What Do Recruiters Think About Working with a VMS?

In a recent blog post, Debbie Fledderjohann of Top Echelon Contracting presented “10 Pitfalls of Working with a Vendor Management System.” That post was based upon the experiences of TEC over the past two decades.

But what do recruiters think about working with a VMS?

Top Echelon Network is a split recruiting network comprised of 500 agencies and over 1,000 recruiters in the United States and Canada. The average tenure of a Network member in the recruiting profession is 15 years. So we thought, “Why not ask Network recruiters what they think about the subject?” So that’s exactly what we did.

Specifically, we conducted a poll of the Network membership. As part of that poll, we posed the following question:

How do you feel about working with a Vendor Management System (VMS)?

The choice of answers that we provided is listed below, along with the percentage of split network recruiters that selected each one:

  • I’ve never worked with one. — 40.2%
  • I love working with a VMS! — 0.0%
  • I’ve experienced no problems with them. — 17.6%
  • I’ve experienced problems with them. — 18.6%
  • “A VMS is the devil, Bobby Boucher!” — 23.5%

(Editor’s note: For those of you who don’t know, the last response is a variation of a line from the movie The Waterboy, starring Adam Sandler and Kathy Bates. As you might have already guessed, it carries with it an extremely negative connotation.)

As might be expected, quite a few recruiters have not worked with a VMS. In fact, over 40% of those who participated in the poll have not.

Of those who have worked with a VMS, not a single one of them indicated that they “love working with a VMS”! So there is no love lost between Top Echelon Network recruiters and Vendor Management Systems. There is apparently no love at all.

Now we get down to the nitty-gritty. About the same percentage of recruiters claimed that they’ve “experienced no problems with them” (17.6%) as indicated that they have “experienced problems with them” (18.6%).

That was the nitty; now for the gritty. Nearly one quarter of the Network recruiters participating in this poll chose “A VMS is the devil” as their answer (23.5%).

Now let’s do some simple math for even greater effect. Let’s take the 23.5% of recruiters who believe that a VMS is “the devil” and add that them to those who indicated they’ve “experienced problems” with a VMS. That brings us to 42.6%. What does that mean?

It means that of the approximately 60% of recruiters participating in this poll who have worked with a VMS, nearly 43% have a problem with them to some degree. It could just be that they’ve had problems with them. Or it could be that they believe a VMS is “the devil.”

Regardless of the degree, these recruiters believe that a Vendor Management System does not contribute in a positive fashion to their recruiting efforts and/or their agency. Once again, that’s over four out of every six. (When you eliminate the recruiters who have NOT worked with a VMS.)

As referenced in our previous blog post, there are certainly pitfalls involved if you’re a recruiter and you’re considering working with a VMS. Is the experience guaranteed to be a bad one? No, it’s not. But as you can see by the results of this poll, the experience is far from guaranteed to be a good one, either. And no matter what the experience is, the results of this poll seem to indicate that you will NOT love the experience.

What can be inferred from that? Perhaps that even if working with a VMS does not result in specific and/or quantifiable problems, the relationship could still be strained in some fashion. So even in those instances in which recruiters do not brand a VMS as “the devil” by recruiters, they might still deem it as a necessary evil.

That’s why recruiters must enter into any relationship with a VMS with their “eyes wide open.” They should NOT make assumptions. Instead, they should “dot their i’s and cross their t’s,” making sure to read and understand every document they’re signing at every step of the process.

Because once again, as stated in our previous blog post, working with a VMS as a recruiter can have less than favorable results. They include:

  • Excessive (and often overbearing) contract terms
  • Earning less money on placements that are made
  • Submitting candidates to what is essentially a “competitor” that may utilize those candidates again in the future

Once again, the bottom line is that working with a VMS can cost you and your recruiting agency time, energy, and money. If you’re looking to grow your business and increase your billings, then you can’t be in the habit of wasting those three valuable assets . . . can you?

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