It’s known as “backdooring”: when a client hires your candidates outside the agreed upon recruitment process. They get their talent – but do you get your fees?
We all hope for the best possible relations with our clients. And, for the most part, the recruitment industry is a fairly ethical place to work. Some may accuse recruiters of having ‘sharp elbows’ from time to time but, at the end of the day, we all understand that making a deal relies on finding a mutual common ground. For this to happen, there has to be an element of trust and mutual respect. In some ways, this makes it all the more frustrating when things don’t follow the script.
We’ve talked recently about what it means to be an ethical recruiter. This time, we want to take a look at what you should do if one of your own clients proves to be somewhat less than reputable. We also look at the ways that your recruitment software can provide an absolutely indispensable aid in winning a claim against a dodgy client.
In an ideal world, all our clients are ideal. We open up an initial dialogue. We enter their company details into our recruitment CRM. And then we work our magic finding the right candidates for their roles.
Occasionally though, things will turn sour. You complete all of those above steps, but then… it all goes quiet. That applicant who seemed ideal does not get their position and, even stranger, disappears from your radar a few weeks later. Only a small amount of Linkedin digging is required to discover that – surprise, surprise – your applicant did get a job with that client after all. Only… you never got the credit for it.
Companies who attempt to dodge recruitment fees are thankfully few and far between. But they do exist. Here are a few important points to know in case you are every faced with a problem client.
The Introduction is (Often) Everything
Any dispute that has gone through the UK legal system at least once will likely have some kind of precedent. UK law is case law, meaning that the outcome of a case will often be determined by the specifics of the individual case, and informed by similar cases from the past.
The British courts have determined that a client should only pay a single introductory fee – and this is awarded to the agent who is most responsible for the placement. This is known as “Effective Cause” in legal terms. It places the greatest value on the circumstances of the initial introduction.
In many situations, demonstrating your agency as being the effective cause of a candidate’s employment will settle the dispute in your favour. And demonstrating this requires only that you are able to prove that you were the first agent to introduce client to candidate.
But how do you do this?
Customer Relationship Management is crucial
These days, all data is valuable. It means that managing the transaction of information in your daily working life is all the more important. And, in the situation of a wayward client fee, failure to manage data will impact your earnings.
If you need to make a claim against a client for a lost fee, you will need to prove the paper trail. Thankfully, our organisations have come a long way from the days of hand-typed minutes and PostIt® notes and today’s paper trails are mostly digital. An email is admissible court evidence. So is an SMS text message, or a WhatsApp group chat. The tricky part is keeping tabs on all of these various channels.
Software for recruiters that keep account of “who’s been told what and when” are easy to come by. One of the most important of these is the recruitment CRMS (“Customer Relationship Management System”).
The CRMS is the cloud or desktop application which holds all of your data on, about, and for clients. But if you think of your recruitment CRMS as little more than a digital Rolodex, you are missing the much bigger picture.
A recruitment CRMS generates minute-by-minute records of your interactions and your progress with each client. With the eBoss recruitment software, for example, we provided a granular candidate track, which logs each stage of the hiring process. From this screen, you can see when your candidate was rejected by the wayward client and – more importantly – when their details were first supplied. If you have to contest a fee claim, your recruitment CRMS could just prove to be your star witness.
Why this matters
At this point, the onus falls on your client to prove that an effective cause existed prior to the time found in your records. If they are unable to provide this evidence, you have a very strong claim on those misplaced fees.
It is one exemplary case of the recruitment software doing the work in the background that you hope you will never need to call upon. Rest assured: if you didn’t have those records in place, Murphy’s Law would mean you definitely required them at some point.
Check the Agreement
It’s always important to know your rights and check your legal standing within any agreement that you enter into. Clients can structure their terms of engagement to override the standard effective cause rules.
Contract law permits this. It may be considered slightly “sharp” practice. But, as long as the specific contractual terms are defined clearly within the document, it is entirely possible for a cleverly-worded agreement to bypass these standard rules. If you are in any doubt over your protections against missed fees, you should consult a legal advisor.
Safeguard Your Business
At the end of the day, the “backdooring” of talent is a thankfully small part of the UK recruitment industry. While it definitely still happens, there are sufficient safeguards in place to give most recruiters a fighting chance to reclaim their rightful fees.
In summary, the solutions are pretty common sense. Just remember the rule of the five P’s: Proper planning prevents poor performance. (Yes, there’s a six P’s version of that phrase, too…) With a small amount of preparation, you can build workflows that are resilient against exploitative practices.
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