Recruitment

Floating CV’s Without Pissing Off Internal Recruiters

By November 5, 2015 One Comment

One of the most prickly bones of contention in the subtle dance between agency recruiters and in-house recruiters is the CV float.  For those of you unaware, or who use a different term, a CV float is the act of a recruiter e-mailing in a CV of a candidate to a company that the recruiter thinks that company might be interested in.  The recruiter does not have an actual vacancy or requisition on with that client (sending a CV in those instances is called…err…Recruitment).  A float is pure opportunism on the part of the recruiter, but for hard-to-fill roles in many businesses, they can actually be quite welcomed by the in-house recruiter or hiring manager.

But there is an art to effectively floating in a candidate to a “client” (inverted commas because it’s unlikely they actually are a client in the truest sense, in these circumstances).  Check out this recent exchange between a “Senior Consultant” in New Zealand and an Auckland-based company in the digital space:

Hi xxxx,

I realise we have not spoken so far but I wanted to introduce myself as I am a senior recruiter on the sales desk here at xxxx. I wanted to show you the CV of an excellent technical BDM that I am currently working with that I believe would of interest to you and your team.

Please find attached the CV of xxxx, who I know personally and can vouch for his technical knowledge and business development experience. Xxxx has an excellent technical background beginning his career at … etc etc…

If xxxx’s profile is of interest please get in touch or I will follow up in the coming days in order to discuss his profile.

To be fair to the consultant he does go into some useful detail about the candidate’s background and situation, he’s put some effort into marketing the guy here, although it’s hardly tailored specifically to the company he is floating to and was doubtless copied and pasted to a few other companies too… Here is the in-house recruiter’s response:

Hi xxxx

Thanks for your message.

I just want to let you know I don’t accept unsolicited floats, I find them unethical and unfair on the candidate. We also don’t use agencies for Sales roles.

Regardless, the skillset of xxxx isn’t really right for our organisation and his base salary would be somewhat higher than we would pay for a BDM role here.

Regards,

xxxx

But the recruiter wasn’t happy to let that one go and pushed a bit harder:

Thank you for your response. As I mentioned in my email, xxxx is a personal friend and has asked me to locate opportunities for him this week. So far organising 4 first stage interviews for him. I agree that the floats that are spammed out are unethical but this was a targeted float. I know xxxx’s industry background was not spot on but he is one of the best BDMs I know in the market and would be an asset to any organisation.

I appreciate that you don’t use agencies for Sales roles. This is a shame as I have just met with an excellent BDM candidate coming from a digital marketing organisation, salary is circa $75,000.

Best of luck with your search,

Targeted float?  Hmmmm….. And then to follow up waking a grumpy bear by poking it with a stick – well actually my candidate has 4 interviews so you’re missing out and oh I actually just met someone who would be great for you but you can’t see him now then – is both brave, stupid and a little petulant.  At least the recruiter has some balls I suppose, although this is a kind of response it’s difficult to get away with in a small market like NZ.  So it goes…the in-house recruiter retorts:

Hi xxxx,

Thanks for responding, I disagree on your definition of a targeted float.

So do I.  But we all know this guy isn’t going to let that one fly…:

Hi xxxx,

How else can a recruiter prove their ability to an unknown client? I had tried to call you but was unable to get through and a cold email is worse then a cold call.

I spoke to xxxx about opportunities within the sector he has worked but also some different sectors. Xxxx doesn’t feel he should be pigeon holed into the tech space.

Every company has there [sic] policies and I fully respect that xxxx have gone with an internal approach. However I wouldn’t agree with calling targeted floats unethical, whilst it does open doors for recruiters it also gives candidates opportunities then wouldn’t be able to access normally.

If you ever engage agencies I would like to work with xxxx, seems like a very interesting company.

Kind regards,
xxxx

He still seems to believe what he did was a “targeted” float, rather than chancing his arm by emailing his friend’s CV into a company who he saw advertising on SEEK (presumably) in the hope he could swag a cheeky placement fee rather than telling his mate to apply to the advert he saw.  The in-house recruiter sees it differently too, of course:

Hi xxxx

To answer your question, a recruiter proves their worth by engaging correctly. Which means making contact and having some form of relationship with the client before floating CVs. I get a large volume of agencies contacting me on a weekly basis, none of which have sent me an unsolcitted float without talking to me first. Having worked in an agency (albeit briefly) and in a number of sales roles, I’m aware of how hard cold prospecting can be, but it still needs to be done the right way. Yes, a cold phone call and a cold email are parts of the job and something you obviously have to do, and I have no issue with either.

However, without having spoken to me or anyone else at xxxx to find out what our requirements are, there is no way that sending me a CV of a candidate can be considered targeted, it is a scatter gun approach. In fact that is borne out by the unsuitability of xxxx as a candidate for us (though he looks a good prospect for IT sales roles).

I consider this unethical because there is no way you can have told the candidate you had a potential role for him here, even as a float, because if you did that would be a lie and if you didn’t tell him prior that you were going to float him here, regardless of your relationship with him, I’d still consider that a breach of trust. I certainly wouldn’t float a friend to a company I’d never spoken to and had no idea his CV was coming.

I’d also be surprised that [your company] would consider that good practice either.

The to and fro kind of peters out from there, but it’s an argument that raises some interesting questions for what our roles actually are in the recruitment industry.

I personally believe there is a place for CV floats, but I’d rather use a different term than “targeted” and refer to the proper ones as “Educated”.  An activity where the recruiter intimately knows a client and their business and uses their commercial nous and industry understanding to send a CV to a client that is worth opening.  Anything less than this is no different to placing a bet on the Melbourne Cup based upon the horse’s name and just being lucky enough to have a love of Cornish towns.

There are many subtle nuances in the art of performing a good CV float.  In the act of floating a CV, you are unavoidably challenging the in-house recruiter’s sense of pride, not to mention ego, and you have to tread lightly not to disturb that too much.  The candidate has to be suitable, which means the recruiter must know the culture, the workings, the business, and the requirements of a company they choose to float a CV too.  You then have to accept that the in-house recruiter is likely to be annoyed that you have found someone that their own efforts have failed to find, and so it’s vital that the candidate you float in has given you express permission to represent them to that company.

Ultimately, in times of talent shortage, and companies constrained to recruitment PSA providers, a proper float can actually help keep companies growing and the wheels of industry turning.

Just don’t be a prick about it when you do it.

Jonathan Rice

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.

One Comment

  • Avatar A says:

    Nice article as ever Jon, but the overall picture comes across as just lazy recruiting – a lot of effort to push the candidate via email – where surely the phone is still the preferred way to progress the float at the start ideally, but definitely there’s a need to pick up the phone after having had a response (or to discuss a meeting or coffee?).
    This email trail has probably completely avoided any actual engagement with the client and probably the opposite as this recruiter STILL hasn’t actually asked anything re what’s important to the clients business at the moment… missed opportunities all through this!
    PS Congrats on the big five-oh 🙂

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