How to pick the right agency?

Last week we discussed how basically, you don’t need an agency to assist with your recruitment; looking at the work and time required to recruit directly, you may have no choice but to use an agency. Bear in mind, you’re likely recruiting because you’re losing a resource, this person probably isn’t going to work to 100% capacity during their notice period. How do you decide the right one then? The Office of National Statistics currently has 39,232 recruitment agencies registered in the UK. That’s a lot.

Do you use Google reviews? Jump onto Glassdoor, Hunted or some other comparison site? Go straight to the big boys in your sector? Look at who you’ve used previously? Ask for recommendations? Put out a LinkedIn post asking for them to get in touch (We wouldn’t recommend it!). There’s so much you could be doing; how do you know what’s the best route?

You must decide how you view an agency in the first place. Do you see them as a supplier or do you want to build a partnership? Either is fine, it’s just important to remember whilst the recruitment world has a “salesy” mentality, they offer a service, not a product. All the points covered in the last article is something that a good Recruitment Consultant should be offering as part of their service, if you opt for the partner route. If you consider them a supplier, you can expect a very transactional service. So again, the choice remains with you on how you view the agency in the first place…

Relationship building is where the best agencies have moved to. Getting to know you and your business, your team, your likes and dislikes and above all else, building your trust. Becoming trusted advisors is THE key in B2B sales, says every sales coach. Ever. But what they don’t tell you is relationships aren’t built overnight. But your vacancy needs filling, right?

The key here is finding a Recruiter who understands what you need. The issue is, there’s no GoCompare.Com for Recruitment services. (Certainly not credible ones). Finding a good Recruiter can be like finding a fiancé on Tinder. You’ll certainly kiss a few frogs, but eventually find your Prince/Princess [insert alternate gender here]. You need to let your guard down and take the Recruiter you’re speaking to on face value. Big leap of faith no? I’m sure you’d prefer someone you can trust and believe in, however relationships aren’t built overnight and your vacancy needs filling, right?

“Great relationships aren’t built in a day – great relationships are built daily” - Unknown (so Jay Shetty, right?)

The first stop will always be the same; identify the sector of your vacancy, so you can find its specialist. When Michael Sharma Group first set up, our background was Accountancy & Finance recruitment, however the first few jobs we filled were in Marketing, HR and Customer Service. We spent half of our time recruiting within our specialism and the rest of our time recruiting for everything else. Senior Buyers, Health & Safety Managers, Lawyers, IT Developers, you name, we did it. We were a one-stop recruitment shop, with access to the same candidates as everyone else… kind of.

Then we had our wake-up call; a long-standing client asked us to recruit, what should have been a bread and butter vacancy for us. Guess what? No candidates. Nobody we could recommend straight away. It was like we were entering the Accounting & Finance recruitment market all over again, from scratch. Lesson of the day? Inch wide, mile deep. That’s a true specialist. That is what you should be seeking for your vacancy. Anybody can be a jack of all trades, but will sure enough be a master of none.

So now you’ve shortlisted your specialists and want to narrow it down to three. (other numbers are available) Invite them in to meet you and get a feel for the business. Listen to what they have to say and be honest about your initial thoughts.

REC:SMART TIP: Agencies will ask for exclusivity. Some will even ask to be retained. More on this in weeks to come.

You need to decide what will be your driver to pick your agency; is it cost? Is it efficiency? Is it locality? Is it how well you got on? Is it a gut feeling? There’s no right or wrong here. The choice is yours. One thing about cost however, it will always be perceived value. Picking your summer holiday flights isn’t always about the cost. You will consider where you’re flying from and the arrival/departure times, right? Similarly you need to look at the full picture, i.e. total terms, service and end product. In the same way you have budget airlines, you will be able to find fixed fee recruitment. (More on them in weeks to come).

Look at your recruitment cost as an investment in the team.

Time tabling recruitment is key;

Week 1: Employee hands in 4 weeks’ notice

Week 2: Meet with specialist agencies and brief on vacancy

Week 3: Agencies search market for shortlist

Week 4: Agencies present CVs and book interviews based on feedback. Employee leaves.

Week 5: First week without resource in situ. Interviews occur

Week 6: Second week without resource in situ. Offer made to successful candidate.

Week 7: Third week without resource in situ. Candidate serves notice to current employer.

Week 8: Fourth week without resource in situ. Week 1 of candidate notice

Week 9: Fifth week without resource in situ. Week 2 of candidate notice

Week 10: Sixth week without resource in situ. Week 3 of candidate notice

Week 11: Seventh week without resource in situ. Week 4 of candidate notice

Week 12: Candidate starts as your new employee. Training Week 1

REC:SMART Tip: A good recruiter will have access to an interim resource to help cover workload during weeks 1 to 12 in order to provide a detailed handover from incumbent to successor

The timeline shows a flawless recruitment process, with no issues from employer, employee, candidate, previous employer, references, agency success etc. This is the absolute best-case scenario. FYI it’s almost never this good.

This is why your selection of the right agencies should begin way before your vacancy arises. By meeting with your specialists and showing them your requirements, you give yourself a head start, in what otherwise, could be a lengthy period of time without a resource.

REC:SMART Tip: If you’re only meeting with agencies when you have a vacancy, it’s already too late.

We hope you’ve found this article useful and we’ll be posting a video about this topic shortly. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch and we’ll respond via the video summary Q&A session.