Gaining Partner-level Value from Your Recruitment Agency

By Tom Mornement

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Over these last months, I’ve discussed the 5 stages that we at Purple House have found to be the most significant when building a strategic recruiting relationship between your company and a recruitment agency. An agency should feel like an extension of your internal recruiting function and help to make recruitment seamless and stress free.


The Dangers of Disconnect

You may be reading this because your current approach is leading to short or long term problems that are costly and damaging your organisation in one way or the other. Often, the cause of these struggles can be traced back to a disconnect in vision.

Like you, candidates have their own view of their careers and capabilities. If your organisation’s message isn’t clearly communicated throughout the recruitment process, not only will you miss out on the best people for the roles you need them for, but you will also be left with new hires that may find the reality of working for your business to be vastly different than what they had in mind.

This type of disconnect can be fatal to the success of the client-agency relationship as well. Overwhelmed hiring managers may prioritise short term pains and feel that enlisting the help of a bunch of different agencies to work on their vacancies will help put a person at the desk quicker. A few months later, not only will they find themselves with the same problems but they could have bigger ones.

The agencies’ recruiting practices may be secretly damaging your employer brand and reputation. Money could be wasted on ineffective advertising strategies without consistent data or insight to help understand the cause. Ultimately, clients could be “sold” on candidates who look great on paper and in the interview, but aren’t good fits with the company’s culture, on-the-job standards, or vision.


Benefits of an Exclusive Relationship

Trying to establish a relationship with multiple agencies to the point where they all explicitly understand the intricacies of your organisation can be a struggle and will generally require more of your precious time, which when you’re trying to recruit is often in even more short supply. Rightly or wrongly, if agencies know that others are working on the same requisition, speed can become the most important factor, overriding providing a quality experience and service. It can also mean the same candidate being contacted multiple times, which doesn’t represent your brand in the best light.

So let’s recap, what are the keys to selecting the right recruitment agency and developing a valuable strategic partnership?


Internal Reflection

Firstly, think through your company’s structure, present challenges, and what you need in a recruitment partner.

  • Are your job openings permanent, interim, contract or a mix of each?
  • How long does your typical recruiting process take?
  • Is your company experiencing high turnover?
  • Is there a particular job or role that you have the most trouble hiring?
  • Are people applying to your jobs, but only a few are qualified for the position?
  • How often are you hiring? What capacity do you need the agency to be able to handle?
  • What recruitment resources do you need from the agency (e.g. advertising, ATS, first round screening, etc.)


Getting Everyone on the Same Page

Ensure there’s internal agreement around the role you’re hiring for.

  • What do you need the person to be able to do in this role?
  • What technical and soft skills do qualified candidates need to have?
  • What do your top performers have in common? How can that be applied in the recruitment process?
  • What challenges has your organisation had in the past when hiring for this position or in this area?


Effective Communication

Clarify a communication process that works for your organisation and team.

  • How will job orders and requirements be communicated between you and the agency?
  • Do you want to review all CVs or have them do an initial phone screen so you only speak with the most qualified?
  • How will you feedback on the candidates being presented and what will the process look like if you want to make an offer to one of them?

It’s crucial that you’re vocal and clear with your thoughts on the candidates who are presented by the agency and step into your office for interview and that this is done in a timely fashion. Without this, chances are high that you could miss out on the person you want to hire.


Be Open to Feedback

Use your recruitment partner’s expertise to strengthen the effectiveness and attractiveness of your recruitment campaigns.

  • Are there untapped markets you can leverage to find ideal candidates?
  • Could the hiring process and strategy be strengthened to avoid candidates from dropping out of the process?
  • Are there additional questions that would be valuable to ask in the phone screen?
  • Are the amount of questions asked in the phone screen preventing meaningful responses from candidates?
  • Could job postings be improved in order to reach better qualified candidates? How?


Long-term Planning

Leverage the partnership to achieve core business objectives and long term goals that extend beyond the vacancy at hand.

  • What projects or initiatives are on the horizon?
  • Looking 6 months, 1 year, 5 years from now, what would the new hire’s position look like? What will they need to grow into that role?
  • How do you want your organisation to be presented to candidates?
  • How can you ensure a great candidate experience?


Ensuring Quality

When it comes to reaching quality candidates who develop their careers largely based on the value they see in their next employer, recruiting isn’t transactional. That approach would be easy, of course. Communication can be streamlined. Templates can turn into job descriptions. Candidate files can be stacked and worked through by recruiters looking for keywords and titles.

The danger of that approach is it results in poor candidate quality and/or high turnover. Both are problems that no one wants.

To successfully identify and recruit the individuals who have the power (and interest) to give your business a competitive advantage, you must be able to develop and execute a well-developed talent strategy that is driven by both your candidates’ and your organisation’s past, present, and future.

The point of this series isn’t to tell you about how great our agency is (we’ll let our track record with clients and candidates speak to that), but rather to help you turn hiring a recruitment vendor into an authentic partnership that returns real value in both the short and long term. I hope our insights here help you achieve that.

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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