In the Hiring Process, Communication Shortcuts Don’t Work

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Aug 20, 2015
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

Recruiters have always known that good communication with hiring managers throughout the entire hiring process is necessary in order to get a position filled. It is not enough to just have a job description and an initial conversation. It is equally important to get feedback on individual resumes as they are submitted and on candidates as they are interviewed. But do hiring managers value communication with recruiters?

Recruiters submit candidates who they think are qualified for the position and need to know specifically why a particular candidate is being passed over by the hiring manager. Frequently job specs change over the course of the hiring process and all this information needs to be communicated to recruiters. Recruiters also should let hiring managers know about the current job market for the positions they are trying to fill. Often a hiring manager will simply not know current pay ranges or how much in demand certain skills are in their location.

So why do some companies decide they can fill jobs without ever having to talk to a recruiter?

Instead of having hiring managers work directly with recruiters (and actually have to employ them), many large companies use a VMS (vendor management system) process to fill their open positions. A company that uses a VMS will contract with one of the large franchise-style staffing firms (VMS provider) to take over the hiring function for the designated jobs.

The VMS provider has employees who work onsite at the client site, and they have direct access to hiring managers. They do not (typically) do any recruiting for the open positions and often do not have the ability to find out even the most basic information about the reqs they have been assigned. The VMS provider relies on a vendor list of staffing firms that are granted access to an online software program that contains a list of open jobs. The vendors submit resumes for those jobs into a database but are not allowed to send the resumes directly to hiring managers.

All contact between recruiters or anyone else at the staffing firm and the hiring managers is forbidden. Any questions about the jobs must be directed to the VMS provider. Any contact with a hiring manager by anyone at the staffing firm and the staffing firm will be thrown off the vendor list. Almost all communication is done through emails or messages generated by the VMS software system. Rejecting candidates, requesting interviews, and interview feedback are communicated through the VMS software.

So how does a recruiter get information from a hiring manager who is using a VMS? Every question from a recruiter goes from the vendor to the VMS provider who (hopefully) passes it to the hiring manager who (hopefully) responds to the VMS provider who (hopefully) responds back to the vendor.

Occasionally there will be a conference call between the vendors and the hiring manager, and recruiters will be allowed to ask questions. Recruiters on those calls are only allowed to ask questions about the job order and are not allowed to ask questions about specific resumes to find out exactly why a particular candidate was rejected for the position.

Aren’t shortcuts wonderful? No need for a hiring manager to talk directly to a recruiter about their candidates ever again! All they have to do is click a box on a computer screen to reject a candidate and not have to bother giving an explanation! No more pesky phone calls from recruiters wanting to take up valuable time to talk about candidates! Surely such an efficient system does a great job quickly filling jobs! No? Really?

I know it is not just my imagination that VMS processes don’t work well. Very often a VMS job will open and then halt and there will be interviews and then the position will open and halt again and again and still no one gets hired. There is sometimes information from the VMS provider as to why the position has not been filled, but usually not.

The whole VMS process is slow, frustrating, and irritating for recruiters and candidates alike. I can only guess that the reason companies use a VMS is to save money. I must admit I don’t understand at all how a VMS could possibly save money. Having jobs stay open for extended periods of time must hurt the bottom line at some point. Do hiring managers prefer using a VMS? Doesn’t it bother them when it takes so long to fill their jobs and none of the recruiters are sending them the right candidates?

Recruiting is supposed to be all about relationships, and communication is a huge part of that. There is no shortcut.


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This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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