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Best Practices of Working with Recruitment Agencies

September 19, 2017 by Alina Majeed

It doesn’t matter whether you work for an enterprise or a startup, the most important job for an HR Manager revolves around getting the right team onboard and making sure it stays. When hiring, recruiters are often on the lookout for people who would contribute to the company’s synergy by delivering more than what their job description requires but finding these star players in the competitive employment landscape takes time and effort. For this reason, many companies of all shapes and sizes resort to external Recruitment Agencies (RAs) and Recruitment Consultants to source candidates.

However, much like most outsourced processes, talent sourcing can become a nightmare if not handled correctly with recruiters oscillating between having to juggle mounds of irrelevant profiles to dealing with excessively long dry spells in the most critical recruitment periods. To absolve your company from a bad RA experience, follow these practices that are sure to help you get the most out of your Recruitment Firm.

1) Let them in

If you want your RA to present the most culturally-fitting candidates, it’s crucial for them to have firsthand exposure to your corporate culture too. Reading up on a company’s work life and mission statements online is not enough. You must treat your RA as an extension of your company and invite them to your offices to ensure that your consultants get a well-rounded idea of what working for your company is like. Have them spend some time with both the recruiters and the line managers in their work environment so that they can correctly identify the best candidates for the job and forward them to you.

2) Give proper briefing

When communicating with your Recruitment Consultant, don’t just hand out job specifications and consider your job done. Instead, cover all the details attached to the job opening and the person who is to fill it by painting an elaborate picture of your ideal candidate. Make sure to inform your RA about qualities that are ‘must haves’ and those that are ‘nice to have’ in your required candidate. For every job opening, make it a point to discuss the team dynamics surrounding it so that your consultant actively sells that job to star candidates while having answers to all their questions at the ready.

3) Ask questions

Open lines of communication with your RA can immensely benefit you in many ways. Your Recruitment Consultant knows everything about the recruitment market, their existing talent pool, market conditions, new regulatory changes and salary expectations. They are also likely to have a good sense of what your competitors are doing with their recruitment strategies. Leverage this valuable knowledge database by discussing recent developments in the employment landscape as this will help you develop a collaborative and successful recruitment process for your company.

4) Set deadlines (for your RA and for yourself)

For every job opening you share with the Staffing Agencies, decide on a reasonable time that you expect to close it. Mutual consent will be important here in deciding on the optimal deadline. Anything shorter would result in a stack of irrelevant profiles flooding your recruiter’s’ inbox and anything longer would increase your time-to-hire. So, be sure to set your time-bound expectations from the get-go because a goal without a deadline is as good as a wish.

To hold your end of the deal, be punctual in providing detailed feedback to the agency on the candidates that they present to you. Don’t shy away from the specifics and don’t hold back on negative feedback. This is important for a few reasons: it generally conveys to the consultants that you are involved in the process where positive feedback makes them feel valued and negative feedback compels them to pull up their socks. This feedback also helps RAs refine their talent pipeline and accurately convey constructive criticism to their job-seeker base enabling them to improve their profiles. This feeds a virtuous cycle of goodwill and improved talent profiles which ultimately works for your talent sourcing strategy.

5) Work on your employer brand

Recruitment Agencies are just a cog in your grand talent sourcing strategy which rests entirely on your employer brand. Since an RA acts as an ambassador for your company, you must make sure that your company has something worth casting that initial lucrative net for job-seekers. Be it a great Employee Value Proposition, a solid career growth plan or a fantastic mentorship program; the better you convey your employer brand, the easier it will be for the Staffing Agencies to present top quality candidates. For more on this, read our piece on the “Do’s and Don’ts of Employer Branding”.

6) Have some faith

Much like all relationships, your partnership with a Recruitment Agency will be most fruitful if there’s mutual trust. Although it’s important to communicate with your consultant frequently, you must trust their judgment and steer clear of micromanaging. The last thing you want is to make your Recruitment Consultant feel like they’ve sold themselves to you for that small commission fee. If you have partnered with a reputable agency, rest assured that they are working hard to recommend the most fitting candidates for your job vacancies.

7) Avoid diversification

If we were talking about the money market, diversifying your investment would be our first tip but this doesn’t quite hold in talent sourcing with Recruitment Firms. There are a few reasons why you shouldn’t partner with too many Recruitment Agencies at once:

  • You can’t devote equal time for follow-up and feedback with multiple agencies.
  • You won’t be able to create a strong relationship with your recruitment consultants which will keep you from getting your desired results.
  • The whole back-and-forth with multiple firms will derail you from the entire purpose of signing up with a Recruitment Agency as you won’t be saving time and effort in recruiting anymore.

8) Set Clear Limits and Rules

To steer clear of conflicts brought about by ambiguous criteria, discuss the ‘fine-print’ items with the staffing agency openly. For instance, talk about how many CV referrals you are willing to accept per job and limit it to a sane number to prevent things from getting out of hand. Similarly, don’t leave out clarifying what happens if the candidate already applied directly to the job before the agency referred him/her to you.

9) Keep measuring

When all’s said and done, the numbers will never lie. Make sure you understand the ROI of each agency you work with. How many jobs did you ask them to find candidates for? How many candidates did they refer that made it to the shortlist? How many of those candidates were eventually hired? Make sure you hold quarterly assessments and compare with your internal cost to hire to better understand the opportunity cost.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, it’s clear that a Recruitment Agency is responsible for a lot more than filling your next vacancy. They play a significant role in developing a great team that drives your company to achieve its full potential. To make sure that your partnership stays committed to this larger goal, it’s essential to nurture this partnership with mutual trust, open communication and reciprocated responsibility. Once you start implementing these guidelines within your RA partnership, you will begin to experience its sustainable dividends very soon.

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