A former consultant at people2people (let's call him John), now a national HR manager, called me this morning with an interesting situation for which he requested some advice. It's an interesting story, so I thought I would share it in a post, because it could be useful for hiring managers and HR professionals who are faced with a similar dilemma.
Recruiting for a maternity leave contract (in an area in which people2people does not specialise, I should add), John engaged one of his preferred agencies. They were able to source a good candidate who met the brief, but, unfortunately, the candidate also received another offer and subsequently declined the role John had offered. A week passed by, and, because time was running short, John engaged another supplier to find cover for his maternity leave contract. They responded quickly and forwarded a CV... of the same candidate who had declined the role previously! According to the new agency, the candidate was unhappy in her current temporary role (the one she chose over John's) and was looking for another opportunity.
So here is the dilemma: John is keen to hire the candidate, but which agency should he hire the candidate through?
To solve this, you need to consider the terms on which you engaged the agency. Standard industry practice would restrict the hiring of any candidate 'introduced' to the client for a period of usually six or twelve months. What constitutes an effective introduction is often debated. Sending a CV is not enough, but requesting an interview would be. You need to check the definitions in the terms of business to which you have agreed.
Some companies have preferred supplier terms with agencies and specifically state that an introduction is for a specific role only. For John, he read the terms and acknowledged that the first agency did have an effective introduction. Although the second agency argued otherwise, the candidate was introduced by the first agency, and, more importantly, if the second agency had briefed the candidate on the role thoroughly, then they should have been aware that the candidate had already been introduced to John's company. If the candidate was not forthcoming with the second agency that she had already been forwarded to this role previously, then she is only making her job search harder.
Liam Hassell, manager of people2people's contract accounting team, has prepared a short video on this topic previously. If the candidate is unhappy in her current role, the best advice is to talk to the agency that placed her and/or the agency that had originally sent her details to John. Finally, the one issue that made it easy for John to call the first agency back was the fact that the rate quoted by the second agency was nearly 25% more expensive! The difference between agency rates is a great blog topic, and I will leave that for another time.