A battle between agency recruitment and internal recruitment is nothing new nowadays. Since the inception and growth of in-house recruitment teams it has turned into our industry’s very own hundred year war. The tension between the two factions follows a familiar pattern: Agency recruiters are targeted with making as many placements and billing as much money as possible. Internal recruiters are targeted on cost per hire and a sizeable reduction in agency spend to justify their existence.
However, they’re also tasked with time to hire and quality of hire, plus often have agitated hiring managers breathing down their necks, jostling for attention among fifty or more open job requisitions. And so, naturally, agencies are still called upon, a truce is called, a game of Christmas Day footie is arranged between the neighbouring trenches, and some business is done.
The expectations on the delivery and performance of the agency is, though, extremely high. As of course it should be for the size of the fees involved. Every internal recruiter out there will have their own portfolio of horror stories when these febrile agreements are entered into, but one I heard this week probably takes the cake.
Or does it?
The bad behaviours in the story are unassailable: The winning of a retained assignment followed by four weeks of complete radio silence. The representation of an unsuitable candidate from the internal recruiter’s previous place of work with misrepresentations about their ability and suitability. Attempting to cut the internal recruiter out of the process and undermining them to their manager.
Worst of all, a contingent placement was also made, where the candidate lasted one week before leaving. As you’d expect, the invoice for this placement was yet to be paid. However, bizarrely (or so it seems to me), the agency are insisting on payment of the invoice still, so they can then start working on the free replacement. And when I say insisting, I mean issuing emailed rants questioning the honesty and integrity of the internal recruiter who is refusing to pay.
In my twelve years recruiting I have, unfortunately, had a couple of instances where, for varying reasons, the placed candidate has left before invoice payment. In those instances I’ve been more interested in damage limitation and maintaining the client relationship. I’ve torn up the invoice, and continued recruiting a replacement, for which I would be able to bill another fee, rather than doing it for free.
Contractually of course the agency recruiter is within their rights, assuming they have the usual terms of business in place. The work has been done and a fee is due, and will need to be paid within a certain time frame in order for the free replacement guarantee to apply.
For me I guess it’s a question of contractual obligations versus moral obligations. The relationship is beyond repair, so it seems improbable that the agency will do their best work in securing a free replacement, knowing that future work from this client is unlikely anyway. It would seem logical, to me, to chalk it up as a bad deal, and just move on. This agency sees it differently though, and want their money, seemingly shameless about chasing thousands of dollars for a shoddy service and awful outcome.
I’d be interested to hear from both agency and internal sides this week. What would you do?