Give a little, get a lot – how to get more out of your recruitment agencies?

Recruitment can be defined in the one phrase – “attain repeatable quality outcomes”.
Smart internal recruitment functions focus their efforts in areas that make a difference to their business (critical and scarce and critical and not scarce) and understand that owning these channels provides a competitive advantage.
However, there will be times when you need to work with external recruitment agencies and it is important to be able to do that in an efficient and effective way. There’s no shortage of suppliers (Australia has around 7,000 recruitment agencies) so Talent Acquisition (TA) Managers should be quick to try new agencies if they are dissatisfied with the level of service from their current providers, but PSA’s can often be locked in place for 2-3 years at a time.
So how can you get the most out of your agency partners?

You will get the best outcome when you engage one recruitment agency exclusively per assignment.

Agency recruiters treat exclusive assignments (where no other agencies are engage) like gold. This exclusive period allows the recruiter to do a thorough search and selection and use their full armoury of recruitment tools and techniques without having to race against the clock and multiple other agencies.
Exclusive recruitment normally comes at a lower fee (great!) and you can really impress on the recruiter that you are placing a huge amount of trust in them. This also means you should receive a succinct shortlist of candidates.

The more agencies you use, the lower the quality of candidate you will receive.

When a TA Manager engages more than one agency they quickly start to dilute the amount of effort that each agency puts while. While engaging 3 or 4 agency feels like a “safe” approach to ensure a good spread of candidates, in reality it turns into a resume race while each agency quickly tries to beat each other by throwing forward candidates as quickly as they can. The TA Manager ends up with 3 times as many resumes, normally at a lower quality.

Agencies really, really, really, really, really want to partner with you. So let them.

Did I say really enough? True recruitment consultants want to partner with you. We want to develop long term meaningful relationships and a deep understanding of your organisation and needs. It’s not a throw away line. The more you let your recruitment consultant inside your business the better they will understand it, the better they can partner with you and the better they can recruit – in partnership – with you. So have those coffees, drop your guard a little and treat them as a trusted advisor.

The first assignment given to an agency will probably be their worst. The more they get to know you and your business the better they will service you.

Like any new relationship, it takes a while to get to know each other. Recruitment is the same, and so how an agency performs on their first assignment with you needs to be considered in perspective. Don’t be too harsh if the agency takes a while to get a full understanding on your organisation and requirements. I often find that we need to submit double the amount of candidates when recruiting for an organisation for the first time.

Don’t interfere with the way agencies recruit

TA Manager says “we’ve already advertised on the job boards and got nothing, so we don’t want to see you put an ad up”. Job advertising is a skill, and an art. All ads are certainly not the same and the job boards are complex systems. Key words, day of the week, time of the week, locations, categories… so many variables that impact the success an ad will have. Let the agency apply their expertise in an unrestricted way.

Agencies will go into bat for you and promote you far more than you realise.

Good consultants are out in the market place championing you as a great place to work. They are promoting your role and opportunity very proactively. They are also defending your organisation if any negative perceptions exists. True consultants that partner with you will be very proud to be representing you and will stand up for you and really believe in your organisations purpose.

You will get a different level of service from each individual within an agency. Pick the individual before the company.

One of the hardest things about running a recruitment business is trying to ensure all clients get a great service and a great outcome. The reality is that within every agency there are good, great and poor recruiters. Instead of picking based on agency brand, pick an individual based on personal brand. Focus more on that individuals market expertise and success. Ask for a reference.

Size (of the database) doesn’t really count

As well-known recruitment agency industry figure Greg Savage says “recruitment databases are really just candidate graveyards”. Don’t be sold on an agency with a database of 1 million candidates, instead ask above how active and responsive their database is. Modern thinking agencies are now culling their old candidates and opting for more active and live candidate pools.
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