How to Prevent Backdoor Hires from Happening

Has a client ever gone behind your back and hired your candidate directly just to dodge your fee? Whether you’ve been victim to this or not, backdoor hires happen – and it’s not just the recruiter who suffers from this shady move! Let’s take a look at why backdoor hires happen, why they’re bad news for everyone involved, and what you can do to stop them.

Why backdoor hires are bad news for everyone

Ok, so it’s pretty obvious why backdoor hires are a nightmare for any recruiter! But have you thought about why they can terrible for your candidates and (ironically) your backstabbing client too?

Why they’re bad news for candidates:

man peeking through door keyholeIf a candidate agrees to push you out of the picture – or worse still, they go straight to your client of their own accord – they become a problem candidate that recruiters won’t want to work with again.

Working with a recruiter is no financial burden on them, so why leapfrog us on the way to the job?

It’s also worth asking the candidate if they’d really want to work for an employer who goes to lengths and takes reputational risks just to avoid paying money for a service. Do employers like this behave respectfully and recognise value? Is the company financially stable if they’re so desperate to cut corners? And if a candidate is being asked to lie before they even start a new role, where does the dishonesty stop?

Why they’re bad news for clients:

Whilst a backdoor hire might seem like a good way for the client to save a quick buck, it’s likely to cost them a lot more in the long-run. It’s easy for us to find out when a backdoor hire has happened, and this often results in a situation where the we're all in the middle of an awkward legal battle within the candidate's first 6 months of starting their new job. Not a great start!

man standing by door with gun memeIf there’s an audit trail and proof of interviews, the client will be billed for the maximum fee – which can be up to 30% in some cases. And with a serious skills shortage at the moment, clients need our valuable agency networks to fill those difficult roles, not burn bridges in a world where people talk!

Any recruiter immersed in a niche market will smell a rat very early on - it’s our job to keep an eye on where candidates are working so backdoors will never go unnoticed.

How to prevent back door hires from happening

So now that we’ve established that backdoor hires are a terrible idea for everyone involved, let’s dive into some practical advice – what can you do to stop them from happening?

  1. Make sure your hiring manager relationships are tight

    This will be a tough pill to swallow for some who’ve been victim of a backdoor hire before, but if your relationship with the hiring manager is good enough, they won’t go behind your back – simple as that!

    Do everything you can to ensure communication is as effective as it can be, manage their expectations and value will be naturally built into your relationship.  
  1. Send over high-quality candidates

    If you’re sending over candidates to your clients who are already all over job boards, you’re increasing the risk of a backdoor hire taking place.

    Clients pay us a fee to source candidates that they can’t find themselves! Show them you’re a valuable resource with insights into the market that your client can’t access alone, and that you hold the key to a top-class engaged candidate network that they would benefit from tapping into. 

    In short, make yourself indispensable to your clients and you won’t have to worry about them selling you short.
  1. Create candidate loyalty

    If there’s a recruiter-candidate disconnect there and the client approaches the candidate directly, they won’t hesitate to jump straight in and cut you out of the equation.

    Do what you can to show the candidate you’re on their side and that they’re not just a commodity. Go the extra mile (send them valuable content, prepare them for interview, give them tips to improve their CVs, etc.) and explain the next steps clearly so that they know what to expect and when.

    If you actually listen to your what your candidates have to say and only present them for jobs they want to do with companies they want to work for, they’ll respect you more.
  2. Maximise your CRM

    Dedicated software to search and prevent backdoor hires does exist, but maximising a good CRM can stop them from happening too.

    For example, you can easily run a search on any CV that was sent out to a client from your database, and if the candidate was hired within 12 months of them receiving it, start asking questions! You can also cross-match all your CVs sends with their LinkedIn profile every 6 months.
  3. Cover yourself

    As backdoor hires enter legal territory, it pays off to cover all bases with a full audit trail, including evidence of interviews with all your candidates.

    Include a PDF of your terms each time you email your client about a candidate, and always agree terms before you send on any candidate CVs! 

One way to guarantee your candidates won't do the dirty on you is to do your bit in prepping them for interview with your client. Your input at this stage can go a long way in securing that placement, and ensuring you're paid for it too! Download the eBook below for tips on how to approach this.

How to Prep a Candidate for Guaranteed Interview Success

Alan McFadden

Alan is the Associate Director of Growth at Firefish. An agency recruiter in a former life, he loves helping recruiters find ways to recruit smarter.

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