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Picking a Recruitment Partner

Posted By APSO, 06 June 2013
Updated: 06 June 2013

Choosing a recruitment agency is an important decision, after all, the agency is an extension of your company in the minds of candidates and you definitely don’t want desirable candidates to be turned off by their interactions with your recruiter.

Partnering with the right agency should save you time, ensure that you’re able to source the best candidates who wouldn’t be accessible to you via other means, and guide and assist you throughout the hiring process.

When one considers that the vast majority of the skilled workforce is not actively looking for a new job, you must ensure that your chosen recruitment partner is able to access the best people in the field, not just those who are unhappy and have sent their CV out everywhere. In order to do this, you have to form a strategic partnership with a well connected, experienced recruiter who can bring in the talent necessary to transform your business.

Because there are currently no, or very low barriers to entry, there are literally thousands of individuals and companies claiming to be recruitment consultants. How do you choose from the myriad of options that all appear to be the same if you listen to their rehearsed telephone sales pitches or read their generic company profiles?

For most businesses, appointing a recruitment agency usually comes down to the following four factors: 

  • Cost
  • Time
  • Quality of candidates
  • Advertising reach, i.e. who is their audience

Whilst these are common factors that should always be considered, the real debate is how you weight the factors – at the end of the day, it should always be about getting results!

An HR Officer recently told me, "Criteria important to me are cost, quality of candidate, turnaround time, and reputation for successfully placing candidates into regular positions.”

Whilst cost is important, you should rather measure your recruitment partner on other factors to more accurately determine the return on investment before simply choosing to do business with the agency that is prepared to charge you the least. Some key factors to be considered include:

Quality Recruitment Consultants

The quality of the individual recruiters working within the recruitment company will directly influence the success rate of finding, and securing, the best talent available. 

Do you feel comfortable talking to the recruiter, do they seem intelligent and do they have a genuine interest in understanding your business to ensure a good fit, not just of technical competence but also of culture fit within your business context?

Do they demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the current job market and do they utilize this information to make suggestions to you on how you can improve your recruitment and selection process to attract the top talent?

How does your recruiter interact with candidates?

Do they have a professional, honest and consistent process for candidate management?

And most importantly, do you believe that your recruiter operates ethically and honestly and will be a good brand ambassador for your company?

Recruitment Methodology

Not all agencies can be compared. Unless you ask what the agency’s recruitment methodology is, you might unfairly be comparing apples with oranges. Many "recruitment agencies” rely heavily on advertising and utilizing job portals to simply source a CV to send directly to the client, but this can be detrimental to clients who are looking to source candidates who are not actively in the market or who have been already been considered by all and sundry, including your competitors.

Ask the agency to fully explain their methodology including advertising, sourcing and networking to find suitable candidates. Do you know for sure how candidates are screened before they’re submitted to you for consideration? Don’t assume that all agencies interview candidates face-to-face, verify information contained on the CV and conduct reference checks. Check that you’re happy with the screening process and the level of information that is being provided to you so that you can effectively ascertain whether or not to bring a candidate in for an interview.

APSO member agencies are bound by the APSO Code of Ethical and Professional Practice which prescribes minimum service levels in terms of client and candidate service. If you choose to work with an APSO member and you’re unhappy with the level of service, you have recourse via the APSO Ethics complaint process.

Specialism & Experience

Does the agency specialise in the area you’re recruiting? It is perfectly reasonable to make use of several agencies for different areas of your business to ensure that you’re dealing with a recruiter who fully understands the environment in which the candidate will be working and who can leverage their networks in this area to source the best talent available for a specific vacancy.

Have they got a proven track record of previous success in placing candidates in this field? Working with a specialist recruiter means that you have a recruitment partner who knows the right people to contact and who can appreciate the technical and business nuances that will contribute to making a successful hire.

"A key criteria for me when choosing a recruitment provider is whether they have the business maturity to interpret the company’s Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and turn that into a compelling dialogue that will attract more of the right sorts of people for us to interview,” says a Marketing Manager responsible for recruitment of staff for his department.

Reputable & Referenceable

A good recruitment agency should be able to provide you, if asked, with strong testimonials from companies in similar industries who have made use of their service. Consider querying your own network about whether they’re aware of the agency’s work and reputation.

Personal Service

Your recruiter should provide you with personal service and this means you should have a designated single point of contact within the agency who you feel is always available and approachable. You should have open channels of communication that are direct and not driven through email. You should feel confident that your recruiter fully understands your business and the associated requirements of the respective positions so that they only send candidates who they know are a match. Furthermore your recruiter should be available to assist you with the full process, including providing guidance on setting up interview questions and even joining in on panel interviews.

A leading corporate Recruitment Manager says, "I tend to prefer external recruitment providers who know how to run an intelligent campaign, who take ownership of the vacancy or project and who I trust will source the right candidates.”

Terms of Business

Utilizing external recruitment providers can be very costly, but there are usually many different fee options available to clients who are willing to work with the agency. Many agencies are willing to offer reduced rates to clients who offer them exclusivity or who work with them on a continued, retained basis.

Above all, companies should remember that they will get the best possible return from their recruitment company if they are treated as partners rather than transactional suppliers. To this end, you should always be sure to invest the time to brief your recruiter to ensure that they have an in-depth understanding of your business and requirement so that you will receive the level of service you want. A close working relationship between recruiter and client has been proven to improve hiring success.

Tags:  advertising  APSO  cost  CV  ethics  preferred supplier listing  quality  recruiter  recruitment methodology  sourcing  verification 

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