You don’t need agencies…

The recruitment industry grew by 11% to £35.7bn˕, as reported in December 2018, despite Brexit uncertainty. With this sort of growth, why do business still insist on not using agencies, or directly sourcing their candidates?

At times, it’s cost driven. Other times it’s past experiences. Some don’t see what value agencies could bring, whilst others hold firm that they can do a good or better job themselves.

Sound familiar? You’re not wrong. You don’t need agencies.

In the same way you don’t need a handyman to put your shelf, a painter/decorator to wallpaper your 2015 Persimmons new build, magnolia colours feature wall, or in some cases a mechanic to change your brake pads and discs on your 2008 Golf GTi (other vehicles are available and require new brake pads too).

We live in an age where do-it-yourself and learn-it-yourself is possible across multiple platforms and fields with a simple click of a button/watch of video. So why should recruitment be any different? Afterall, it’s just putting out a job advert and waiting to people to apply. Then picking the best ones and interviewing them, right?!

Truth is, in its simplest form, this is all recruitment is. Finding people. For your vacancy.

“Life is really simple, but people [men] insist on making it complicated.” - Confucius, Chinese philosopher

In many an industry, professionals have made a lot of money by making people think that the service they offer, is something that is needed rather than wanted. In some cases, this is absolutely the case, in others, not so much. Using an agency is mainly about the perceived value. Are you getting back what you consider to be good value? Or do you feel as though you’re paying someone to do something you could do, just quicker? We can all wash a car, yet the majority of us will pay a tenner (Midlands is cheaper than London, FYI) for somebody else to do it. Why? Perceived Value. Our time is worth more than that £10? They do a better job than I do? They have the right tools for the job? There’s more of them doing it, so it’s done quicker? Everyone else seems to take their car there, so why not? Etc.

In the same respect, you can also recruit the right candidate for yourself. But ask yourself this; Is your time better used elsewhere? Will you do as good a job? Do you have the right tools for the job? Will it be done as quickly? Do you have the resources to recruit the job swiftly? Are your competitors using agencies?

A guide for DIY recruitment

There’s always going to be times where you need to recruit directly. For a variety of reasons mentioned above. Here’s some things to help you along the way.

  1. So you’ve got a vacancy, now what? Job description is needed, so let’s start there. What does this person need to be able to do? At this point, you’ll be tempted to Google a similar job role elsewhere or search your HR archives for previous specs and look to post this. STOP. Right Now. Thank you very much. It’s 2019 and job descriptions like the ones you’re looking for are way out of date. You want to attract the right talent at the right level, so this means really thinking about the job description and how you’re going to get someone to consider you as their next employer. That’s the difference. You might be hiring, but the candidate holds the cards. Gone are the days where offering a Mon – Fri, 9 – 5, 20 days holiday plus bank holidays and “pension” is considered competitive benefits. Today’s market is driven by things like culture, agile/flexible working, continuous development and lateral movement within the company, etc. There are lots of jobs out there. Why should this candidate start an application with yours?
  2. You’ve got the perfect job description, now where do I advertise? There’s lots of free job boards available on which you can post. For example, Indeed, Adzuna, Google for Jobs, LinkedIn, etc. Then you’ve got your premium listings with sites like,,, and more. What’s more is you have also the choice to utilise a recruitment “applicant tracking system” (ATS) such as Broadbean, Wave-TrackR, LogicMelon and more. Sound complicated? Yep! Most premium listings shouldn’t cost you more than £250 for a single advert. The more sites you choose, the more you pay, of course.
  3. OK, we’re in business now. You’ve got an outstanding job description which gives your potential candidates a reason to apply for your business, it’s advertised on one or two premium job listings and a selection of free sites – that’s it, done. Let’s sit back and wait for the magic to happen, right? Brilliant news, first phone call about your vacancy is here! Guess who it is? The perfect applicant? A keen candidate who wants to know more about the job before applying? A recommendation from Maggie in Accounts? Nope, it’s Ryan from a specialist recruitment agency, down the road, who just so happens to have the perfect candidate for you. You politely decline and re-write the job spec to include “No agencies please”. Be advised, this will not work. At all. Ever.
  4. Applications will soon start flowing in, some good, some bad, some down right insulting. But, you’re now in a position to start filtering and deciding who to invite in. Make sure you decide how many interviews you’re planning, how many stages, what your criteria is, time frame you have in which to do this and when you’d like the new candidate to start. Do bear in mind, you may need to wait for a notice period, which could result in an empty chair for a period of time. Can you cope with this?
  5. Interviews are booked in, you’ve got six solid candidates coming in, one after another on Tuesday next week. You’ve got the best six out of fifty plus applications and you’re feeling confident this is done deal. Have you kept in touch with the attendees? Do they know where to park? Are they aware of any traffic issues in the local area? Have you informed them on what documentation they are required to produce? Did you have a particular dress code in mind? Are there any specifics that you want them to be prepared in? Remember, you’re likely to be one of several other opportunities these candidates have on the table, so you must sell the opportunity to them, if you want to secure the best candidate.
  6. Tuesday morning, you’re ready to go. CVs printed, note taker present, social media profiles reviewed. First candidate in at 9:00am… it’s 9:02am. You’re thinking, this person should have been here 15 mins ago, right? Early bird catches the worm? Better to be early than late? It’s now 9:05am and candidate has signed into reception. We’re good to go! Interview goes well, you’re impressed but disappointed about the late start. You’ve decided to keep that to yourself, even when asked by the candidate for some initial feedback. Next interview is at 10:30am so you go back to your desk to get some work done. Engrossed in your day job, which isn’t recruitment after all, you realise it’s 10:45am and there’s no candidate in sight. You speak to Jackie on reception, asking her to call the candidate, no answer. Not ideal, but still another four booked in, so should be OK.
  7. It’s now the end of the day and of the six candidates, only four turned up. You ended up wasting over an hour and half of your day with candidates who either didn’t show up or were not prepared for the interview. Still, candidate one was good, but so was candidate four. At this point, if you had decided this would be a one-stage process, make a decision. Consider the volume of applications these two candidates have made, how many interviews and processes they may be involved in and let’s be frank, if you like them, chances are so will the other places they interview. Do. Not. Wait. If it’s a two-stage process, book them in now. Not tomorrow, don’t ask someone else to do it. Do it ASAP. Rest assured, the agency that this candidate will be registered with will be moving heaven and earth to get them an offer elsewhere.
  8. Offer management; this is the most important part of your process. Your offer management should really begin from the time you initially made contact with the candidate. What? Really? Yes. By this point, you should already know what salary they want (not on, but want. Big difference!), the notice period, reasons for leaving, counter-offer possibility, other opportunities and reasons to not take this role. This last point is hard when you’re recruiting direct. Why would a prospective new employee tell you why they wouldn’t join your company? The same reason you didn’t tell candidate one about your reservations on the lateness.
  9. Offer accepted, invite the candidate to meet the team. Ideally this would be in an informal setting (pub, coffee shop etc.). Be sure to stay in touch during the notice period. It’s important to consider that some candidates still have ongoing processes and decisions pending. This could be over a 4 week or even 12 week notice period, so make sure you stay in touch every week. Making your new hire feel welcome starts at this point, not when they first walk through the doors as an employee.
  10. Aftercare is vital. Assign your new hire a buddy, or keep in touch yourself. You’re a busy person, with a lot to get done, especially considering the time you’ve taken to recruit for this role. However, it’s so important to keep in regular contact with your new hire, ask them how they’re doing, how they feel, do they need anything. The aftercare element is the most time consuming of all of this process but is also the most effective retention tool in your armoury.

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.