6 steps to reaping the best ROI from recruitment agencies

Getting the best from recruitment agencies takes a partnering approach with accountability for success resting with both parties

Engaging recruiters to source and attract candidates can be an effective solution if managed well, however, reaping the best ROI from recruitment agencies takes a partnering approach with accountability for success resting with both parties, writes Karen Gately

How well do the recruiters you engage support you to achieve your immediate and longer term people objectives? Do the organisations and consultants you work with enable your organisations ability to attract, engage and retain talented people? Is your ability to find culturally aligned and capable people when you need them, improved through your relationships with recruiters?

Engaging recruiters to source and attract candidates can be an effective solution if managed well. All too often however I hear HR leaders and managers complain about the poor results achieved through agencies. A common grievance I hear is that recruiters fail to add value relative to the fees they charge.

Getting the best from recruiters takes a partnering approach with accountability for success resting with both parties. Common mistakes organisation make include selecting the wrong recruiter and adopting a transactional view of the relationship. Among the most important steps you can take to build and leverage great recruitment partnerships include these.

Priority 1: Select the right agency and consultant
Take a considered approach to selecting recruitment agencies best positioned to meet your organisations needs.

Establishing and investing in preferred supplier relationships, is a powerful way of ensuring you are able to access great candidates when you need to.

Choose to work with organisations whose values are closely aligned with your own. Place importance on the approach they take to building and managing the performance of their own team.

Work with skilled and committed recruitment consultants. Look for those who demonstrate interest in understanding your business and the role you are looking to fill. Appreciate those who work hard on your behalf and positively influence your preferred candidate’s decision to join your team.

Expect recruiters to adopt a strategic and proactive approach to finding and attracting the candidates you want. Avoid those who simply play a numbers game and rely on their process to connect employers and candidates. These recruiters add little value beyond what you are able to achieve through direct advertisement of the role.

The best recruiters are skilled at assessing candidates, understand your business and are well positioned to find qualified people through their extensive networks.

Priority 2: build your relationship and work in partnership
Successful recruitment partnerships are built on mutual trust, respect and commitment.

Consider recruiters to be an extension of your HR team and treat them as such. Understand that the best results are achieved when HR, managers, and recruiters work together. Set clear objectives and expectations and ensure roles and responsibilities of all parties to the process are well understood.

Support your recruitment partners to deliver on your expectations by giving them the time and information they need. Ensure they understand your business and the unique requirements of the role they are hiring for. Be willing to provide constructive feedback that will allow them to adapt and fine-tune their approach as they go. Avoid the all too common mistake of shifting goal posts that make a recruiters job all the more difficult.

Priority 3: value advice
Leveraging maximum value from recruiters requires that you allow more than a résumé referral service.

Invite and listen to the advice recruiters offer about the best approaches to sourcing and selecting candidates. Be open to hearing their perspective on why candidates presented are suitable for the role.

Until such time as you have lost confidence in their character or competence, give full and serious consideration to their guidance.

Priority 4: dedicate the time needed
The simple reality is finding great people, typically takes time. While filling a role quickly can matter, more important is ensuring the right hiring decisions are made.

Expect recruiters to work with a sense of urgency but afford the time necessary to source  quality candidates and effectively assess them before they are presented to you or the managers you support.

Availability of managers is a particularly common reason recruitment processes are delayed and good candidates are lost. Ensure you and the leaders you support are available to spend time meeting with and interviewing candidates. Investing time will allow you to conduct a thorough assessment process as well as provide candidates with the information and insights they need.

Priority 5: expect drive
Ensure that the recruiters you work with are committed to an active search process. The best candidates don’t remain on databases for long, regardless of how competitive the job market is.

Typically they’re not looking at job ads online either. Finding great candidates takes a targeted and thorough approach, attracting then takes the ability to sell the opportunity on offer. Expect recruiters to be driven and work hard to compete for talent on your behalf.

Priority 6: candidate care
Regardless of whether they are the best person for the role or not, every candidate deserves to be treated with respect and courtesy.

Expect every recruiter who works on your behalf to adopt an approach that is considerate, ethical and professional. Expect that candidates be given full insight to the opportunity and process they are being asked to participate in. Timely and honest communication delivered with respect and sensitivity is vital to leaving each candidate feeling positive about their experience and your organisation.

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