Why MSPs Almost Ruined Recruiting For Me


I started recruiting in the wonderful world of MSPs. If you’re not familiar, MSP stands for Managed Service Provider and in our industry they are outsourced teams brought in to manage a company’s workforce, often through the use of a Vendor Management System (VMS). The VMS is basically a website that manages all aspects of labor and is used by all parties involved..

For this rant I’ll simplify but essentially workforce is broken down to two types of workers, full-time employees and contract/contingent workers. Full-time employees (FTEs) are what we think of when we think of a job, whereas the emergence of contractors is a relatively new concept. What initially started off in IT for project-based assignments (where it didn’t make sense to hire an FTE for a short period of time) has evolved into a system where a lot of roles that traditionally filled by internal full-time employees are now being replaced by contractors. Contractors initially come on board for an initial established period of time and once that is up, they either extend or roll off and their assignment ends. They are not employees but are typically W2 employees of an agency. There are lots of reasons why companies use contractors but that can be saved for another post(s).

When a hiring manager releases a requisition into the VMS, it typically is sent out to a predetermined list of agencies who support that labor type. These agencies will then distribute it to their teams of recruiters. Now recruiters are responsible for utilizing their resources to find and secure viable candidates and submit them into the VMS for consideration. From there, the MSP team coordinates everything from resume qualifying, interview set up, rates and other accounting related items and onboarding.

This is Where it Sucks

One thing to note is the fact that these agency lists can vary in size. Some clients have lists that are 3 and others have 70+! Now, just think about that for a second. This is a crucial concept to soak in so let’s break it down so you can fully appreciate the magnitude of this disaster. If every agency on the list had say, 3 recruiters who were working on that job, that would be over 200 recruiters all competing for the same candidate pool. This is why when a job is released and your resume is online, anyone who is even remotely qualified (and a lot who aren’t) will get bombarded with calls, texts and emails.

So, as a recruiter, knowing that you’re competing with literally hundreds of other recruiters with a finite pool of candidates, it can be a little discouraging. The good recruiters know that in order to survive you have to be fast and organized. That means when job comes out if you’re not reaching out within 2 minutes you’re too late. There are often times where the first person I called had already been called by 2 other recruiters and their phone would be ringing while on the call.

So if you were lucky enough to procure a candidate (luck plays a role in this if you hadn’t already picked up on it) you now get to send the resume over to the client using the VMS tool. Most VMSs limit you to a certain # of submissions (2 or 3 usually), so let’s extend our numbers here to get an idea of what your candidate is up against. If 70 agencies each submitted 2 candidates, that means that your resume is competing against 139 other resumes. If all things were equal (which they most certainly are NOT), your resume would have 1/140th chance getting the hire. that is less than 1% chance.

Realistically, there are usually around 10–15 agencies that dedicate resources to accounts, and with most requisitions you are competing against 30–50 other resumes. While not as daunting, 50 candidates is still a 2% chance of placement. That means a recruiter has to submit 50 resumes to get one placement. Now I can get into these metrics but for the sake of this post, I’ll just say that it takes about 20 calls for a recruiter to get a candidate to submit. Each call a recruiter has to do the needful, utilizing his or her resources to call qualified as quickly as they can before the other recruiters beat them to the punch. I’ll continue to hyper generalize here but if your goal is to get 3 hires a month, you need to have 150 resume submissions a month. That equals 3000 candidate touches a month and if you were to assume 20 days in a month is 150 calls a day. This creates a HUGE focus on the frontline activity that is absolutely critical just to stay afloat.

A successful recruiter understands activity yields results and making sure we hit and/or exceed our daily/weekly/monthly goals is an absolute must. Years ago I embraced this model and was quite successful at it. However, as time went on I began to see just how these programs are terrible for everyone involved.