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Ask Lawrence: What is 'floating'?

26 Sep 12:00 By Lawrence Akers

Lawrence Akers floating recruitment industry

I have to admit that I feel like I’m walking on a fine line writing this blog today.  What I’m writing about today is something that is fundamental to the recruitment industry although it is something that has also been the source of confusion for both candidates and clients over the years. I’m referring to something that the industry refers to as ‘floating’.

If you’ve not heard of it before, you’re probably wondering what ‘floating’ is. Let me put it to you this way; when you go to a recruitment agency, what are you hoping that they’ll do? The most obvious answer is to find you work however the main way they’re going to do that is to present you out to their clients. Now if the agency is working purely in a reactive way, they’re going to be limited by the number of job opportunities that their clients give to them however, if they have a strong enough relationship with their clients and understand what their clients need, they can essentially present candidates across to them who they suspect are going to be of interest and value to their clients. That is ‘floating’.

Now, why would you not want to be presented out there? It’s much like someone setting up a LinkedIn profile and not wanting to be found. There is little point going onto a professional networking social media platform if your intention is not to be found; you could save that for Facebook instead. It’s the same here with recruitment agencies. If you’ve gone to meet with them, you would hope they’re going to use their networks, their skills and their experience to explore what opportunities may exist or may be created for you.

So why then does ‘floating’ cause so much confusion?

The terms and conditions around floating

One of the reasons why 'floating', also known as 'presenting', causes confusion is the terms and conditions that go around it. 

A candidate will go to a recruitment agency to tap into their network of clients. A client, feeling the pressure of a deadline or need that doesn't exist within his company, will go to the recruitment agency to find that required resource. It is ultimately those relationships that keep the recruitment agencies doors open and is part of its service offering.

Without terms and conditions in place, there would be nothing stopping someone from placing an order for a freelancer for two weeks and then a fortnight later, going back and offering them a permanent position directly. This would obviously be a massive financial loss for the recruitment agency who did the work of finding, qualifying and matching that candidate to the client's brief. 

With this in mind, the terms and conditions surrounding presentations are simply that, once a candidate has agreed to be represented by a recruitment agency, that agency holds the rights to that relationship for a period of 12 months from the date of presentation or from the last date of work. This is pretty much common place with every recruitment agency in Australia regardless of if they verbally state this to you or not. Go back and check your candidate terms and conditions, they'll be there.

This simply means that if the client comes to you and offers you any additional work within a 12 month period of that agency presenting you, it has to go through the agency.

Keeping a list and checking it twice

This also means that if a recruitment agency calls you and asks to present you to a client whom you've given permission to another agency to represent you, they will be unable to move forward with you. Nor will you be able to apply for a job directly yourself. 

For that reason, it is extremely important that you keep a list of who has represented you where and when. Without this, embarrassing situations are likely to occur.

What if I don't want to?

Of course, you don't have to agree to being represented by a recruitment agency anywhere and you're completely within your rights to ask only to be put forward for genuine job opportunities. However, this can often be a missed opportunity for all involved as well. What is actually more important here is being able to build a relationship with a recruitment consultant that you trust, who is transparent with you and who you know has your best interests in heart. I'll be upfront here, 'floats' are often a KPI requirement for many recruitment agencies out there and for some inexperienced consultants, it is going to be more about meeting their KPI's than about a genuine job strategy.

In other cases, the recruitment consultant might be using you as a 'foot in the door', and you might be absolutely fine with that too provided that your recruitment consultant is upfront and transparent with you about that and explains their strategy. If that is the case, it could be a win/win all round.

With so many factors to consider, it is important to be able to know what kind of questions to ask your consultant to determine if you wish to give your permission to be represented or not.

  • What kind of relationship do you have with this client and how long have you been working with them?
  • What kinds of roles have you filled for them recently?
  • What is the culture like in this company? (They should know if there is a real relationship!)
  • How many times has this client ordered from you over the past 12 months?

Ultimately, a little bit of questioning to determine what kind of relationship they have is going to save you from situations in the future where you feel like you backed the wrong horse and missed out on an opportunity. 

Lawrence Akers has been working in the creative recruitment industry for the past 14 years and is a Senior Consultant with Creative Recruiters. For more information on current available creative positions, follow us on LinkedIn and like our Facebook page.