Should I Be Using Recruitment Agencies?

First let me get this out of the way up front: we are not a recruitment agency.  You might be confused by that statement, so let me explain. 

We are an outsourced human resource management company.  

Many people believe that HR and recruitment are two separate functions and yes, this is often the case.  As someone who has worked extensively in both fields, I can tell you that they are inextricably linked.  HR is essentially all about building a high performing team, whilst also managing your risk.  Many people believe HR and recruitment though are different because you need different skills (to an extent) for each.  But this is the case in most HR functions.  Look at remuneration!  This is mostly spreadsheets, using VLOOKUPs, HLOOKUPs and IF-AND-OR funky combos of formulas.  It just so happens there is a massive industry dedicated to recruitment and it is something that businesses constantly need.  

So, let’s look at whether or not you should be using an recruitment agency.

The Case For Using Agencies

It makes sense to have specialists focusing on tasks that you don’t perform all the time. Why? Because they are dedicated to the task, have experience and save you a lot time.

What many people thinking of hiring a recruiter ask is if the fee is worth it. Interestingly, in my experience when you’re spending someone else’s money (i.e. a manager in a large corporate) it becomes a lot easier to justify as opposed to when it is your own cash (i.e. a small business owner).

There is of course the attractive part of the fee structure whereby you don’t pay anything if you don’t hire anyone and if the person leaves for any reason other than redundancy, then they will replace the person free of charge (usually once only).  I think there is a place for this sort of model for sure.  There are specialist recruiters I know who spend 80% of their time simply maintaining their network of talent.  The fields are usually highly sought after, specialised and reasonably senior (therefore most likely being placed in large companies).  But they are the exception.

The Case For Not Using Agencies

There is the dark side of recruitment agencies and believe me, I have experienced it as a client before. I don’t blame the players, I blame the game.  You have large amounts of money being paid to someone if they find someone that you decide to hire.  Is it any wonder some of them are calling you every week, sending you unsolicited resumes and “selling” how good their candidates are?  Most performance management approaches are sub-par, meaning that very often the manager determines the person is not right after 3 months.  Also, if I served you a bad meal, do you really want me to cook your steak again?

I am painting a grim picture and it is not always like that – but it often is.  These are just people doing their job within a system that is designed to drive that sort of behaviour.  Again, I must stress that not all recruiters do this.

So, What’s the Answer?

The obvious answer is to definitely use specialists for the hiring process. It shouldn’t come as a shock that I would of course, promote recruitment services (considering I am a consultant and all…) To be honest, I would recommend these services to business owners even if I wasn’t in this field. This is because recruiters simply charge for the work performed and this ends up being much cheaper than the alternative. Plus, experts will get you a significantly better result than if you were to do the hiring yourself. So although a recruiter doesn’t work for free, you won’t be paying for hiring mistakes. Add to this, the fact that we will also look after the rest of your HR so we help your business set the new employee up for success.

Ok, so enough of the sell…so what should you do if you aren’t in a market that can use our services?  If you are going to use a recruiter, you need to be clear on what value they are actually providing.  If they have an extensive network that they can tap into, ask them to give you a list of names tomorrow – or even today.  Otherwise, chances are they are advertising.  If it is about the fact that you don’t have the time to focus on it, consider an outsourced recruitment partner who charges for the work performed and who conduct a robust process.  There are freelancers out there who do this or even companies who are set up for it.

Final word of advice: In anything that you decide to do, whether it is working with an outsourced partner or a contractor or employee, if you work with the right people and invest in that relationship- you will always get a better result.


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