Under the Bonnet – CV’s: Volume or Quality? You’d be surprised what some people want…..

Simon RoderickAbout recruitment, Resources for hiring managers

How to write a good CV

Under the Bonnet – in this series, our MD, Simon Roderick, lifts the lid on the workings of a recruitment firm.

The recruitment industry has often been criticised for sending firms lots of inappropriate CVs, and if I’m honest its probably a fair criticism of the industry when I started in the 90’s. The fashion was for management teams to encourage staff to meet internal KPIs, which went something like this: send out eight CVs (even if five weren’t suitable), get five first interviews, in the hope you get three second interviews, and the theory being this should lead to a placement. If nothing else, you were told, you would “fatigue” the hirer into making a decision. For many people who worked in the industry at the time, being a junior recruiter was pretty hard. They knew that their clients only wanted to see relevant CVs, they knew that their relationship management skills would be tested to the limit, and it’s probably why a number of people left jobs with companies with this ethos in search of boutiques, who they thought may do things differently – and hopefully better. It wasn’t always the case!

I think the recruitment industry has learnt a lot lessons over the last ten years or so. In financial services we’ve had a number of mini-recessions, and one large one in the credit crisis. Each time recruitment firms have had to re-evaluate their businesses, and refocus on being a quality supplier. Whilst painful, it’s probably a good thing that every now and then the industry has to take a long hard look at itself.

Certainly, when I set up Fram, I wanted to be known as a quality supplier and I personally don’t believe in KPIs relating to the number of CVs to send for a role. My personal ethos is that if we’ve only got two good CVs to shortlist, then we will send two and explain to the client the reasons why we can’t source more CVs. If I’m honest, in vast majority of cases it’s because the client’s expectations are out of kilter with the talent available in the market. Within certain professions it’s always been the way that firms want to hire people with a client following. However, businesses have got better at retaining clients by giving them a number of points of contact in a business, and improving their restrictive covenants. By the time an individual can speak to clients again, the clients are often happy to stay put. Therefore, we can’t send clients 15 CVs a quarter of people who can transfer their client base within 18 months. These people definitely exist, but they are in the minority in any industry, are highly sought after, and therefore it would be impossible for us to say to any client that we meet 60 people a year who meet their criteria – and who want to interview with their business.

However, what we have noticed over the last few months is that SOME firms with an ongoing recruitment need are keen to see as many CVs as possible – even if they too know that the candidates may not be suitable. In some cases there is quite a lot of pressure to keep CV numbers up and I’m not sure if HR teams are being put under enormous pressure to help build businesses through people acquisition (and the resulting client transfer), and they have their own KPIs they need to satisfy. It could be that interviewers feel that they may spot potential missed by the recruitment firm, which sometimes they do, but generally I think it leads to everyone investing a lot of time in a process that was always destined to fail. Man hours are expensive. In many service companies, it’s often the most expensive resource and so I wouldn’t recommend ever arranging an interview unless all parties believe there is a good chance of success.

I wouldn’t say the above is the norm, and recruitment companies have a real responsibility to ensure that they don’t waste the time of any of the parties they work with. I would always recommend that before appointing a recruiter firms really delve into the firm’s culture, and ask what KPIs they have, what their screening processes are. In my experience there’s no substitute for meeting job seekers in person, but many recruitment firms don’t.

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