Predictable Hiring Part 2

We ended the last blog looking at the idea that, no matter how much every stakeholder (hiring manager, internal talent team, external agency recruiter, etc.) wants or needs to fill the vacancy – the Contingent (no win/no fee) model forces logical people into illogical actions due to its very nature. (If you missed it you can catch up here) 

And, in addition to being illogical due to forcing the service providers to never be able to fully focus their time, resources or efforts to ensuring the best possible service is delivered to their client, that speed and hustling urgency that competition engenders means that it’s likely that any presented candidates are just “the tip of the available iceberg”.

Metaphorically, they are likely to be those who are standing with their hands in the air to every passing recruiter saying “Hi, I’m free to chat to you!”

(And, if they are free to chat to me, they are free to chat to him, and her, and him and her and everyone else……)

We know that there’s an optimal time for engaging with potential new talent – and it’s usually around the time they start to feel a little bit “itchy” and start to consider a new challenge – but there’s a major difference between that natural cycle and a “job-hopper”. A job-hopper moves frequently and sporadically. They move on a whim…or because someone has dangled a big juicy new role in front of their face.

An unwanted by-product of the Contingent model is this constant “skimming of the surface” of Talent Pools and attraction of the “most active” top percentage of the market rather than the deeper, harder to engage members of the Pool (the folks who are too busy to be on Linkedin or who don’t answer their phone every time it rings because they are deep in work)

For the sake of the argument, we’ll assume that our PSL start working on the role. They have their other roles on their desk, and they divide their available time that week up according to the “hotness” of each role (recruitment businesses use a grading system to rank jobs in order of priority)

If I have 50 working hours that week – and 5 jobs to work – I’m averaging ten hours on each job. The reality is that I am allocating more to the “hotter” jobs (but never too much more just in case I put too much egg in that basket) and trying to speak to the best candidates for those roles as I can.

The best candidates? Do I really mean that?

What I should have said is the candidates who are prepared to engage with me because, frankly, I don’t have the time for anything else. I have a competing recruiter (or 2 or 3 or more) breathing down my neck and, if I don’t chat to Sally Smith over there whose LinkedIn profile looks kind of right, one of them will.

And I will fire her CV over right away if she is remotely suitable because:

Whichever recruiter gets the CV over first can claim “ownership/representation rights” on that candidate.

It’s a generally accepted “rule” of multi-vendor Contingent Recruitment. Many, many clients have this built into the Terms of Business.

You don’t agree to this? You won’t be supplying to us.

So, if Sally looks anything like a Head of Data Science can I really run the risk of NOT sending her over to the client if she’s interested?

Do I gamble and spend 1 of my available hours that week having a competency-based discussion with Sally to determine whether she has the necessary technical, emotional, and business skills to run a Data Science department?

That hour is an hour I can’t spend looking for someone else who might be a better fit (and that my competition might get to first!!)

D'ye know what?

When in doubt, send it out – Sally’s CV has gone over.

From the recruiter’s perspective – that’s the logical thing to do. From the candidate’s perspective, that’s very much the logical thing to do (you’ve got to be in it to win it, right?)

From the service provision perspective? Not so logical.

A PSL of 4 or 5 recruiters sending over CVs like this, just in case, and because they’re scared that if they don’t take a chance on this CV – their competition will – is completely illogical. The recruiter’s role is to act as the filter, the custodian of quality if you will, to ensure that only the best fit profiles are presented to the client.
Back to time, resource, and money.

Now, that internal talent agent is receiving CV after CV after CV from their expert data recruitment service providers. (Surely, if my PSL have sent them over, they must be “best fit”, right? After all, it was outsourced to them because they know what they are looking for, right?)

So, every CV is reviewed and processed (taking time), sent to the hiring manager (taking even more time and preventing the hiring manager from doing their core tasks), who comes back again and again with “not quite right”

And, even when someone is decent enough on paper to warrant a chat, the client soon finds out that they are (although not being of tremendous quality) very active in the market with a whole load of applications out there and loads of interviews going on.

So, based on the best advice they’ve been given by their recruiters – they move fast and get the candidate in ASAP for an interview……

To discover they really aren’t that suitable at all……

And on and on and on and on it goes!

It’s illogical because it’s forcing the very people (specialist data recruiters) who know how to dig deep and find the right person to avoid that and focus instead on finding the next person.

It’s also unpredictable because instead of the client knowing they are going to be reviewing the very best talent on the market for the role the chances are the very opposite: they’re reviewing the most available.

Very big difference.

Contingent Recruitment DOES work – it’s a tremendous model for some markets and in certain situations. It’s a light touch, minimal commitment, hassle free way of two parties collaborating when the stakes aren’t that high.

Today, for Data recruitment? With the pressure on Talent teams, on Data Leaders and on organisations to ensure the best possible fit for their mission-critical hire??

It’s maybe just a bit too illogical and unpredictable……..

Predictable Hiring Part 3 is available here.

Are you looking to attract individual talent or build a data team? MBN Solutions offer a logical and reliable way to secure data talent for your business or project.

Get in touch here for support and guidance in this area.

Author Bio


As Director of Client Services for MBN Solutions, Rob has spent over two decades at the sharp end of Talent Acquisition practice for the Data sector. During this time, he has partnered with some of the UK’s leading data-driven businesses to deliver best-in-class talent solutions. In addition, working in an advisory capacity, Rob designed, built, and delivered the Data Lab’s MSc Placement Programme, has contributed to forums including Scotland’s AI Strategy and DMA Council and sits on University of Glasgow’s School of Maths & Stats Industrial Advisory Board. A regular data industry blogger and event host, Rob also now hosts a data leadership focussed podcast called Boss’n’Data and has been recognised by Data IQ as one of their 100 most influential Data and Analytics practitioners in UK organisations for two years running