How to work with a recruitment consultancy

Written by
Changeboard Team

09 Aug 2011

09 Aug 2011 • by Changeboard Team

Working with recruiters

Plenty of organisations think long and hard about enlisting a recruitment consultancy. And there's no doubt that many businesses are moving at least some of their resourcing in house.

However, there's still a role for the external recruiter, and this is especially so for hard to fill, or niche vacancies that need the expertise of an agency with specialist knowledge.

With that in mind, as an in-house resourcing team, how can you work effectively with an agency to ensure they are adding value to your hiring process?

Educate the recruiter about your company

Ensuring your chosen partner understands your company and brand may seem obvious, but can often be overlooked, explains Virginia Raemy, MD of “Immersing a consultancy in your brand is vital; after all they will be portraying this to potential employees on your behalf. 

"Spend time meeting the consultants that will be working on your account, not just the account manager or director. Meet face-to-face and invite them to your offices so they can get a good feel for your brand and company culture.

Failing to do so can be detrimental to the business, as Raemy advises. “We’ve heard, and spoken to companies who have spent a great deal of time deciding on their suppliers. But it doesn’t end there, and some businesses often forget this and fail to educate the recruiter on the brand, and company culture. It’s simple, companies  who don’t ensure this will face a poor quality of hire, and worse still an inaccurate picture of their company to the market”.

Introduce a service level agreement

Equally as important is having service level agreements (SLA) in place, but also making sure that your chosen partners really add value, advises Adrian Kinnersley, MD of multi sector professional recruiter Twenty:

“Ensure you work with a supplier that can map the market, identify passive candidates (the best people will not be looking) and map out the whole departments of competitors. But once you have identified an agency who can do so, SLA’s are imperative.”

SLA’s ensure accountability, but only do so when the correct information is in them. They should include metrics that your supplier will work against. This may be time to hire, time to first CV, or the level of contact you expect with them. 

Measure performance and results

It’s all very well having SLA’s in place, but it seems you also need to be very mindful of setting them up and then simply filing them away. Regular evaluation of the agreements and measurement against them is vital.

“Measure and benchmark performance, create regular reports in order to track trends, and if you are using more than one agency it is worth ranking them against each other  to identify the best performers and determine where others can improve,” is Raemy’s advice.

Introducing technology

There's no doubt that technology is a necessary tool in the recruitment mix, but it's important to remember that hiring is about people, and requires conversation.

Should a relationship with an agency involve the use of technology is often a question raised. The tendency for in house resourcing teams to rely too much on technology, can be a cause for concern, advises Kinnersley:

“The drive for efficiency and cost savings is understandable and there are obvious advantages to tracking processes through a portal. But if people and talent is an organisations most important asset then engaging with the recruiters that source them should not be forgotten”.

Retaining the personal touch

Keeping the human touch in the recruitment process therefore is key. However when it comes to high volume recruiting, using technology is obviously a solution to cutting down a lot of man hours, but also to improving the efficiency of the recruitment process. 

The key to working successfully with recruitment consultancies clearly requires hard work, and particularly at the beginning of any relationship. Ensuring that your business is aware of what actions need to be taken, and the tools available to monitor the performance will see you well on the way to having an effective working relationship - and ultimately improve the chances of a better quality of hire.