MV or no MV - That is the Question

Posted on Friday, March 22, 2019 by Jade GorrodNo comments


Any local government contractor or hiring manager 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 as to 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. This generates an urgency for agencies to send CVs as quickly as possible, in order to secure the representation of the best candidates.
  3. Fairness –The fact that roles are released to every agency at the same time means the process is equal and fair for all.

MV Recruitment – Disadvantages

  1. Lack of clarity – Sometimes the job descriptions lack key details on the role. As it is a strict rule that there is no contact with line managers, it may prove difficult to clarify key points of the job description that enable agencies to send the best candidates.
  2. Feedback – The response tends to be merely a yes or no with regards to whether a candidate was successful or not following an interview, meaning there can be a lack of constructive feedback. Not only does this make it difficult to advise candidates on how they could improve for their next interview, but it can also 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 necessarily a perfect fit for the role, wasting the time of hiring managers. However, this risk is minimised when hiring within the management or interim executive categories, because the agencies who work within these areas are bespoke and conduct the shortlisting process in advance.

Direct Recruitment – Advantages

  1. Information – Dealing with the line manager directly means that the agencies have a thorough understanding of the role, which results in more appropriate CVs being submitted.
  2. Timeframes – Setting agreed timeframes for CV submission, feedback and arranging interviews means that the agent is able to maintain closer control over candidate availability, ensuring an efficient process.
  3. Shortlisting – Not having to fill set number quotas as a formality means that agencies can expeditiously shortlist the CVs that are to be submitted. They will therefore be completely tailored to the role, thus saving line managers significant time.

Direct Recruitment – Disadvantages

  1. Equality – Some councils may opt to use their personal preferred recruitment agencies, but this can result in them missing out on suitable candidates.
  2. Rate discrepancy – 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. This means that they will have to be renegotiated each time there is a vacancy. A way to combat this is for the line manager to stipulate the maximum hourly or daily rate for the role at the very start of the process, utilising their recruitment agency’s advice based on the current market.
  3. Budget – In some circumstances there can be a delay in a candidate starting in a role because the line manager has considered CVs, interviewed candidates and extended an offer without ever having had the budget signed off. Alternatively, where a vacancy is released onto an MV the finances have already been agreed, so there is no interruption once an offer is made.

As you can see, there are a number of pros and cons for both recruiting through a Master/Neutral Vendor or directly with agencies. Councils must be diligent in using a recruitment process that is best suited for their particular business needs, but hopefully this overview provides some clarity on the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

So, MV or no MV…well that is up to each council to decide!


Article written by Jade Gorrod

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