Why use a recruitment agency?

Why use a recruitment agency?

Why should you use a recruitment agency when it seems like there are so many cheaper alternatives which work just as well?

A “free” job ad is never free

When you first look at it, placing a free job ad online, particularly on social media makes a lot of sense. It doesn’t cost you any money, you see every person that applies, you get to make your own shortlist and then interview all the applicants people who seem good on paper.

But this also means that you have to see every suitable person that applies, you have to make your own shortlist and then you have to interview people who look good on paper. Something like 90% of people that apply to online job ads are using the “spray and pray” approach by applying to every ad they see. If you have all the time in the world to spare, or if you can schedule time to waste then you should continue to use this method – if it is actually getting you the right talent.

However, once you start to weight the success of this method against the time taken then working with a recruitment agency is already starting to look like a better option.

Of course, a recruitment agency isn’t the solution to all your recruitment needs but having an agency as a partner is a highly effective part of your hiring mix.

What does a recruiter actually do?

A recruiters’ main responsibility is to source the best possible candidates for employers. The recruitment agency you choose should have plenty of expertise and experience of getting the best results for their clients.

In a way, engaging a recruitment agency is like making an investment which gives you economies of scale, you immediately have a team of specialists working on the job search and access to a large, established pool of talent and a huge network. Building all this yourself would take a huge amount of time and resources.

Candidate selection and screening

As a first step the consultant you meet will ask you about your company culture and values. They’ll also ask about your “perfect hire,” including what sorts of skills, experience and attitudes you are looking for. The recruiter will guide you with questions aimed at working out the sort of person who will be successful in the role.

By getting a good understanding your needs, recruiters can screen each candidate, not only for their skills but to see if their personality will match comfortably in your company.

‘Selling’ your job to the candidate

The recruiter will also ask for as much information about your business as possible because when they meet candidates who are suitable for the job, they can effectively “sell” the role to them. This is particularly important with passive candidates and they might need this extra effort from the recruiter before being presented to you as a candidate.

Keeping the candidate pipeline flowing

Once the recruiter has some people ready for you, they show you their profiles and help you understand what makes each person special. You decide who to interview and the consultant will coordinate calls and interviews. The consultant should ensure the candidate is equipped for each interview, but in return the recruiter will look for feedback on each candidate after each interview. Recruiters do this so that they can adjust who they send next.

Recruiting in-house vs using a recruitment agency

So now that you know what a recruiter does your next thought is probably, “Well my staff and I can do all that.” Yes, you can, but how well you can do it and whether you should be doing it are the questions you need to ask yourself.

Think about opportunity cost of the time committed to recruitment

On one level the actual work of a recruiter seems pretty straightforward. What is not immediately clear though is how time-consuming it is if you do everything yourself, particularly if you’re not experienced in hiring.

If you are in HR, then your training means that you can do a lot of the process on your own. For most managers however, hiring is a huge burden on their time, and perhaps more importantly, it creates a significant opportunity cost by taking them away from their area of expertise.

If you plan to do it all yourself be prepared to give up a lot of time. You need to commit to researching and writing the job description, researching the best media to reach your desired candidates and then posting ads and promoting them. When CVs start arriving you will need to screen all of them, schedule interviews, hold the interviews, give feedback to candidates, then schedule more interviews, and finally if all goes well, carry out salary negotiations and make a job offer.

All companies need to consider seriously the cost of managers’ time spent on recruitment, whether this time is actually being spent wisely and effectively and whether engaging an agency would not actually be cheaper and more effective.

What are the benefits of doing your recruitment in-house?

Of course, recruitment agencies are not the solution to every recruitment problem. In fact, there are some things that you should probably always do in-house. Some reasons for in-house recruitment are:

  • Judging cultural fit can be best done by the team working inside the company culture.
  • You might meet someone that’s not right for any currently open role, but who looks like a great cultural fit, you can go back to this person later when a suitable role opens
  • You stay in control of the process from end to end.
  • You can rely on internal referrals – introductions to potential candidates from current employees. These are a great way to hire people, not just because the current employee is likely to be a good judge of cultural fit, but also because they’re responsible for introducing that person and are unlikely to introduce someone weak since it’s their reputation on the line as well.

So how do you get the recruitment agency and in-house mix right?

You should try to have balanced mix. If you’re hiring for positions where the candidates are hard to find then you should probably use a recruitment agency more. If you already have a strong employer brand, you might not need recruiters because you’re get lots of strong referrals and you have a steady supply of unsolicited CVs.

Of course, you should evaluate when and how you should use a recruitment agency. Consider the following:

  • Do you have lots of spare time each week to dedicate to hiring? Is that time better spent elsewhere?
  • How strong is your brand? Should you try getting internal referrals first?
  • How specialist is the role? People with narrow specialist skills often don’t look at job ads so you’re unlikely to reach them with a job board approach.
  • How in demand is the role? Does your employer brand strength help you recruit for this role?
  • Do you actually enjoy carrying out the recruitment process for your company?
  • When you evaluate your in-house recruitment can you say that it is a success and bringing the right talent to your organisation? If not, then you know what you should be doing!


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