What do we do about Recruitment Agencies?

A key question of the sourcing strategies I have implemented has been ‘how do we work with agencies?’ I have worked alongside a number of different agency models — preferred supplier lists (PSL), recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), multiple service providers (MSP) and other variations. Most HR Directors want internal teams to reduce cost per hire, improve direct sourcing rates and I am all for that. We can’t expect agencies to do all the work for us, we do need to have a hunter’s mentality — we need to go out there and find the people that are right for our businesses.

Within internal recruitment teams I have heard agencies described as a “necessary evil”, I have had colleagues positively delight in being rude to consultants and kicking agencies off the PSL. Personally, I may have been guilty of avoiding calls from new, incredibly enthusiastic recruitment consultants from agencies we’ve never worked with — we get so many! We spend so much time/energy/effort dealing with the ‘problem’ of all these helpful people who are keen to help us recruit fabulous people for our internal customers.

Working in an internal recruitment team, it is simply unrealistic to expect us to have the kind of networks that specialist recruiters have. We manage internal processes, stakeholders and work on our resourcing projects and therefore we tend to be generalists. Us internal recruitment folk might also move around from industry to industry. Recruitment Consultants tend to be specialists in one job family or industry.

When a strategic relationship exists with a recruitment consultant it’s simply a magical thing — it makes your (work) life so much easier! It enables you to dazzle your stakeholders with excellent candidates sourced in super quick time; you are provided with market intelligence on competitors and incredibly valuable industry knowledge. In short, they have the ability to make you look good! I have followed a number of my favourite recruiters to new places when they’ve moved on (you know who you are!).


If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you’ve always got.

I was speaking to a colleague today — about recruitment agencies and he said something that really resonated — if you are a fabulous chef working for Pizza Hut, it’s likely you’ll have aspirations to open your own restaurant. Why wouldn’t this be the same for excellent recruitment consultants? I have had some great experiences recently with small HR recruitment agencies recently. How do these independent recruitment consultants go about getting new business in such a highly competitive industry?

I have been really surprised and quite disheartened about the lack of innovation and disruption to the multi-billion pound recruitment agency industry. Ok, so the acquisition of Monster by Randstad last week and the LinkedIn purchase by Microsoft are bubbling away in the background, but nothing new/exciting has happened as yet.

When I want to buy a new tent (I do a surprising amount of research on tents), I look online, find price comparisons and the holy grail of tent procurement — the review! I can see how previous customers have felt about the product, get some pros and cons and allow me to purchase the item with the confidence that it’s going to suit me and my family. The same also goes for companies I may want to work for, hotels, restaurants, cleaners, tradespeople and even taxi drivers!!

What if, like Glassdoor, Amazon or Tripadvisor there was a review site for recruitment agencies? That would be awesome and would make my job so much easier. About six months ago I learnt about Hiring-Hub from an article an associate of mine had read. So, thought I would give them a call to find out more.

I was shown how to use the Hub and was able to post a couple of jobs on the site to see how things went. My favourite thing was being able to set the recruitment fee — so I knew exactly how much I would need to pay. I also got to choose the agencies I wanted to work with, based on reviews from other employers. We did a conference call agency brief to a number of agencies and then we got a bunch of CVs and interviewed a couple of people — painless!

So… fellow recruitment managers, why not give Hiring-Hub a try! What have you got to lose? Try something new. You might find the candidate you need, start some new relationships with specialist agencies and have some extra time to get on with your other projects.

Wouldn’t it be nice to say on these recruiter business development calls… “We use Hiring-Hub — why don’t you check them out?” (I really enjoyed saying that!).