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James Serra's Blog

James is a big data and data warehousing technology specialist at Microsoft. He is a thought leader in the use and application of Big Data technologies, including MPP solutions involving hybrid technologies of relational data, Hadoop, and private and public cloud. Previously he was an independent consultant working as a Data Warehouse/Business Intelligence architect and developer. He is a prior SQL Server MVP with over 30 years of IT experience. James is a popular blogger (JamesSerra.com) and speaker, having presented at dozens of PASS events including the PASS Business Analytics conference and the PASS Summit. He is the author of the book “Reporting with Microsoft SQL Server 2012”. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

A placement firm’s “guaranteed” replacement

I have heard large placement firms say they are better than smaller firms because “They offer the client a guaranteed replacement in case the resource doesn’t work out or leaves project early “.  I asked my recruiter friend about this.  His response:

You can look at it that statement two ways:

(1) For those with a “glass is half-full” attitude, it shows a firm is committed and won’t leave you hanging if their resource leaves an assignment early, and that they will replace the person if they leave early so you won’t feel any disruption in service

(2) For those that are a little more cynical – it is a sneaky way for the firm to set themselves up for a bait & switch by saying that they’ll replace the person that leaves as they ALREADY KNOW their person is going to leave and they are trying to put a classy spin on it.  Push back on this firm by asking them for either (1) a 90-day warranty period (meaning you don’t pay until their candidate has lasted at least 90 days) or (2) a money back guarantee if their person leaves early

I’d only trust that guarantee as far as I could throw the person who made it (unless you know the firm REALLY well and they are a first class organization).  Otherwise it is all talk and also sets up the firm to pull some smoke and mirrors bait & switch on you.  I’m very leery of this type of a guarantee (if you can’t tell by the tone of my response).

Two comments from me:

(1) But what firm would not offer a “guarantee”?  Just common sense they would look for another resource if theirs left early since they want to continue to make money on a resource.  As opposed to a firm saying “we want nothing to do with you if our resource leaves early so contact another placement company”

(2) Couldn’t this also be a sneaky way for the firm to place a consultant who stinks, hoping the client won’t complain.  If they don’t complain, great, you are making money off a crappy consultant.  If they do complain, no problem, you just go and find a better consultant

Isn’t the guarantee really more helpful to the firm because the client is guaranteeing them they will continue to use them and not switch to another firm if their consultant does not work out?

And my recruiting friends response:

Your last sentence sums it up perfectly.

As for your first point, I personally don’t guarantee a replacement.  I give a 90-day warranty that if my person doesn’t last that long, then the client owes nothing.  I’m hesitant to offer the guarantee as some skill sets are harder to find that others.  And I don’t want to mislead anyone that I’ll be able to pull a rabbit out of my hat twice if a skill set is really scarce.  It is more about managing expectations than avoiding responsibility.

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