Not having worked in the Fit-Out sector man and boy it gives me a bit of perspective. One of the things I noticed very early when we set up Formation was that firms would say to me that they couldn’t rely on their resource suppliers. This struck me as a bit odd.

It looked like firms would urgently need help, short-term or permanent hires and the usual way of hiring just wouldn’t cut it.

When analysing it became clear that both parties were working against each other. The recruiters would throw a lot of poorly qualified candidates at fit-out firms and the firms wouldn’t have a lot of motivation to respond to the recruiters to provide feedback. It was a waste of time for all three parties, the recruiters, the candidates and the firms themselves.

Taking it back a level, I wanted to understand why this experience even existed. From the fit-out firms the following was true – the firms would not invest the time with the recruiters to brief them on what ‘good’ looked like and then start dates would move around because the end-client would move things around. Lastly, a lot of the projects can be relatively short-term (4-12 weeks) which makes the margin for the recruiter comparatively slim and this leads to a race to the bottom. Firms will look to utilise a number of recruiters on a single hire which again leads to a first past the post which drives down quality.

Firms don’t trust Recruiters and the Recruiters have to employ a “pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap” strategy.

So how can you break this cycle?

Here’s my thoughts…

Let’s be friends: Firstly, firms need to decide who they want to work with and establish a proper recruitment process and establish a relationship. Have a preferred supplier relationship, you don’t want to deal with hundreds of recruiters. That’s what recruiters want as well. If the chances of making the hire is good, then recruiters will put in more effort, higher quality and a better process to deliver the right people.

Make things crystal clear: Having a simple job spec or just a note of “must-have” not “nice to haves” will win the day. I mentioned in a previous blog how one firm said to me and I quote “You know what I want David, a Project Manager, you know a Project Manager, old-school Project Manager, pure and simple” This is not a job briefing, did they fill their job, did we take it on… I think you know the answer…

It’s good to talk: We spend a lot of time with our customers, I have been in London, Newcastle, Leeds and  Glasgow during the last week or so. Meet your recruiters and recruiters meet your clients. I am astounded that even today candidates are still not met before submission to firms. What are firms paying for? Not much. Conversely, when things slips firms are reticent to tell the recruiters, so the recruiters carry on with the same start dates or detail when the world may have changed.

Put them on the back-burner: I have learned that there is no back-burner, candidates hate it when they know they are not being progressed but are told they are in the process. Companies will often continue to look for the right candidate and put ‘possibles’ on the back-burner. I have never, ever seen a candidate move from the back-burner to an offer. Never. So be decisive and stop creating admin for yourselves.

Also connected to this are start dates for short-term resource. I have never seen a sector where things move so wildly. More thought here because candidates will turn themselves inside and out to get their for the agreed Monday only to find it moves back or goes to “review”. It’s the worst kind of PR.

Keep your recruiters up to speed, lots of updates during the recruitment process. I never understand why all parties aren’t more transparent, if you have concerns, worries and nervousness about the process, tell people. It leads to much, much better outcomes.

Lastly, invest as much time in the offer and notice period process. Firms seem to switch off once the offer has gone out. I truly believe this is where recruiters earn their money. You should never make an offer without knowing it will be accepted. I have done a lot of training on this topic because it is the most emotive part of the recruitment process and the one that consistently is got wrong. I am happy to talk to you if you want to know what the ‘secret sauce’ is to reduce buy-back, counter-offers and straight declines

I could probably write much more but I think these are the most important and will make a difference. Hope it helps !!

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