters do suck. Yeah.

They’re not wrong. Some can- yeah. Some candidates have had terrible experiences, so they think they still have a better shot trying to get the job by cutting out the recruiter anyway they can. Get it. Some candidates don’t understand that if you’ve gone through a recruiter on the other hand, who’s like a true partner managing the search process the way that Jeff and his team do, we’re the ones overseeing the entire hiring process.

We’re acting as your application and vetting process. When we hand your resume to the hiring manager, you’ve made it past step one and two already. That carries a lot of weight. When we’re actually kind of integrated with what companies are actually doing from a hiring standpoint. And the big takeaway here is as a candidate, you don’t actually know which is which, unless you just kind of say, “Okay, I’m going behave the same way with all scenarios.”

Right? Yeah. And the thing is, we will admit though too, I mean there is a bit of a pecking hoard. I’ll put this in- when you’re talking about a “functional company” like in air quotes here, internal referrals, it’s probably your best in to get anywhere. But after that, it’s definitely recruiter relationships and then it’s everyone else.

I mean, it’s every other way that you can kind of get endorsed someplace, you know? So I get it. If you happen to know somebody in the company, absolutely. I would too. But past that, when you’re dealing with most functional organizations who have some sense of ethics going through recruiters better than going in alone. Including direct apply.

Yeah. How many posts do we see “I hate direct apply. There’s a thousand people that have applied” and then. Yeah. Direct reply must be better than going through a recruiter. It’s bizarre. Yeah. Okay, so conversely on the company side, so two things. Big companies have done this for decades.

It’s all part of the game. They’ve got this kind of well oiled machine. We’ve talked about this ad nauseam. It’s the small entrepreneurial type companies who, we start hearing things like lean and penny pinching and stuff like that. Who may- I’m not saying all, but may entice a candidate to work around a recruiter.

It unfortunately does happen. And honestly we’ve seen more often than not, candidates back out of that process because they don’t want the drama. They see the sideshow. It messes everything up on both ends. It’s just not worth the trouble. Secondly, internal TA teams, they want candidates to apply concurrently or even before, so that it’s logged in the system.

And there are, there can be cases where people start to not understand whether it’s the agency recruiter or the internal recruiter reaching out to, them being the candidate, mind you. Mm-hmm. And if there is a discrepancy there, I’m telling, the external recruiter loses in all scenarios, unfairly

so. If I’ve placed a candidate and they have referrals that go into that company, does the recruiter have the right to cultivating that relationship? It’s an open question. I don’t have an answer to it, but some would say yes and others would say hell no. Philosophically, companies want the best. But in practice,

sometimes not so much. No. All things the same, they’ll go internal if they have two candidates they’re kind of down to, and one might be kind of one who is kind of internal hire. So not paying a fee. But in our experience, almost no one will choose the inferior candidate over not paying.

Yep. Full stop. I never- I’d never see a hiring manager saying, “Yeah, I’m going with this candidate who I’ve graded as not as good because there’s on fee attached” never happens. Exactly. That’s the best point to be made. So takeaways. Look, there’s just some companies as we’ve said at length, who value recruiting partners’ work.

And the referrals get you a leg up. Full stop. We are vouching for you and our partner feels like we know exactly the profile that we’re supposed to be going to market for. They value our relationship. There’s also companies that are going to try and find a way to nickel and dime everything. It’s the way of the world.

We get that. My question is, do you want to even work for company number two? Nope. I wouldn’t. All the other posts I see on LinkedIn about what a hell hold environment like they’re working in and how toxic it is. Guess what kind of company that is. Guess how those companies view their recruiter relationships. For sure.

Anyways. The last thing I’ll say is slightly off topic, but just since we talk about so much about job seekers. Right now it’s a tough market. Use any and all means you can. What we’re not saying is you should only go through recruiter. I want to make that really clear. No. You should use job boards,

you should do one-on-one networking, you should use recruiters, you should join different communities, network that way. Anything at all. There’s no right or wrong way to job search. There are a lot of hucksters online who love selling courses about how they have the secret sauce and their best way of doing it.

And they’ll tell you, whatever you’re doing now is wrong. Don’t listen to them. It’s all nonsense. I just- it drives me crazy and people like try to take advantage of other people just to make a buck. So that’s all I got. I love it. Yeah. We’re short on clock. That’s a wrap this week. Thanks for tuning in the 10 Minute Talent Rant, part of the Talent Insights series

which is always available for replay on town taleninsights.hirewell.com, as well as YouTube, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify and Amazon. Jeff, thanks again as always! Everyone out there, we will see you soon.

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