Is there a professional way for a company to respond when an independent recruiter approved to work on a search presents a candidate who already is in the company’s database?

It is understandable that companies want to find ways to prevent duplications and — let’s be realistic here — avoid paying a recruiter’s fee when the company’s internal HR recruiters already are being paid to cull the database and fill openings.

But let’s also acknowledge that having a person’s resume in any kind of database does not ensure that person is qualified, available, or even interested in an opportunity.

It’s about ACQUIRING the right talent, not finding.

If you think you can hire the talent you want by clicking on websites like CareerBuilder, Monster, or LinkedIn, or by just posting your requirements on your company’s career page and have your HR department do the rest, you don’t understand anything about talent acquisition.

Anyone with a computer ought to be able to find a resume. And anyone with a computer and some skill might even be able to get a specifically talented person to consider “thinking about” working for your company. In acquiring talent don’t you want to ensure that the person you want working for you, will say “yes” to your opportunity? Well, that kind of successful assurance can only be delivered by a specialist who knows THE TALENT ACQUISITION PROCESS. * (*

So it’s not just who is in the database.

Just as a company’s sales team might have information about hundreds of potential customers, it still takes the personal effort of a sales person to find the right person to talk with, get that person to share interest, and then qualify the account.

Recruiters work in the same format – review hundreds of potential persons and then through direct conversations qualify each person as a potential candidate for a position on which the recruiter is working.

With the proliferation of on-line databases and applicant tracking systems, many company leaders believe that by having a person’s resume in its database, the company’s HR department should be able to find candidates for openings without paying a service fee to a recruiter. It will take a supreme effort by the company’s internal recruiters, however, to ensure that every person in the company’s database is actively qualified and earmarked for every position opening.

It’s the investment in finding great talent.

There is no perfect way to ensure that a candidate presented on an assignment by an independent recruiter hasn’t already been entered in the company’s database. Most recruiters, therefore, use this language in recruiting agreements with companies to eliminate referral issues:

Unless a candidate is under active consideration for employment as evidenced by scheduled interview times with client company at the time of the recruiting firm’s referral, client’s prior receipt of a candidate’s resume from any source shall not affect client’s obligation to pay recruiter’s service fee should the candidate become employed.

Companies that appreciate independent recruiters understand that when a person presented by an outside recruiter has been missed by internal recruiters, that is the investment expense of having a focused recruiter on the assignment.

Know the status before beginning.

When beginning a search assignment, professional recruiters ask if there are candidates currently being interviewed by the company. If there are, the recruiters ask for the names of those candidates so that they do not duplicate their effort and contact these people. Should a company acknowledge that there are candidates being considered but declines to provide those names, recruiters have two choices:

1. pass on the assignment until all candidates have been reviewed by the company, the company returns to the recruiter for help and releases the names of the persons who are now or were reviewed for the position.

2. make sure that every person reached about an assignment be first asked whether that person is talking with a particular company. This approach is usually avoided by recruiters because it is an awkward beginning to a conversation and often results in the person becoming unwilling to talk and thus a loss of a potential candidate.

However, in a conversation, recruiters often ask whether the person has been approached by other companies. When the person says there has been no contact from a specific company, the recruiter is trusting in the person’s integrity. If appropriate, the person is further qualified and then submitted as a candidate. The recruiter is now putting professional trust in the client company’s integrity to acknowledge that even if the person is found within its database, should the candidate be hired, the full service fee will be paid.

A recruiter directly asking a company if a specific person is already in the company’s database is not an alternative recruiters will use. By mentioning the person’s name, a spotlight is now on that specific person and could prompt the company to review the candidate who has been languishing in its database and begin its own recruiting process of that person cutting off the recruiter.

A weak technical solution.

There is a technical way, although loaded with limitations, which could be employed to minimize a duplication effort.

The recruiter is provided access to the company’s database and then searches that database to determine whether a person’s name already exists. If the name is found, the recruiter returns to the hiring manager and announces that a prospective candidate – no name given – already exists in the company’s database. In this situation the company must ensure that software safeguards are in place so that the recruiter’s data entry request is not tracked.

While this sounds like a workable alternative, it has several flaws and potential delays that increase the company’s odds of loosing the candidate’s interest.

1. Having the company try to find on its own who in its database the recruiter was referring to will delay the company from any interview with the person.
2. The recruiter may decide to present that person to alternative opportunities.
3. What if the person was entered into the company’s database for a different position at a different location and therefore was passed on the active position but the recruiter knows the person has moved or has added new skills that now make the person a top candidate?
4. There could be several people in the database with similar names.
5. What if the first name in the database is William but everyone knows the person as Bill or something similar with names like John and Jack. Is it E. Robert Jones or Bob Jones? Is the last name hyphenated or changed through marriage? Just imagine other variations that make a name search very unreliable.
6. Using telephone numbers or email addresses as further qualifiers won’t work either because both might have been changed by a person since the original information was entered into the company’s database.

Companies hope that by having its own database and internal recruiters, it should be easy to find, qualify, and hire without ever using an independent recruiter.

Acquiring specific talent with the help of a professional independent recruiter is an investment. If a company is not willing to invest in talent acquisition, then there is no reason to engage a recruiter.

The simple, honest, professional way:

If an authorized recruiter presents a candidate who is not being interviewed by the company and that person is hired, the recruiter’s service fee is due.

April 4, 2013 by:
Jack Bourque, President
Wireless Careers, Inc.

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