I was recently reading an article by Steven Finkel with regards to the correlation between recruitment practices and the quality of staff an organisation is able to attract and retain. In this post, I wanted to look at the points raised by Steven and add my thoughts to them in order to tackle the 3 most common misconceptions about using professional agencies and executive recruiters.
It is no secret that, as Steven writes,
“executives depend on the quality of their staff to achieve their corporate and personal career goals”
or “the best jockey cannot win races if he only rides slow horses.”
However true this may be, as recruiters, we often see a huge discrepancy between how executives perceive recruitment and how recruitment actually is. It is also something that has come up in our Tech Recruitment Survey where candidates often pointed out that hiring managers and HR do not seem to exchange information.
I firmly believe that hiring managers do not take enough time to understand recruitment, the candidate market and the required effort necessary to bring a qualified candidate into a meaningful recruitment process. What’s more, most managers do not take full advantage of the recruitment capabilities at their disposal.
Steven Finkel identifies 3 misconceptions in regards to professional agency recruiters. He points out that overcoming these misconceptions will help managers and decision makers attract new talent in a more timely and efficient manner, build stronger teams, as well as create an employer brand around themselves, which will help them attract and retain top talent.
Misconception # 1: Companies can find the same talent that professional recruiters can.
This is very far from the truth. In fact, there would be very little value in using a search firm that focuses on the same sources of talent as the hiring company.
Steven points out the fact that in-house recruiters heavily rely on job boards and online platforms in finding talent. I would also emphasise that it is mostly active job-seekers who happen to find your job ads. At the same time, good agency recruiters deal with high-profile passive candidates. They create their own position-specific (or, in Caissa’s case, technology-specific) talent pools and dedicate a lot of their time and effort to build and nurture relationships with these candidates. These specialised agencies will bring in enormous advantages, as I explained in my video.
Even if your in-house staff manage to approach the same people through time-consuming research, evaluation and networking efforts, it’s unlikely that those will engage with you… It often takes multiple approaches, trust in a recruiter built over time and a track record of reliability that are necessary for this to happen.
Misconception #2: In-house staff can do the same job as a quality talent acquisition agency.
“Recruiters make a living by finding talent that companies cannot find on their own,”
writes Steven. This is mainly because good agency recruiters find their candidates where in-house teams don’t look. They access the market from multiple angles and are proactive in doing so.
Moreover, professional recruiters are particularly good at engaging with the talent well before the need arises. This can help companies save a lot of time and resources when it comes to making crucial and time-sensitive hires.
There is also one major issue in regards to how candidates are perceived by in-house recruitment teams that plays a key role. Internal recruiters are positively biased toward their company and the position in question. For them, candidates are equal to applicants. Agency recruiters, in contrast, are focused on active engagement and thus well aware of the fact that they need to “sell” jobs to candidates, simply because most high-profile professionals are not looking to change jobs in the first place.
Asking a candidate “why would you want to work for us?” will backfire. The way to their hearts is through an understanding of their interests, objectives, motivations, etc. (also known as pull factors). In this regard, working with a professional agency results in better risk assessment and minimisation of offer turndowns. It also pays dividends once a person begins working for you as any concerns or issues are more easily voiced to recruiters than to a company where they only recently started their employment.
Misconception #3: Professional recruiters are too expensive.
“A simple cost analysis will show otherwise. Consider the combined cost of salaries and benefits of HR personnel and internal ‘recruiters,’ as well as the time that HR people spend doing non-productive interviews with unqualified candidates. These direct and indirect costs are substantially higher than paying out a one-time fee for an executive recruiter’s services.”
In reality, hiring a professional recruitment agency tends to save you money rather than cost you money. The same is true in terms of time. First of all, they are able to provide qualified candidates much faster than an in-house team, as they are specialists within their niche and can tap into an existing, qualified and previously engaged talent pool.
Secondly, just consider the cost of a hire and the opportunity cost of delaying a hire. It is made up by not having a person to do certain work, their colleagues covering for the missing employee, your staff taking their time to schedule interviews instead of performing their day-to-day activities, etc. In total, all of it might cost you tens of thousands of Euros. For more details and insights, see this video.
Having worked in the industry for over a decade, I cannot agree more with Steven’s conclusion that,
“it is an excellent and necessary business decision to utilize the services of a highly-skilled [external] recruiter with a strong industry focus.”
After all, professional agencies will ultimately engage with the best candidates for you, and not just the candidates who are at that moment available or looking. They will also enable you to access a much broader spectrum of the market, filter for relevant candidates and represent you as an employer of choice to people who are not engaged with your brand.