Most businesses reach a point when they need to enlist the assistance of a recruitment agency. You may choose to do so because you’re hiring in a new location or for a new role, thus need specialist advice and connections, or because you simply don’t have the time or resources to find the best candidates internally.
Some companies will continue to use external recruiters on an ad hoc basis whilst others will use their recruiter all year round to fill each position that becomes available.
Whichever recruitment strategy you adopt, this simple fact remains the same: you’re paying your recruitment agent for their services, so you want to ensure you get the most for your spend.
These are our top tips for employers using a recruitment agency:
- Determine what’s most cost-effective – paying per candidate placement or on a retainer.
Recruiter fees are usually liable on the day that the successful candidate starts working at your company, charged at a rate of anywhere between 15% and 30% of the candidate’s salary. If you’re only hiring a handful of times each year, this is likely to be the most affordable method of finding professional, reference-checked and dedicated new members of staff. However, if you’re hiring regularly, the per-placement payment plan will get expensive quickly.
In this scenario, speak to your recruitment agent about their retained payment plans, as these usually work out cheaper percentage-wise per successful placement, and you can spread your expenses out over the year.
- It sounds obvious but a clear, unique job spec is essential.
Many companies create generic job specifications to save time. This technique is flawed because it results in applicants trying to prove their suitability for the wrong criteria, so you’ll end up wasting more time trying to evaluate their CV against the real job at hand.
The following must feature on the job spec you send to your recruitment agency, so they can find you qualified candidates:
- Job title, department, and to whom the employee would report
- Type of employment (e.g. full-time, part-time, shift pattern)
- Main duties and objectives of the job (provide detailed explanation for between five and ten of the key responsibilities)
- Likely changes or developments in the role and the scope for progression or promotion
- Essential skills or qualifications required to perform the job (e.g. PRINCE2)
- Soft skills, preferred experience or personality traits in a desirable candidate
- Salary and benefits
Really think about what your company has to offer because you need to sell the job to the best candidates just as much as they need to sell themselves to you. You can do this by including a company overview with all of your organisation’s unique selling points, as you are likely to be fighting with your competitors for the top talent.
- Set up a face-to-face with your recruitment consultant and block out regular appointments in your diary to check in with them.
Find out who the recruitment consultant handling your account is, make sure that you’re happy with their credentials, and confirm that they understand your requirements and the deadlines you wish to set.
Undoubtedly, the initial meeting should be in person, and then you can set aside time slots to go through any correspondence they send you, such as candidate CVs, interview bookings, and feedback requests.
The goal is to create a partnership with your recruitment consultant, not just a soulless transaction, as this will bring in much stronger results and you’ll reduce the risk of losing quality talent through a lack of communication.
- Consider giving exclusivity.
Advertising your job vacancy with several different recruiters won’t necessarily bring you more talent, as you’re likely to end up with duplicate CVs, plus a whole heap of extra tasks on your to-do list when you need to respond to all of the consultants you’re working with.
If you want to test the waters with this approach before throwing out all of your other contacts altogether, give one recruitment agency a 2-4 week head start on finding the right candidate on an exclusive contract. If they don’t deliver within this time period, you can then open up the job vacancy to other recruiters.
- Nurture the relationship.
Your recruitment agency gets paid when you’re happy, so they will always be looking for ways to add value to your business. This is why it’s great to regularly check in with your best performing recruitment consultants and provide them with insights into your business; they’ll then be in the best position to inform you of the latest industry news and when desirable talent is on the market.
No two recruitment agencies are the same; there are generic agencies that draw in large candidate volumes and niche agencies that bring in specialist talent. The important thing is to find one that is bringing in the right results for your business model, whether that’s talent innovation, employee loyalty, or brand exposure.
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