How to effectively use recruitment agencies to hire talent

Thursday August 31st, 2017

Employment agencies: All they do is take a requirement, maybe post an advert online somewhere, and send over a handful of vaguely appropriate CVs, right?

Actually, this can – unfortunately – be absolutely true.

However, it tends to only really happen under two particular circumstances:

  1. The agency is volume-driven and commodity based. And why would you want to work with someone like that?
  2. There isn’t an effective RELATIONSHIP between the client and the recruitment agency – and that’s easy to put right.


We can’t do anything about the first option (other than suggesting you find another agency to work with), but we can begin to look at how an effective relationship between client and recruiter can add real value to the process of recruitment.

Below, we investigate ways in which everyone involved can benefit from an effective working arrangement.


1. The job description is more than just a description of the job

Any recruiter can work from a two-page summary of a role – but entrusting an agency with such an important task armed with nothing more than that document is doomed to fail. In the same way, you wouldn’t employ someone by solely looking at their 2-page CV, a recruiter can’t be expected to make informed choices on candidates armed with something equally as scant.

We advocate that clients invest time to ensure their employment agency really understand the context of their requirement, the role, the company culture, the team and group dynamic – as well as the obvious skills and expertise requirements.

Don’t forget that when recruiters speak to candidates they represent YOUR company – so the more they know about the role and organisation, the more they can ‘sell’ you to the job market. Who wouldn’t say no to some free advertising?!


2. A little trust goes a long way

All too often, we – as recruitment consultants – are constrained by hiring managers who don’t allow us to approach line managers directly.

Direct discussions with managers and team leaders go a long way towards helping recruiters understand the requirement and add value to the process.

Reputable recruitment agencies will always commit to keeping hiring managers and/or HR departments informed and in-the-loop.


3. Set a date

When vacancies are released, it’s surprising how many clients don’t attach deadlines or interview dates to the role. A deadline gives the recruiter (and candidates) a date to aim for, it also acts as a strong internal discipline and helps with project planning and budgeting.

Work with your recruitment consultant to select an interview date (strictly a range of interview dates, as one is always too restrictive) that is sensible, achievable and convenient.

A concrete date also proves to candidates that the vacancy is ‘real’ and not just a ploy to trawl the market for CVs. This, unfortunately, happens.


4. The best policy

The foundation of any business relationship is honesty.

It is still (unfortunately) the case that clients will fabricate roles to get information on market rates for benchmarking purposes.

Any worthwhile recruiter will give you that information without simultaneously running a fake job search which wastes everyone’s time – so it really pays to be honest and up-front with them.


5. You’ll soon grow into it

More of an issue with permanent, rather than contract, roles – but it’s always worth bearing in mind that it’s incredibly rare for someone to be a 100% fit for a particular role.

In our experience, it’s better to give someone – say – 20% leeway to grow and develop into a particular role. Your recruiter’s gut instinct that someone is right (even if it’s not explicit on their CV) is still very much worth listening to.


6. Don’t spread yourself too thin

Working with too many recruitment agencies can see candidates inundated with multiple calls about the same vacancy, and that doesn’t reflect well on the employer. A solid relationship with a recruitment agency, based on trust and understanding should negate the need for this ever to be a possibility.


7. You’re not the only game in town

We’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth remembering that candidates always have a choice. An interview (and the preceding recruitment process) is a great opportunity to sell your company as the place to work, and is just as much about their career decisions as your company’s vacancy.

Recruiters know this only too well, so their advice on handling individual candidates (especially those that they may know well) is invaluable.



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