Talent acquisition encompasses talent procurement, forecasting, pipelining, assessment, and development as strategic functions within a large organization. Leveraging tools, technology, and outsourcing partners are part of a talent acquisition strategy to fill open positions quickly, especially when hiring at a high volume. One important outsourcing partner is a recruitment agency.
While smaller companies may also outsource some recruitment functions, larger firms will engage recruiting partners on a longer term basis to augment internal recruiting efforts and will often even engage multiple agencies. This can be a really efficient method for companies since they can measure the number of good hires each agency brings in. This allows you to find a recruiting partner that understands your company’s specific needs and the kind of talent you want to reach.
For large companies, engaging a recruitment agency partner can also help quickly find a key new hire because it will have a network of candidates that is much larger than what a single company could build with an internal team. When hiring for an executive or a very specialized role, recruitment agencies that specialize in executive hires or specific industries can be a huge asset.
What to Consider Before Choosing a Recruitment Agency
There are a lot of advantages to using a recruiting partner to supplement your internal recruitment efforts, but it’s important to be deliberate about selecting the right agency. Here are some things to consider when evaluating recruitment firms:
Don’t go it alone.
Your internal team should be involved in the decision making process because they know the pain points your company is facing when trying to recruit rapidly and at high volume. Make sure you and your team outline the issues you want to solve (filling specialty positions, filling a large number of positions quickly, reducing time to hire, improving candidate quality, and so on) and use the list as a guide when you evaluate recruitment agencies.
Know the profile of your ideal candidate.
In order for a recruitment agency to work with your company effectively, they need to know what your ideal candidate looks like, from specific skills to culture fit. You’re likely to have multiple profiles and these can be created using the personas your internal team targets.
Which type of agency is the best fit for your company?
Based on forecasting, you’ll need to decide if you want to engage a general recruitment firm or one that specializes in your industry or in the specific positions you need to fill quickly. You’ll want someone who has experience in your industry or has a track record of success.
Recruitment agencies normally charge a percentage of the salary rather than a set fee. This percentage can vary, but it usually starts at about 15%. Do compare agency fees, but ultimately make the decision based on what the agency offers, not because it charges less than other firms.
How experienced is the agency?
Specifically, ask how much experience they have finding and screening top talent in the same industry or of the same type you need to hire. Ask what their track record is for hiring at high volume or for the specialized skilled talent you need. Most experienced agencies will have case studies they can share with you.
Does the agency “get” what your company needs?
As you are evaluating partners, make sure you keep team members in the loop, just as you would with hiring a candidate. It’s important that your recruitment partner understands your company culture and that they can represent it well to candidates.
Fact check their track record.
Read reviews, testimonials, and business cases. Reach out to companies the recruitment agency works with – past and present. Ask past employers why they stopped using the agency and ask current customers why they hired the agency. Source recommendations and references from those within your community that your agency prospects aren’t offering up. You want to get a good picture of how they operate and collaborate.
Don’t be afraid to test drive.
Most agencies will offer short-term contracts so that you can use their services to fill a few positions before committing to a longer term contract. One of the best ways to select a long-term recruitment partner is to engage more than one and give each the same task (break down hiring needs into two or three similar groups). Once completed, evaluate the success of each and choose the one who found the best candidates for your company (and did it quickly). Note that many large companies will engage more than one agency long-term, especially if they have disparate hiring needs like one funnel for entry-level special skills and one funnel for experienced and certified, for example.
Working With Your Recruitment Agency Partner
Once you have decided which recruitment agencies you want to work with, make sure you have 1) a contract and 2) written documentation about the role of your recruitment partner.
For example: Some recruitment companies only shortlist top candidates and offer you the list. Some will perform the first round of interviews and give you a filtered list of candidates. Most will stay engaged throughout the process, from candidate search to screening to interview and even salary negotiation. It’s important to be clear about the extent of your recruitment partner’s involvement with talent acquisition and how they will support your internal team.
Finally, as you begin to work with your recruitment partner, keep an open line of communication between your agency and your internal team. Give them honest feedback on the shortlisted candidates, tell them what they are doing well and what they could improve upon. There are no vendor partners who specialize in mind reading, so you’ll want to give your partner the opportunity to perform at their best and to your advantage.