Should you use a recruitment consultant to help find your staff? As somebody that operates a recruitment company, you would expect the answer to be yes!
However, the answer is actually, “not always”. Using an external recruiter has a time and place. In the current age of technology, if you have the time, resource and budget to find the right talent to support your business then using an external recruiter can be a genuine luxury.
Having said this though, there are times and sectors in which a good recruiter can be worth their weight in gold. Knowing when and how to use a recruiter will make it a positive experience and get the results you want for all concerned.
A combination of uncertainty in the UK economy as a whole, given a looming Brexit and a shortage of qualified scientists creates an environment where attracting a talented person away from their current role to join your business is tough.
The July 2017 ONS statistics show that the UK employment rate was 74.9%. This is the highest since comparable records began. The unemployment rate is 4.5%, down from 4.9% for a year earlier and the lowest since 1975. Given that the labour market is clearly tight, a talent shortage in science and technology has been exacerbated even more. In this type of environment, looking outside of your business for help in sourcing talent can be a good idea.
Clearly, for some roles and very often for a first job in industry, suitably talented individuals can be attracted with a simple online advert and there are a number of websites designed to help you do this cheaply and efficiently. However, if you have a lot of roles to manage, some help with managing the volume can be useful, or for a role that is of a specialist nature or on a contract basis, working with a recruiter that has spent in many cases years building a niche network is often the time to look externally.
If you work in a sector that requires wooing and attracting a candidate to join your business rather than casting the net and picking out the best, you may find that you can spend a lot of time sending off speculative approaches to candidates or making phone calls to talented people to ask them to consider joining your team. This is clearly very time consuming and can also make you appear a little too keen.
Choosing your Recruiter!
Choosing a recruiter that has a lot of experience in your market is easier said than done. The hiring managers in the department you are recruiting for will probably know of some people to start with and a LinkedIn or Google search for a specialist will probably yield a lot of potentials. Choose a few and spend some time asking them questions about track record and areas of expertise. You should also consider asking the hiring manager to join you to meet or speak with them too to get a more technical or specialist insight.
I would suggest that you ALWAYS meet your recruiter face to face. It will give you more confidence in your selection but it will also give them more of an emotional buy in to make sure that they deliver for you personally as well as professionally.
How many recruiters should you work with?
Some argue that working with a large number of recruiters means that you cover a lot of ground quickly and that you drive the speed of recruitment because your recruiters will know that they are up against others to get to the best people first.
The flip side of this argument is that you will have to brief multiple recruiters, risk an inconsistent interpretation of how your business is represented in the market, run the risk of the same candidate being contacted multiple times and starting to get the impression that you are a little desperate as well as starting to lose control of the recruitment process.
It can also serve as a disincentive to your recruiter if they think there is “no point” working on something because so many other people are doing it too. For a contingency assignment, I would suggest working with 2 recruiters to give you full market coverage and retain control of the recruitment process.
You will also find that if you are up front with your recruiter that they are in a very small select group, they will go that extra mile for you too. If you don’t see the results very soon or following your feedback session with your recruiter then you can consider opening up to other avenues.
What to expect for your investment?
If you are working with a small number of recruiters you should expect as a minimum:
- Face to face initial briefing
- Initial honest feedback about whether your expectations are realistic (does the candidate you are looking for exist? What is the market like? Are you in the right ball park with your compensation and benefits package?)
- An agreement about how your role will be pitched and the USPs of your business highlighted. Ideally with a written pack to accompany this.
- Suitable applicants being presented to you with a CV, interview notes, details about why the candidate is to be considered, areas to probe further at the next stage interview and any specific questions you would like addressing
- Comprehensive background checks – references, qualification and identification verification
- Regular feedback on the progress of the assignment.
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice even when you are not hiring and feel free to ask for transparency on pricing and processes. You will both find that if there is an appreciation that you want a great job doing but that you are willing to pay a fair price and understand that your Recruiter needs to earn a living means that the issue of money is not the elephant in the room and you can both get on with doing a good job.
Getting the most out of your relationship?
If you are up front about how you want to work with your recruiter and what your expectations are, you will find that you have a very healthy relationship with a committed partner. If you have selected a suitable expert in their field, maintain regular communication and are willing to listen to their advice, this will demonstrate that you value the relationship and you will find that your recruiter goes the extra mile.
Author: Jonathan Hart-Smith