SI Review: August 2012

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Technology Overload

Don’t let software govern the rules of engagement

By Sanjay Shaw

As a recruiter, there is no better feeling than knowing you have the ideal candidate to meet the urgent requirement that just came across your desk. You have successfully placed this person on numerous job assignments. You did not have to scour a job board or your LinkedIn connections, nor did your “résumé-mining overseas back office” have to shortlist him for you, along with other completely unqualified candidates. You found this candidate and all you have to do is get the résumé across to the manager. But, this is where the problem starts: the arduous process is overwhelming.

Tech Hurdles

If you’re lucky, the client’s program allows you to reach out directly to the manager and discuss your candidate’s sole question. Otherwise, get ready for a scheduled conference call with 10 other staffing agencies, just so you can clarify that one question before you submit the résumé, because, let’s face it, the last thing you want to do is make a simple mistake and have this perfect submittal held against you and your company’s performance metrics.

After you have gone through all of the calls and have checked all of the rates to make sure that you are in line with the rate card, and hopefully you aren’t in a program that requires you to meet the dreaded fixed markup (See “Expert’s Corner,” Staffing Industry Review, February 2012), you must make sure your candidate is not on the client’s global do not reuse/return lists. Then you muster all of your remaining excitement to navigate through five tabs on the client’s vendor management system to enter in the candidate’s information.

After all of this, and if you are fortunate enough to have your candidate selected, you need to make sure that you understand the client’s time entry system and the billing cycle. Hopefully you have prior knowledge of this technology and there is an automated feed from its time tracking tool into your internal system. If not, you will need to have your contractor re-enter the time or have someone on your team enter it.

Pushing Back

It shouldn’t take 30 minutes to submit one candidate when you have the perfect résumé. It is as if we aren’t hiring recruiters anymore, but folks who know how to run the gauntlet of not just one but multiple VMS systems and, in some cases, the same tool with different configurations for different clients. Take a step back and think about the total amount of time that our recruiters spend simply submitting their candidates to multiple clients using a variety of VMS tools.

The basic premise of this technology was to streamline our recruiting efforts and make the client’s programs more manageable and efficient. Why now, when this technology gets in the way, do we not question it but instead accept it as a cost of doing business? When did it become more important to overload our clients with reports, data and views they do not use, want, need or even like, rather than consult them in a better, more efficient way? We have reached a point where we are now allowing the process to get in our own way and, by extension, in the way of our clients.

The current marketplace is being driven by competing companies that are currently engaged in an arms race for the latest, greatest, coolest feature before considering whether those features may or may not even be needed. That is not to say that this should not be constantly evolving, but there is a significant differentiation between innovation and escalation. Innovation is the act of taking our collective industry expertise and accepted best practices and applying them to meet the specific or anticipated needs of our client. Escalation involves taking the latest technology and using it to create a dashboard, tool or widget that is more aesthetic than necessary and adds very little — if any — value to the program, all in order to beat or match competition. When did our recruiting world get so complicated?

Unfortunately the staffing industry itself is to blame. We have lost control of our own industry and allowed other staffing agencies and technology companies to set standards on how we do business. By no means am I saying that there should not be rules to programs, but there should be rules of engagement that make sense. However, before we can make these changes to the marketplace, we need to make sure that we are all doing the right thing. We need to let the staffing agencies — the ones that are manipulating the system, making us look like used car salesmen — know that we are not going to accept this anymore. If we do not stop this way of doing business, the rules in these programs will become even more stringent, making it rare to find companies willing to continue to do the right thing.

Quality Service

We need to make sure that we are screening the candidates and not letting the managers do our job for us, otherwise the résumé submittal metric rate will not go away. We need to make sure that the résumés we submit are accurate and not “inflated,” otherwise there will always be a middle man doing that for us. We need to make sure that we are being efficient when we communicate with the managers and not just wasting their time, otherwise the supplier conference call for questions will exist forever. We need to make sure that we are competitive in our pricing, otherwise the fixed markup programs are here to stay. We need to make sure that we are doing our job so someone else doesn’t have to do it for us.

We have forced our clients to adopt these programs, and the companies that support them are doing the best they can, but let’s start taking things back a little. Let’s consult with our clients on the benefits that these programs were supposed to bring — not focus on all of the road blocks that are being thrown up. Let’s utilize social networking and all of its capabilities to find the best candidates for our clients. Let’s submit the top two to three candidates and not the first seven that matched the job description. Let’s work with our technology partners and start collaborating with them to put some consistencies in place between the various tools and programs. Let’s then work with them on setting guidelines and standards that will make life easier for all of us in the long run. Let’s work with our technology partners and enhance the tools in a way that benefits the industry and eliminates the new cold war. Let’s become strategic partners with our clients again. Let’s take back charge of our industry, and let’s get back to the basics.

Sanjay Shah is president of StaffingLogic, which specializes in VMS/MSP services. He can be reached at sshah@staffinglogic.com or 610-617-1536.

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