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Recruitment Agencies from the Quality Viewpoint: the Customer

It will be no surprise for the regular readers in my statement that the six of ten publications on difficulties of the recruitment occupation indicate employers distrust in relation to this, sort of, progressive and effective tool of employees sourcing and recruiting.  

Isn’t it strange – the general managers don’t change oil in their personal cars with their own hands, they don’t assemble their PC, don’t dream in a sheepskin coat and fur cap with a fowling piece at the entrance of their office to guard it, however, they prefer to participate personally in recruiting! What does this mean? On the one hand, the managers are very exacting to the quality of their possible employees, on the other – they distrust the service quality of recruitment agencies.  At the same time (it will be shown below) the meaning of “quality” is interpreted by participants of the labor market in their own different ways.   

Let us, without re-inventing the wheel, to consider the recruitment business quality from the viewpoint of the International Standards Organization ISO9000. 

The contemporary system of quality provision in the general economical aspect is a mutually coordinated activity of the whole working staff within all the phases of any product’s life: marketing, development, logistics, preparation and development of technological processes, production, inspection, tests, package, storage, sale, mounting, operation and after-sales service [118].   

The specific features of the quality systems under ISO 9000 are:

–          targeting to the customer, to provision of maximal compliance between its  variable  demands and offered services;

–          within the whole internal chain from an ordinary clerk to the Director General the “supplier-consumer” relations are functioning, where each following link assesses production quality of the preceding one;

–          possibility of certification by the third, absolutely independent and unbiased side;

–          the primary emphasis is placed not on repairing of any flaw, but on its prevention, on the constant improvement of processes;

–          an executor is becoming the main quality inspector responsible for the quality of processes and final products;

–          the quality systems involve such elements as marketing, analyses of contracts, selection and assessment of suppliers, application of statistical methods, analysis of expenses for higher quality, internal quality audits etc.  

The said features are the basis of the following review of publications on the recruitment agencies services quality brought to your attention.

Targeting to the Customer

The employers are absolutely right lamenting over the recruitment agencies, which fairly often grasp an order without inquiring into the real needs of their companies [28,72]. “Some of them consider the employees sourcing and recruiting as a quite simple business – after all, everyone is a great judge of men’s character. So, many people fancy themselves ‘makers’ of recruitment services, and numerous agencies numbering 3-5 persons spring up all over like mushrooms after a good rain” [77]. 

One of the unwritten laws of mutual collaboration is recruitment agencies commitment to operate in behalf of the Customer. For instance, [88] describes a story about a computer company, which was trying to find a director and received from some recruiting agencies 57 resumes of applicants not meeting the requirements absolutely.  At the same time a colleague from another agency, being a computational expert, recommended three quite acceptable nominees. So, the company’s managers made a conclusion: “Only a person, who knows your business, is able to determine suitability of required nominee… If the recruitment agency’s representatives are trying to get an order from your company by any means promising to provide any nominees at the earliest possible date it is a bad sign; however, if they would like to study the character of your company business, its prospects and style of the work, such approach may find only a ready welcome”.   

On the other hand, many recruitment agencies consultants are railing at ignorance of the customer [77]: “as before, the customer …doesn’t know many nuances. As a rule, he remains in two states: 1. Hypnotically-elevated one, when the customer considers the recruiting service as something like the Hi-End and is ready to pay for it any money; 2. Negatively-alerted, when the customer considers the recruiting as a kind of racket and prices as inflated ones and put out of a hat”. Therefore, “as soon as any new customer appears, he shall be trained to think in the same manner as we do” [102]; “be trained… how to squeeze all the possible out of me or my colleague-recruiter” [110]; “be educated through explanation of our activity on its order execution” except the data base scanning [19], “be provided with a reputation of the recruiting service in general, irrespective of the recruitment agency’s name” [42].   

The recruiter shall have sufficient resoluteness to persuade the customer to respect the applicants, he shall not repeat the issues described in reports, be able to present the applicants in the most favorable light as not job petitioners, but as well accommodated busy professionals wasting their private time for interview and, to a certain extent, laying their reputation on the line [117]. 

The office location and convenience, even the working hours –all of them serve as the quality indices. One extreme but illustrative case is described in [95]: at two o’clock after midnight the phone call into the recruitment agency, which is specialized on IT-developers; the consultant takes up the phone receiver, identifies himself, asked how he could be helpful and hear: “Excuse me, but what are you doing here in such time?” The recruiter: “We are giving answers to people calling in such time”.  

“At present the consumers determine the search technique by themselves, requiring its orderliness and effectiveness …they ‘push’ tactfully the recruiters to an acknowledge of the fact that the good money could be earned at transfer from exclusive approach to the orderliness, and that the prices have to be reasonable in spite of exclusive nature of the services.  Otherwise the consumers may be lost… In the near future the majority of recruitment agencies will be forced to conduct the more-consumer-oriented policy” [77]. Moreover, some leading companies and banks, having no confidence in re-education of available recruitment agencies, are trying to establish their own recruitment agencies [1, 45, 99].

For constructing equal-right relations and diminishing risk of the order non-fulfillment (to prevent fall of the image – both its own and that of recruitment business as a whole) the recruitment agency shall forecast the progress of selection and discuss its doubts with the customer. The criteria of good order may be [10, 19]: (1) a confidence in necessity of the urgent hiring; (2) realistic determination of the tasks to be solved by the future employee, availability of resources; (3) the customer’s understanding of the vacancy’s attractiveness and readiness to “sell” the vacancy beautifully; (4) availability of nominees at the market of specialists; (5) understanding of failure reasons of other recruitment agencies working previously with this order.   Correspondingly, the conscious and interested customer shall prepare in advance the maximum of open information on its company, define the problem in detail, ensure collaboration of recruitment agency and his own personnel service in closing of the vacancy, suggest some key criteria on the hiring decision; in other words, he shall prepare the recruitment agency’s consultant for successful presentation of the company and vacancy [117]. 

to be continued…