Don’t sling it over the fence! Working with TPR’s…

Full Disclosure:
I’ve been on both sides of the desk in my career, TPR (3rd party Recruiter, agency, whatever you call it) and the corporate recruiting side. I have sympathy and affinity for both, though working on the corporate side, I LOVE not working 90 hours a week. 🙂

We don’t use alot of outside firms where I work, because, well we’re lucky to have 3 strong recruiters who all have agency experience and know a variety of sourcing techniques. That said, there comes a time where you have to use them, whether it is due to position overload, or just general need for more help on a hard search. I was reading an article today from Leah Ward and she really makes a great point on how to interact with your TPR’s.

If you are just farming out jobs to 10 agencies at a time, you’ll likely not only NOT fill the spot in a timely fashion or at all, but you will almost inevitably drive yourself crazy in the interim. Sifting through resumes from TPR’s takes alot of time, and unless you make the investment up front, you’ll likely not get what you are looking for.

When I take time to farm out a position, I have a short list of TPR’s that I trust, and know can get the job done. But, req’s don’t fill themselves. You need to disseminate down what you are looking for in the ideal candidate (and yes, GIVE THE WISH LIST TOO!). You can’t play the information-secret game. They want to fill your spot, and you do too. I’ve even found it helpful at times to have them come and meet with the hiring manager directly, getting it right from the source as well.

Set ground rules too, as Leah states. If you commit to responding to a resume in 24 hours, DO IT. Being a former TPR, nothing makes me work on something less than lack of response. And provide feedback – let them know why it wasn’t a fit, i.e., the candidate is a job hopper, they couldn’t answer basic technical questions, whatever. You wouldn’t take no for an answer about your resume or job interview without a reason, right?

So, what are you doing? Are you setting expectations, or are you slinging req’s over the fence in the hopes that the right candidate will be slung back? Not likely.

Share what you are doing to make sure you get the most bang for your 20+ %.

Time invested, saves time.

Time invested, saves time.

Bookmark and Share

8 Comments on “Don’t sling it over the fence! Working with TPR’s…

  1. Pete,

    You are obviously in the minority when it comes to working with recruiters and I commend you for that. From my PERSONAL EXPERIENCE (READ IT AGAIN BEFORE GOING OFF ON A RANT), most internal recruiters view TPRs as a threat. They also feel that the less information and access they provide a TPR, the more control they will have. BULLSHIT. The exact opposite is true. You force a good TPR into a box and they will simply take the initiative that is sorely lacking in internal recruiting groups and go directly to the hiring authority for answers. The end result will be the HA partnering directly with the TPR and keeping his assigned recruiter out of the loop since his/her experience so far with the internal recruiting group is marginal at best.

    On the flip side, I have had a few RARE occurrences where the internal recruiter was very experienced, knew his organization and his internal clients well, knew what a good search process consisted of and the results that could be achieved, and wanted a partner to take some of the load of his shoulders. It was a collaborative effort based on mutual professional respect that lead to many successful placements which he received tremendous visibility for.


  2. Bill, you make a great point, and highlight some of the CLASSIC mistakes of Corporate Recruiters. If you play the “mine, mine” game, you start a war of wills. Agencies can be great resources for partnering, and the smart ones take advantage of that unique opportunity to partner with a company.

    For me, I know my internal clients well, and as I mentioned, giving the TPR the access to meet a manager is OK with me. That said, I also establish some guidelines like going through me for submissions, etc. It’s a trust factor. I trust that they will respect our relationship and process, and they trust I’m going to provide quick, detailed feedback as well as delivery to managers ASAP.

    Thanks for the comment!


  3. Pete,
    Some additional insight from the TPR side…we truly want to make it as easy for the client as possible! I know that may seem hard to believe, but it’s true. The biggest battle in working with new clients is establishing credibility; they think we won’t listen and don’t actually care about their needs. Understandably so, we all know agencies don’t have the best reputation, but you need to give us a chance and do so with an open mind.

    My goal in working with a new client is ALWAYS to schedule an onsite meeting with the recruiter, hiring manager or technical team member- essentially anyone involved with the hiring process. This is beneficial for both my candidates and my internal recruiters. I solely focus on permanent positions and candidates always want to know what the environment is like, team dynamic, management style, etc. No one wants to commit to a perm job without the company background. Unfortunately, I cannot provide this information if I’ve never been to the client site or even had one conversation with the hiring manager. On the other end, when I return to the office from a great client meeting amped up and with a breadth of knowledge about that client my recruiters get excited to work on my jobs!! Some recruiters are hesitant to work on new client reqs because we don’t know the process and we don’t know if this is a role that will actually move. If they see the client is willing to take the time to meet with me and share their company info/culture they know it’s a req worth working on! It’s nice to hear you welcome this idea from a corporate recruiting standpoint.

    I encourage corporate recruiters to set the ground rules, give us the wish list…the more details the better! For the most part corporate recruiters who come from an agency background are willing to do these things because they know what it’s like to be in our shoes. Some are just soooo bitter they want nothing to do with you. The bottom line is for some craaaaazy reason we will work the 90 hour weeks to fill your jobs, but in order to effectively do so we need your guidance.


  4. Agreed Katie, and it’s nice to have the staffing point of view. I know as a TPR I had a much easier time buying into and also selling to my candidates why they wanted to work there – things that I could get excited about!

    Sounds like you know how to work well with those corporate recruiters who need the nudge!


  5. Some, interesting thoughts on processes here. Initially, I have worked with Pete on a couple of occasions and can confirm that Process is the most important aspect of any relationship between TPR & internal recruiter. It is in a TPR’s nature to push for sole contact within a client organisation and is usually taught on Day 1 of any given training programme. This has its uses, however is usually put in place as HR departments acting as Ad-hoc recruiters are usually (Not always the case) not qualified for hiring candidates at a mid-senior level. The key requirements are fluffy at best and feedback on average takes over a week – which is why a good number of TPR’s have an ‘avoid at all cost’ attitude. This extends in some minds to include internal recruiters in the same ‘box’. This is a misconception as internal recruiters do add value to a process if as previously mentioned know their internal clients and their specific requirements. Good internal recruiters are hard to find however the relationships built with internal recruiters who know their business adds an exceptional level of value to the recruitment process in terms of co-ordination of hiring managers. Pete is right in saying that using Multiple TPR’s is ineffective. To give a prime example I am currently working on opportunities at two ends of the spectrum. One with a client who uses myself. and at most 1 other recruiter. The process is quick and has taken two weeks from start to finish to complete. On the other side, an alternate client has 7 recruiters working for him, every major consultancy has been ‘briefed'(and i use the word loosely) on the position and has spoken to a number of candidates each. The result is 40 Cv’s on his desk, most unqualified and will need extensive internal short listing to complete. The hiring manager, now overwhelmed with response has held 20+ first stages and has taken 2 months to get to short listing for 2nd interviews. This is by no means ideal and re-iterates why organisations should clearly use a maximum of 1-3 TPR’s. All TPR’s should be used on the calibre of their last couple of assignments and should be reconsidered regularly to ensure competitiveness and avoid complacency. In overview, the TPR/Internal recruiter is a relationship to be respected and is based on free flow of quality information at all stages and combined with a willingness to work together and develop trust and should not be bypassed for short term gain but instead should be nurtured for long term benefits.


  6. Great stuff James. You have a unique perspective of having to see both sides now. Clearly we know which is more effective. I think as roles become more specialized and HR departments continue to evolve into talent agents/managers, we may start to see a shift. That said, there will always be the outliers.

    Thanks for the comment. Cheers!


  7. My first recruiting job was with a NoVa-based search firm and the head of the firm said something that has always stuck with me, ‘our clients should only come to us to help them fill their needs when they can’t do it themselves’.

    I have preached this ever since in every corporate recruiting role that I have been in. TPRs are not the enemy, rather they need to be used selectively, and you should build relationships with them to act as true partners in the process.


    • Indeed Ben – they are not the enemy. They can, in fact, help you look wonderful in the eyes of your company, as a shrewd negotiator, and selector of partners. Thanks for the comment!


Got a comment? Leave it below....

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: