To MV or not to MV – That is the Question

Posted on Friday, December 2, 2016 by Venn GroupNo comments

Any local government contractor or line manager who hires interim staff will be more than familiar with the variations of the public sector recruitment process. Most of the County Councils and larger local government organisations use a Managed/Master/ Neutral Vendor (MV) whereby a temporary vacancy is released to all signed-up agencies via an online recruitment system. However, a large number of Councils across the UK still recruit interim staff the traditional way, by speaking with a selected agent or two, and handling the process themselves. As a recruiter, I hear continuous feedback on the benefits and pitfalls of both sides of the recruitment process, be that directly, or on an MV, therefore I wanted to discuss the pros and cons of both.

MV Recruitment – Advantages

Many of the larger Councils and all of the London Boroughs use a Neutral or Master Vendor to handle their recruitment. There appear to be three main reasons for why they do this:

  1. Cost – Signing agencies up to a fixed pence margin or a percentage  means there are significant savings across the Council
  2. Speed – The line manager adds the role to the recruitment portal and it is simultaneously released to all agencies who are signed up, which means that there is an urgency for agencies to send CVs as quickly as possible
  3. Fairness – When all the roles are released at the same time, there is an equal and fair recruitment process across all agencies

MV Recruitment – Disadvantages

  1. Lack of clarity – Sometimes the job descriptions lack key details on the role. As it is a hard and fast rule that there is no contact with line managers it may prove difficult to clarify key points of the job description in order to send the best candidates.
  2. Feedback – This can often be a “yes or no” with regards to whether a candidate was successful or not following an interview and there may be a lack of constructive feedback. This makes it difficult to assist candidates with how they could improve on their next interview and can damage the brand of the hiring company.
  3. SLAs/Targets – Agencies may have to send a certain number of CVs in order to fulfil a “CV sent” criteria, therefore candidates may be submitted who are not relevant to the role, which means recruiting line managers have to review irrelevant CVs. Using the management or interim executive category can minimise the risk or irrelevant CVs being sent because the agencies on these categories are bespoke and they do the shortlisting process in advance.

Direct Recruitment – Advantages

  1. Information – Dealing with the line manager directly means that the agencies have more of a thorough understanding of the role which results in more closely matched CVs being submitted.
  2. Timeframes  Setting agreed timeframes for CVs submission, feedback and arranging interviews means that the agent is able to maintain more control over candidate availability and results in a more efficient process.
  3. Shortlisting – Agencies will expeditiously  shortlist the CVs being sent so that they are tailored to the role.

Direct Recruitment – Disadvantages

  1. Equality – Some of the councils may use their favourite recruitment agencies but they can miss out on suitable candidates.
  2. Cost – Agencies who have signed up to an MV will have pre-agreed the rates, however if the recruitment is done directly these rates are not set in stone so have to be renegotiated each time there is a vacancy. A way to combat this is the line manager to stipulate the maximum hourly or daily rate for the role.
  3. Budget – A role may take longer to fill because the line manager may have looked at CVs, interviewed the candidate and offered them, without ever having had the budget signed off, whereas a vacancy that is released onto an MV has already had the finances agreed so there is no hold up on the budget  when an offer is made.


As you can see, there are a number of pros and cons of either recruiting through a Master /Neutral Vendor or directly with the agencies. Councils must be diligent in using a recruitment process that is best suited for that particular organisation’s needs, but hopefully this content provides some clarity on the advantages and disadvantages of using both. So, MV or not MV… well that is up to each Council to decide!

Jade Gorrod – Venn Group

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