Many internal recruitment and HR teams have a Preferred Supplier List of recruitment agencies which they go to for external candidates when direct recruitment methods fail. There may be long-standing relationships between these companies and agreements in place, meaning the PSL is resistant to change out of convenience if not a necessity.
How many times in your career (and personal life) have you found yourself frustrated after being told by another company that a blockade in a process is happening because “it’s just our policy”? How many times have you internally (and probably externally) dissected the logic of this immovable policy which seems to hinder not only the customer or business partner, but the business whose policy it is in the first place?
You may have seen cartoons floating around LinkedIn which illustrate missed opportunities which were potentially game-changers for individuals who were “too busy” going about their tasks to listen to a sales person. There’s the cave men dragging a rock up a hill who were “too busy” to ignore the sales man with the wheel, and the medieval battalion leader who was “too busy” fighting a war to hear out the man selling machine guns. A tired cliché, perhaps, but nonetheless thought provoking – how many recruiters have you shot down mid-pitch who could potentially have streamlined your process, revolutionised your hiring or delivered to your expectations?
On the flipside, many hiring teams are frustrated with being restricted to working with a PSL who simply don’t deliver. There can be a number of reasons for this, whether it’s a lack of communication with your suppliers, poor choice of companies, or not being a “preferred client” to your “preferred suppliers” (yes, they may have others!). Here are some simple tips you can put in place today to ensure you’re getting the most out of your PSL.
Think about why you use a PSL. Why is it so important? What do you want to get out of your PSL? Is the PSL meeting these objectives? Many companies have a PSL for the simple reason that it’s always been there, rather than because it’s the most effective sourcing method for them.
Measure your suppliers’ value. This should include key KPIs such as CV submission to Interview ratios, CV submission to placement ratios, number of openings sourced versus placements, and whatever other objectives are important to you. Review these KPIs regularly and compare to one another as well as external options.
Think about why each supplier is on the list. You probably have long-standing relationships with suppliers which are hard to reproduce – they already know your process, you’ve developed a way of working together and there are agreements in place. Whilst taking on a new supplier might create some extra paper work in the short-term, it could pay off big time in terms of long-term results.
Define the situations in which you are willing to go outside of your PSL. Whilst your PSL might be effective in sourcing the majority of your positions, are there some positions which they can’t cater for? It’s worth considering specialist recruiters outside of your PSL for specialist hires with niche skill sets, or in tricky locations, or for high level hires.
Take a punt! Next time a recruitment company outside of your PSL offer their services, agree to see CVs from them. Agree that if the candidates are worth interviewing, you will agree terms of business for a working relationship. You’ve nothing to lose by giving another agency the chance to prove their worth. If you’re really against a new long term agreement, consider each candidate on a case-by-case basis.
Define your process. Are you working to the same process with all your suppliers? Is this the best way of working for you? Is it an effective collaborative model? Ask your suppliers how they work with other clients and your and peers how they work with their recruitment suppliers. You might be missing a trick.
Communicate with your suppliers. If the agencies on your PSL aren’t receiving actionable and informative feedback from you, or find your process difficult to work with, they might not be giving you their best work. Treat them like a business partner – if you’re not getting what you want out of a supplier, tell them. Ask them if they feel the process could be improved. If they have no suggestions or you see no improvement, then you have good reason to remove them from the list!
At the end of the day, a PSL should improve your recruitment process, not obstruct it. Without reviewing your own process as well as your suppliers, you won’t have a clear idea of whether or not your maximising your opportunities to reach the best talent in your market and subsequently meet your business goals. An excellent talent attraction strategy is essential to this and for some companies, a rigid PSL is the most effective method. For others, the PSL might be standing in the way of you and your next game-changer.
From ConSol Partners