How to Get More from Your Recruiting Agencies

In nearly every industry, recruiting agencies can provide a significant amount of value to companies in need of short and long-term hiring solutions. Recruiting agencies can help businesses save time and money by efficiently accessing a much larger pool of talent with the broadest range of expertise.

With today’s record low unemployment, agencies can bring more value than ever.   Agency recruiters are hunters, proactively ‘selling’ your opportunity and getting your company on the radars of the elusive ‘passive candidates’ companies want most.

During the recession and in the years following it – companies could achieve their hiring goals simply by enlisting a large number of low margin staffing vendors to compete for their business.  Companies were successful without even communicating with their staffing vendors.

These same strategies are much less effective in today’s economy.  Becoming an active partner with a select group of recruiting agencies can significantly improve the value they bring to you.  Here are some tips on how you can get more from your recruiting agencies and convert them from ‘vendors’ to ‘staffing partners’.

Over Communicate

Keeping an open line of communication with your hiring agencies can help you create long-term relationships that increase in value for both parties over time.

  • Set the Stage – Engage 3 to 5 agencies to be your prime partners.  Ensure all partners understand that you will openly compete and audit your list of recruitment agencies at regular intervals (every 2 – 4 years).  This ensures the bill rates you’re paying remain competitive with industry standards and are effective for attracting the candidate market you’re after.  Always be looking for your next #1 staffing partner.
  • Invest Time Up Front – Host a conference call with the hiring manager and all your partners when a new job is opened.  This allows the hiring manager to communicate their needs directly.  Invariably, there is more to filling a job than the standard job description explains.  This puts all agencies on a level playing field and allows the hiring manager to communicate their needs in just one call.  This improved communication will save both time and money, while giving you the greatest probability of finding the perfect fit quickly.
  • Keep Score – Inform your agencies when a job has been filled and who filled it.  Agency recruiters are amongst the most competitive people you will ever meet.  This communication will invigorate your agencies and drive them to constantly improve in order to win the next placement.

Focus Intensely on what’s Most Important

When hiring an agency, it’s essential to have a balanced view of your expectations when it comes to your hiring needs and the costs associated.

  • People vs. Widgets – Resist the temptation to base your hiring decisions on the lowest bill rate.  Remember that you’re hiring a person to complete a task, and unlike widgets, not all people are created equally.  Focus on hiring the right talent for your current needs and be open to flexible budgets.  A top performer can frequently accomplish the same task in half the time while also providing valuable insights and auxiliary skills.  The lowest initial bill rate is frequently not the lowest overall cost in the end.
  • Bill Rate vs. Mark-up –  By evaluating the needs of your business first,  you’ll understand the type of individual you’re looking for and the bill rate that make sense for that position.   Now, allow the natural selection process that healthy competition fosters to go to work.  Fixed bill rates empower you to compare candidates in an ‘apples to apples’ fashion.  They also allow your staffing partners to craft the custom compensation packages required to attract the best talent that mark-up focused programs would preclude.   For instance, some candidates want salary and 401K, some want higher hourly rates.  Some want higher hourly rates and minimal PTO, some want much more PTO with lower hourly rates.  Some candidates need benefits, others don’t and would rather have a higher hourly rate in exchange.   Fixed bill rates allow your agencies to attract the best talent available at any given bill rate.
  • Ratios vs. Volume  Analyzing metrics is critical to making informed decisions.  Volume numbers are great because they show an overall level of effort, but they don’t show efficiency.  Without ratios – volume metrics can be misleading.  A vendor with a high volume of candidate submittals but a low submittal to hire ratio – could actually be robbing your company of the precious time it takes to review all those misfit resumes.  Greater efficiency creates time and that is the one thing everyone needs more of.  Ratios show the real value provided by your staffing agencies.
  • Quality vs. Quantity –  No one likes reviewing mis-matched resumes, encountering ‘double submittals’ or requesting interviews for candidates who are not interested.  To solve these common problems – slow down to speed up.
    • Mandate each agency provide a concise written summary of why each candidate is a fit, including their pros and cons with a custom skill matrix.
    • Limit the number of submittals allowed for each job to 3 – 5 candidates.
    • Require each agency to submit a ‘right to represent form’ signed by the submitted candidate along with each resume.

These three rules will ensure your agencies are taking the necessary steps to provide you with a handful of quality candidates – who have been specifically vetted for your company.

Be Part of the Solution

Even the best staffing partners can’t do it alone these days.  By taking an active role in contributing to the success of your recruitment agencies, you’ll be able to get the best talent available for your company.

  • Establish Yourself Online – Maintaining an active online presence on Glassdoor and other employment and social media websites will help showcase your great reputation and significantly increase the number of candidates you have to choose from.
  • Share Your Story – Why were you excited to join the company? The agency candidates are ultimately going to be working at your company for your managers.  Share the ‘sizzle’ with your agencies so they can recreate that excitement when seeking the best candidates.
  • Have Hiring Flexibility – Showcase your hiring flexibility by offering various avenues of engagement.  Maximize your audience by offering contract, contract to hire or direct hire whenever possible.
  • Be Realistic – Remember the war for talent is on.  Unemployment is at record lows and quits are at record highs.  All companies are competing against Google, Facebook, Amazon and hundreds of other amazing companies.  What worked in the past – may not work today.  Be creative with compensation, location, schedule, titles, training and career path to give yourself the best chance of success.

Start working with a recruiting agency today!

Recruiting agencies can be a valuable resource for companies of all shapes and sizes. By taking an active approach to maintaining your partnerships, you’ll be able to get more value from your business relationships and bring in a larger pool of talent. Contact one of our IT staffing specialists today!

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