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Vendors (Recruiting Ecology II)

(February 8, 2007)
Vendors. You can almost hear the sneer as if it were implicit in the word. Vendors. You get an image of a cranky popcorn seller in the cheap seats on a hot July afternoon. Vendors. The overtones imply lower forms of moral character. Vendors. The ill-mannered louts. Vendors. Keep you hand on your wallet, one's a comin' by. Vendors. Can't live with 'em and you can't shoot 'em. Vendors.

We used to have a good deal of fun putting Recruiters from HR and their 3rd Party counterparts together for a day. Uniformly, the 3rd Party staffing people were more results oriented, more technically savvy and really bewildered by the uniform disdain they experienced from their HR brethren. The HR people were savage in their characterizations of the 3rd party people as rude, arrogant, disruptive and out of synch. On party busses, the two groups would end up segregated, one at the front, the other at the back.

A vendor is someone who supplies a partially finished good to the next person in the supply chain. Only the raw material (candidates) and the end user (hiring manager) are free from the vendor distinction. This is the foundation of supply chain management.

The funny thing about vendors is they set standards of customer service and satisfaction. We're sure that much of the moaning about vendors in the HR community is a perverse form of jealousy. Suppliers of goods and services to HR and instead of HR do some great work. Freed from the internal constraints usually applied to the in-house team, external members of the supply chain can do things that are simply impossible internally.

While it's normal for smaller operations to polarize the world into the vendor/not vendor dichotomy, the truly great HR Departments are more interested in delivering optimal value to their customers than they are in who does the work. If you are dealing with an HR function that is obsessing on this distinction, it tells you more about their size and sophistication than it does about vendors as a class.

The world of Recruiting is like a soccer field with Hiring Managers on one end and Candidates on the other. Everyone else is in the middle providing communications links, services, software and so on. If you are not a hiring manager or a candidate, you are a vendor.

That's why you outsource Recruiting before you outsource the Hiring Manager.

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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