One thing that I think many customers don’t understand is that recruiters don’t necessarily know how to negotiate for them nor possibly even have to power to do that.

One thing that is something of a joke among consultants is that multiple recruiters will discover and contact basically all the same people. When all those potential resources say “no” one might think that the recruiters would become creative about finding someone by finding a way to negotiate the project, but that is seldom the case. Usually, the recruiters are stuck rigidly to the requisition form they’re reading.

Even though I turn away recruiters, they often then ask if I know anyone to suggest. At that point, I might ask them more questions. First of all, a great number of them don’t even know what software products they are trying to find someone with experience in. I can never help them without that information. But where things are so busy, such as the month of January and, especially this January 2013, I might ask if they’d consider getting someone part-time, for example. I have asked questions like these many times and am ALWAYS told “no” by the recruiter.

That is probably because they are reading a form that says that they need someone full-time and on-site. Sometimes, it says that no travel expenses will be paid, either. In any area where there are no available people, it’s unlikely someone will either move there just for the project or will pay their own expenses. It’s possible, but terribly unlikely. Thus, it’s almost certain that the resource

A Story
There is one project that has been trying to be staffed for many months, now. Every once in awhile, yet one more recruiter will call me asking me if I’m interested or know anyone. For one of the early recruiters, I had asked if they required people to travel because I did think I knew someone who might be interested but couldn’t travel. The recruiter said “no” and said that that wasn’t even possible. A month or so later, just by chance, I was speaking with that particular customer and they happened to say they were frustrated that they couldn’t find someone. I said they’d be more likely to find someone if they’d be flexible about travel, and they insisted they were flexible on this.

Not wanting to get involved in it, since I knew I had no chance getting that customer to give me the business over their preferred vendor and having no real business being in the middle, I let this go because I am now pretty sure that one of two things is happening: 1) The recruiter and the customer are not communicating well; or, 2) The recruiter isn’t going to try to stray from getting an on-site person.

I suspect it’s the second more than the first because the recruiter was quite proud that they only obtain “good” on-site resources for customers. I don’t agree that that’s a “good” idea when the customer really just wants a resource, but it’s none of my business, either.

Addressing the Problems
I could give the flip response that customers could avoid this by using the great resources at GeoMetrick Enterprises, where the laboratory informatics industry is the focus and where the customer can speak directly with someone who can discuss whether their needs can be realistically met in an appropriate timeframe, or not. However, many of you reading this are stuck with your preferred vendor and have no choice.

Thus, I would suggest you focus on finding the best and most knowledgeable recruiters from your preferred vendors and stick with them. Do what you can to speak with them about your needs and on the areas where you can and where you cannot be flexible. If your preferred vendor doesn’t have recruiters who understand the laboratory informatics area, see if you can work with them to build this knowledge.

Unfortunately, some of the preferred vendor systems are setup to allow for little to no human contact between the people who need the resources and the recruiters finding the resources. In my opinion, this is the worst situation you can be in and, if it’s not working for you, I don’t know what to suggest.

Some customers have gone so far as to look for resources to suggest to the recruiters. This is a lot of work when you’re paying the recruiters to do this — you’re basically doing their job for them. And recruiters don’t necessarily agree that the resource you selected is a good one, for a variety of reasons. So, when the recruiter calls that person, you might be surprised to find that they don’t make an effort to really connect with that person.

Bottom Line
For customers in some of these situations, while there isn’t a lot you can do to change it, in some cases, at least if you are aware of the problem, you can adjust your project schedule. Adjust the expectations of your users that they might not get the new work done in a predictable timeframe. The worst-case scenario being that you can’t get it done in the year it’s budgeted for, lose that budget money, and never get it done, at all, which I’ve seen happen in some of these cases.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

2 Thoughts to “Yet More About Recruiters for Laboratory Informatics Work”

  1. Not all recruiters are the same but they give a good impression of it. The things you describe are soooo very true. While I am never up for hire, I do hire lots of folks. So my perspective is from the other end as a client. I personally avoid the use of recruiters because they do not add any value for me.

  2. Here is yet another story:

    When my office was in the Cleveland area, there was a local laboratory that was looking to hire a person to implement their LIMS system. They hired a recruiter who called me, as I was in the area and my LinkedIn profile has both the term “LIMS” in it, as well as the proper brand of LIMS. Actually, I knew someone at that customer and they had already directly asked me if I might be interested in the job but, of course, I’m busy with my own company and was not interested nor were they interested in using my company’s services instead of making a direct hire, but we remained friendly. But then, the recruiter did not get the spot filled and the company hired yet another recruiting firm, who also then called me and I, yet again, said “no” to the position.

    This went on a few more times before I finally became frustrated and called the lab to request that they ask their future recruiters not to call me, anymore, as each time they got a new firm, that one more firm would take up my time on the very same issue. Additionally, being relatively new to the Cleveland area, I had no-one else in the area to suggest for the spot, either. That is almost always the next question a recruiter will ask when you say you’re not interested. On top of that, some recruiters are better than others about being respectful of my time, so there were times when the repeated calls on this job were particularly annoying.

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