International Preferred Supplier Agreements are a lazy solution

Organisations that choose to implement international preferred supplier agreements need to ensure they are not designing a lazy solution. Whether driven out of procurement or HR, a PSA needs to deliver on the core need of attracting the best to their organisation in the most timely and cost effective manner taking into account all their locations and specialist sector needs.

There is a trend amongst the multi-national IT Vendors to use  centralised and technology  led processes to select regional and sometimes global providers. These are often pursued by the multi-national recruitment generalists whom tick off the location box and tolerate a price driven agreement. Fair enough and good luck to both parties.

But, my point about it potentially being a lazy solution is that the process often ignores the reality that the best recruitment solution for any multi-national also needs the following elements:

  • Flexibility
  • Local relevance
  • Specialist Sector coverage
  • Local knowledge and relationships

I have observed these IT multi-nationals signing up PSA’s even when their multi-national partners have little or no coverage in local markets covered by the PSA. Now that is a lazy solution and worst of all they are letting down their own local teams by hindering their access to the best people and ignoring well established mutually beneficial relationships.

Convenient yes, leveraged yes but are they smart?

Not in my opinion.

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It’s not the idea, it’s the doing… surely?

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“Getting there first is not what it’s all about. What matters always is execution. Always,” Chris Fox – head of product at Facebook.

Reading this post http://techcrunch.com/2010/09/14/first-best/  got me thinking about where this industry of ours might be heading. Of course we would like to have the best new idea, strategy, innovation or iPhone killer app.

In fact, without naming brands,  I’ve seen a whole lot of good ideas already like:

  • Niche Job Boards
  • Video CV banks
  • Web-based referral programmes
  • “Self Help” web talentpools
  • All the so-called ‘social recruiting’ tools

These innovations are all based on good ideas but what separates the good from the great. I think Fox has probably nailed it with his comment that it’s not about a great new idea and therefore being first to market, as much as it’s about a great committment to the execution of the idea. That’s the hard bit I think. Having the tenacity, the financial backing, the skills, the time, the massive vision, the team, the balls and the passion to get it done.

So I watch with interest and respect for those who continue to build technology to support their idea and our industry whilst I await the rise of those that really do nail the execution bit… yep they will be loaded and I’ll be talking about relationships, trust and understanding the people bit! I guess I’ll use the Malcolm Gladwell excuse as explained in ‘The Outliers”… wrong birth date for me :-).

Please let me know if you do see a great example of the brilliant execution of an innovation in our industry as I’ll follow with great interest.

Employee Referrals…yes… yes… no!

ER (TV series)

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A client was explaining to me last week about their 87% direct vacancy fill rate. About half of this was from Employee Referrals. I applaud their efforts and that is a great statistic to evidence their effectiveness.

Yes, I agree that Employee Referrals are a fantastic source of quality candidates.

Yes, I suggest that all organisations should have an Employee Referral programme.

No, it’s not the panacea so make sure you know what you are looking for… let me explain!

The best corporate recruitment advisor that I have ever met is a guy called Alfonso Nunez. He is currently working with RPO Group in Australia. He has a great mind for deep analysis of the business impacts related to how an organisation recruits and he once told me a great story.

The upshot of this story… He was investigating why this particular national sales organisation was not performing to expectation. They had very low staff turnover, low cost per hire and almost no problem recruiting for growth based on a very successful Employee Referral scheme. I can’t do his work justice here but in essence he was able to identify and show that the very success they were claiming in the success of their ER scheme was the root cause of their performance dissatisfaction. He found that the ER scheme was creating a culture of like-minded, mediocre performers whilst the competitors were hiring a new breed of sales people, more relevant and full of diversity. The competitors were changing and winning! His company was full of mates and their mates but were losing!

Therefore the lesson I took out of Alfy’s work was a cautionary note about Employee Referrals. If you need culture change you may need to change the people! Watch out for the like attract like syndrome.

You should have an Employee Referral programme but its one source of hire to be used in balance, not the panacea!

Nice work Alfy!

Multi-listed contingent recruitment will stop!

Yes I believe it… I am pleased to say that a major international has just agreed to this very mantra and for all the right reasons.

Throughout a normal process of an RFP for a preferred supplier panel this company (whom I will soon name and promote with pride) has engaged with their suppliers on the basis of best practice. They accepted that the old habits of multi-listed contingent assignments no longer served anyones purpose. Sure they crunched the fees and terms a little for the volume promise but refreshingly they are going to provide assignments to their suppliers on an exclusive and sometimes retained basis.

In essence they want it done properly in the interests of the employer, the recruiter and the candidate. Mutual committment to the task underpinned with effective communication providing controlled, measurable outcomes. I love it. For over 23 years I’ve endured multi-nationals squeezing agencies on price, only to put them all in a rat race where the only measurement of success was speed. Yep speed eventually does kill.  This old style engagement model is dying as all parties become more enlightened to the impact of speed recruiting on all parties!

Much more to come on this topic but today is a great day!

Get the recruitment experience you want!

This may be over simplified but I believe two key words summarise how to have a rewarding experience using recruiters. These two words apply to both employers and candidates alike and also explain why the experience is sometimes more frustrating than rewarding for all parties.

1. Commitment 2. Communication

Some background… Recruiting is a ‘noisy’ profession. By this I mean it’s very high demand on consultants in terms of managing the expectations of both employers and candidates and it’s a high volume of activity task. Furthermore, all three parties (candidate, recruiter, employer) often engage in a process that is destined to frustrate due to its lack of appreciation of all the factors that need to be aligned for a successful outcome. GUILTY all parties!

For employers consider some key factors in a successful recruitment assignment and then ask yourself how often we mutually manage these effectively:

1. A well defined job and person specification

2. An agreed candidate sourcing plan

3. A signed off selection methodology

4. Pre and Post interview briefings

5. Controlled negotiation for offer and acceptance

6. On-boarding

For candidates consider these factors:

1. A clear brief on what you want

2. Immediate communication once anything changes

3. Total commitment to a decision once the brief is met (including ignoring any counter offer temptations)

4. Full communication on why you are seeking a change and your critera for acceptance

5. Clear examples of what you have done to add value to a previous employer

Layer these factors with the conflicts of Time, Change, Human Behaviours, Cost and Capability and we can appreciate where things can go astray. Yet we continue to put up barriers to successful experiences.

Example: Employers throw out poorly defined job specs to recruiters on a contingent basis, sometimes via an in-house recruiter who hasn’t had time to fully understand what is really wanted, recruiters then run off and have a quick go at it because speed is more important than quality. Candidates receive a quick call and very vague job brief and the process has begun… often all parties get what they committed to… a frustrating experience!

Two things can change this whole cycle for the better. (Employer, Recruiter, Candidate)

1. Commitment. Make a mutual commitment to each other. Work exclusively with one recruiter. The recruiter can then make a commitment to all parties to do their job properly because they know they will be rewarded for their efforts. Considerations of Time, Cost and Quality can then be managed in a controlled and professional manner which is surely a better result.

2. Communication. We are dealing with people. Everyday life intervenes and something changes which will have a bearing on the outcome. Candidates must keep recruiters fully informed, employers must de-brief candidly, recruiters must keep both parties fully informed and engaged at each milestone. If this happens then the experience can be a good one regardless of final outcome but if not then it’s rarely so.

Mutual Commitment and Great Communication can change everything.

Market ain’t that hot…let’s keep it real!

I’ve been reading a lot of market commentry about just how hot the ICT employment market is again. I even read a blog from a Sydney based recruiter stating that it’s the hottest market they have ever seen! I hate to be rude but… that person can’t have been around long!

From a recruitment industry perspective let’s keep some perspective and acknowledge that the market is a lot better than this time 12 months ago. However, I suggest cautious optimisism is not a bad approach. Plan for growth without feeling the need to freak out and hire at all cost.

The recruitment industry had a real clean out over the last 18 months with those less than 110% committed to the career opting out. Let’s remain determined to focus on quality and committed people as we re-emerge and grow our businesses.

Talent Shortage approaches “Tipping Point”

Is it possible that so soon after the GFC we could be trending towards a human capital marketplace whereby demand is outstripping supply?

It seems the answer is yes! According to an article published in CIO magazine in Australia last week an ex colleague of mine is quoted suggesting that demand for critical IT specialists will return to pre GFC levels by the end of Q2 this year. Richard Fischer is now MD of Greythorn in Australia and is well positioned to accurately reflect market conditions.

I must concur with him when reflecting on the state of the NZ market. (I’m referrring to the ICT sector here). We now have clients very actively seeking specialists in both contract and permanent capacities. This is in stark comparison to just six months ago when uncertainty and indecisiveness prevailed.

So what? Well at this stage I can only recommend vigilance and a focus on workforce planning. If you feel exposed by a stressed out workforce or light on critical skills then don’t procrastinate. Acting early could be the best plan as it may be harder to find who you want than what you are recently accustomed to and don’t assume the market is flooded with specialists awaiting an opportunity. It isn’t and it may get tighter.

Engage with an agency of choice and commit to a proper sourcing strategy. Recruiting will be back to the top of management KPI charts in no time!

http://www.cio.com.au/article/346206/it_workers_stick_their_guns_through_gfc_survey/?fp=4&fpid=51242