Lots of times the best ecommerce candidate doesn't get the job. There are probably a hundred reasons why this is so, but this post only covers one: The client decides to engage a contingency recruiter only after the search has been open for several months.
A good recruiter is like the fire department: You never want to call them, but they're there if you need them. Recruiters are expensive. I get that. And lots of contingency recruiters suck. I get that too. The old joke in my industry is that "being the best contingency recruiter is like being the tallest midget." Politically incorrect, but true.
Still, truly great contingency recruiters are out there, and they can make a whale of a difference to a client's business if there's an element of mutual trust and respect. But very often it takes a client several months of trying to close an ecommerce search on their own before they get to that point mentally.
"The difference between salad and garbage is timing ..."
What happens if you are an ecommerce jobseeker and you apply for a certain job before I'm awarded the search? Well, sadly, you are now my competitor. Yep. Even if I know you are highly qualified for the job, I cannot represent you on the deal. You've already applied, and according to the client's fee agreement, the client is not going to pay me to manage your candidacy.
Which sucks, because I'm sure I would have improved your chances greatly by mapping your initial resume to the job description, giving you advice on the client's hot buttons, helping you understand the hiring committee's political agenda, and covering you up with company and market research to help you nail your interviews.
There's lots of creative stuff I can do to help you get the job -- but through no fault of your own, you applied for the role and now I'm duty bound to help my current candidates beat you in the search.
Neither of us could have predicted that the client would reach out to me in frustration even though your resume is sitting right ... under ... their ... nose.
I hate this for both of us, because you may in fact be highly qualified for the job, but the client didn't know enough about you to appreciate your background. You are a diamond in the rough, and in the rough you shall stay. This does not make me a heartless bastard: Ninety percent of the time my client won't tell me which candidates have applied for the role, and even when they do I am professionally obligated to help my current candidates get the job.
What can you do about this?
Nothing really, other than try not to shotgun your resume around the industry. Beyond that, you can keep in touch with your industry's best recruiters and see what they have in the pipeline. Certainly I'll tell you if you ask, but most contingency recruiters will say that I'm insane for doing this. Why? Because average recruiters are afraid that you will go around them if they tell you who the client is. Wimps.
I have never operated like that.
If you're a highly qualified candidate, I may mention that "I heard Company X is looking for a VP of Ecommerce, and their VP of HR reached out to me about possibly handling the search. Let's wait a week to see if I get the deal. If I don't, then I'll call the VP of HR and recommend you for the job. If I do get the search, then I'd love to manage your candidacy." I might even provide some judicious commentary about Company X, its lines of business, who else may have applied, and so on.
This positions me to the candidate as a valuable source of intel, and demonstrates to them the value of waiting to see if I land the search.
Again, I know of very few recruiters who operate like this, even though I have never been screwed by an A-player when I've taken this tact. There's absolutely nothing unethical about this strategy, and I've found that only second-rate (ie, insecure) candidates go around me.
Later, these B-players are easily dispatched by my heavily-armed A-players when I do get the search -- or even when I don't get the search, and I introduce these loyal A-players to the company's VP of HR as a courtesy to everyone.
Either way, I win. Because in contingency recruiting, there's a lot to be said for karma.Tweet