When building a relationship with a recruitment agency to reach both your short and long-term hiring objectives, the most fruitful results are often produced from keeping an eye on the bigger picture and collaborating throughout the recruitment process. During calls, you may tell them your thoughts on the candidates they’ve submitted and ask for their ideas and suggestions for plans moving forward, but in reality, how open are you to feedback?
If a recruiter were to point out a departmental process or protocol that they believe can be improved to overcome an obstacle they’ve identified when recruiting for your job vacancy, what would you think? Would you hear them out and consider changing it? Would you stay the course, convinced that the original plan will be successful eventually?
That latter choice has cost companies thousands in overtime, advertising and extra labour costs, yet it survives as a common reaction to the idea of change. This is especially true for businesses when it comes to recruitment strategy, process, methodology and practice.
At the top of the most common reasons for this reaction is this: the client knows the inner workings of their business better than the recruiter by experiencing it every day and the recruiter knows the inner workings of a successful recruitment strategy by executing them every day. Sometimes the perspectives cause conflict. Sometimes the mesh of varied expertise develops into a wildly successful business relationship.
As a Human Resources professional, your expertise addresses the “who” and the “what” questions in a successful recruiting strategy. This includes answers to questions such as:
After learning these things about a client’s company, recruiters at an agency focus on answering the “where,” “how,” and “why”:
For your business to benefit from all of these answers in the long term, it is important that both the client and recruiter keep an open mind throughout the process.
In this fourth instalment of our blog series, “The 5 Most Important Things in Achieving a Successful Relationship with a Recruitment Agency,” I’d like to expand on two ways in particular by which you can embrace this type of constructive feedback and gain the most benefit from your recruitment partner.
Discuss untapped talent markets and industries
As we’ve touched on in previous blogs, there are many instances where the best person for the job is found in a different, sometimes unexpected, sector or organisation. The varying perspectives and experiences they bring can enhance a company’s culture, increase ability to recognise new opportunities internally, and improve other aspects that can help an organisation thrive amongst competitors. This is a key advantage to working with a recruitment agency. Talented recruiters are skilled at understanding the client’s business in order to find indicators of excellence in overlooked or unexpected places.
For this reason, be sure to discuss your company’s work environment and 3-4 of the skills and attributes that you’d consider the most important for the prospective hire to have in order to excel in the role. Before including technical skills or programs in this group, first ask yourself how long it would take to train someone in relation to the typical learning curve that comes with applying that knowledge or skill in a new company. If you don’t see much of a difference, then that skill or program may not be as essential to long term success as you had initially thought. If you need this individual to successfully work independently with the program or skill immediately, then that would indeed make it a must-have for the recruiter’s criteria.
The reason for narrowing down your criteria is to gain a clearer picture of the true “must haves” and then remove as many obstacles as possible in order for your agency partner to recruit someone who is strong in those essential categories. Having too many items on this list can result in candidates who look great on paper, but whose strengths may be concentrated in less essential areas.
Be open to your recruitment agency’s rationale for putting candidates through that you may not feel have the right background or experience. They’d only be doing this if they felt they were capable of doing the job and were a good fit – after all their fee is dependent on this person being successfully hired. Often in a client’s understandable bid to want to have someone ‘hit the ground running’ they are looking for a candidate who has 100% of all necessary skills but from experience recruiters would generally recommend hiring someone who has room for growth in the role. Otherwise there is more likelihood of them looking to move on again fairly quickly, which is a scenario no company wants.
Revisit your existing hiring strategy
Unless you are making your very first hire, your organisation has an existing hiring strategy. It may not be the most effective or streamlined, but it’s there. Once your recruitment partner begins sourcing and speaking with candidates, they will learn insight that they can action in order to fill the position quicker and attract stronger talent in the earlier stages of recruiting.
Take the phone screen, for example. If having an initial phone interview with prospective candidates is a stage in your organisation’s hiring process, then modifying the questions based on the recruiters’ actual conversations and experiences with candidates can be invaluable. The recruiter may hear responses that signal the need to rephrase, omit, or add a question in order to receive more meaningful or reliable responses. Their recommendations can also sharpen your eye to some questions that may not need to be asked until the face to face interview (or are repeated).
With a brief list of targeted questions that really matter to your business and the role, the recruiter can then spend that time delving deeper into each one. This will help weed out individuals who are less strong and save you the time of meeting them for a face-to-face interview. A brief set of questions also allows for more time to be spent on follow-up (to avoid losing candidates who you think could be a great potential hire) and leaves candidates with a better experience than feeling like they have been interrogated by a stranger they just met.
Equally the recruiter may uncover that a lengthy application form, disorganised interviewing process, poor online presence or negative employer reputation is affecting your recruitment success. Be assured that if a recruitment agency passes on any of this feedback, with potential recommendations of improvements, they are doing so in your best interests to help you hire the best talent for your roles.
If you are open to feedback and change in the pursuit of quicker fills, better talent, and other hiring challenges, then you are likely to have a successful recruitment partnership ahead of you!
Written by Tom Mornement, Director of Purple House HR, a niche recruitment consultancy specialising in the placement of Human Resources professionals. If you’re looking for a new HR position, or need to hire an HR professional, then get in touch:
0117 957 4100
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