Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Recruitment firms provide sub-par services.

As part of my job, I meet a lot of HR Heads and talent acquisition managers. Most of them whine about their empanelled recruitment vendors. Yet I can see that most companies rely quite heavily on these placement agencies or recruitment firms to find their talent. It seems to me that companies can't live without them nor live with them.

The feedback from companies is obviously bad because the results clearly show that success rates for each of the vendors is actually abysmally low. However, is the blame squarely on the shoulders of the recruitment firms? I think not. I will explain below what happens day in and day out between companies and their empanelled recruitment firms and you will see that the whole process is completely out of whack. It is a miracle that a few get placed at all out of all this wasted effort.

Here is how it goes:

A large company empanels a few hundred ( between 100 to as high as 500) recruitment firms to help them find candidates. Whenever they have an opening, they inform all the recruitment firms. The recruitment firms immediately login to their respective naukri/monster/timesjobs accounts and search for candidates. As everybody knows any search criteria on these sites results in thousands of matched candidate, thanks to keyword padding employed by most candidate. Obviously no recruiter has the time to go through 100s of resume, leave alone the thousands that are returned. So they look for the candidates who have updated their profile in the last day or so (under the assumption that anybody who has updated their profile recently must be actively looking for a job). This narrows down the results to around about 100 candidates, many of them professional job seekers who update their profile everyday to remain in the top 100 (this is the candidate's version of SEO). Then the recruiter starts calling all these candidates and lines them up for interview.

This exact process is happening simultaneously across all the hundreds of empanelled recruitment firms! Which means that a few hundred recruitment firms are all calling pretty much the same 100 candidates neglecting the remain tens of thousands of relevant candidates who did not feature in the "recently updated" 100 list.

It has been know for a single candidate to fend over a 100 calls from different recruitment agencies about the same job! The candidate says yes to everyone or refuses to answer his phone or feels that there is too much competition for that job or thinks he is in great demand and starts to put up his price.

Each recruitment firm then downloads all these 100-odd resumes and sends them off to the company HR. This is done as soon as possible because if a candidate gets selected, only the recruitment firm that first mailed the resume gets paid. So there is a clear race condition here and many of the empanelled firms would have sent the resume even before calling and verifying with the candidate if he/she is interested at all in the position.

The company which advertised the opening now has 100s of copies of pretty much the same 100-odd resumes, which of course they have to de-duplicate (de-multiplicate actually, if there is such a word) and then find any good ones out of this.

Once you realize that these are not even the top 100 candidates in terms of fitness for purpose (but just the top 100 that had updated their profiles recently), it does not take a rocket scientist to realize that the number candidates chosen will eventually be abysmally low.

And yet, this has been happening for years now and is happening right now all over India. Go figure!