Friday, June 03, 2016

Recruiters and daisy chains

The only recruitment firm that I would ever consider using is Superstars. It's run by a dear friend of mine Steve Hutson who I've known for last fourteen years. Steve used to work in the mainstream recruitment industry but began to loathe it because of its practices. He decided to change the way he worked and how recruitment was done. In Superstars, there is no margin, no fees and people are treated as talent, as individuals rather than a commodity shunted about by "human traders" - as one particularly vile firm likes to refer to itself.

There's a lot to dislike about the recruitment industry, so it's good to see Steve succeed in building a new style of firm which changes those practices. One of the worst practices (which I've just caught sight of again, hence the post) is daisy chaining.

Daisy chaining is a based upon the obvious premise that once you find someone a new job then that leaves a hole to fill i.e. their previous job. You can therefore chain a long list of people together and get them to each jump into the next role. This practice is beloved by recruitment consultants as they earn fees on each person jumping, the bigger the chain the more the fee. It also creates a promotion ladder for those in the chain,

I suspect daisy chain is also partially responsible for why I hear large companies complain they can't find big data / IoT talent (when there's plenty out there) whilst real experts in big data / IoT complain they can't find jobs and keep on meeting muppet VPs of big data / IoT who don't understand the basics. The problem is the recruiters want to use the chain (i.e. it's more fees for them) and if you're not part of the chain then you're not very useful. To be part of the chain, you need to have a job so that the recruiter can fill that one to extend the chain and so on.

So basically, just in case it's not clear, the chain works as follows.

Recruiter gets wind (dinners with execs / golf course or whatever) that Company B requires an SVP. Recruiter says they've got the perfect candidate C1 who is currently VP with Company C and offers to make the arrangements, even offering to waive some of the fees because they are friends. Execs agree to meet.

Recruiter phones up C1 and tells them that Company B is desperate to meet with them. 

Recruiter immediately phones up Candidate D1 who is CTO for company D and tells them they have heard that Company C is going to be looking for a new VP. Lines up Candidate D1 for the role.

Recruiter immediately phones up Candidate E1 who is a Engineering Head for company E and tells them that they have heard that Company D is going to be looking for a new CTO. Lines up E1 for the role.

... and so on.

C1 accepts the job of SVP at Company B. The Company B thanks the recruiter for their help - "well, we're partners in this" says the recruiter. Since the recruiter is part of the process, they know roughly when candidate C1 has told their company C that they are leaving.

Recruiter immediately phones up a friendly exec at Company C (those dinners have purpose), chats about how they've heard C1 is leaving. Says they've actually got the ideal candidate D1 who they know is looking and is keen to work there - saves all the hassle of advertising etc. Hint, after laying it on thick about hard recruitment is, many execs are just pleased to hear that a possible replacement can be found quickly. Make introduction. 

 ... and so down the chain you go, every time clocking a % of salary as a finders fee. 

Of course, suppose there is the ideal candidate for one of those roles who is unemployed or not employed in a valuable role that can be easily replaced by another?  Well, they're unlikely to be offered the job because this breaks the chain. Hence if you bother to look, there's oodles of big data / IoT talent out there looking for roles along with companies looking for big data / IoT talent. The problem is your recruitment processes and the companies that you use are broken.