Hiring Managers: How To Effectively Work With Recruiting Agencies

By: John Hutchins, Quantix Vice President, Client Services

Many hiring managers and human resource professionals utilize recruiting agencies to help fill their open positions, but very few know how to leverage recruiting agencies effectively. When you call a recruiting agency and ask for help, you are forming a relationship. As with any relationship, both parties must be invested in the relationship for it to work. Often times, managers aren’t willing to invest the time and effort necessary to create a quality relationship that benefits both themselves and the recruiting agency. As a result, they don’t receive quality candidates, become frustrated and engage a new recruiting agency only to make the same mistakes again and again. Improve your success working with recruiting agencies by following these simple recommendations:

1) Limit the number of recruiting agencies with which you work. If you’re the typical hiring manager, you probably receive in the neighborhood of five to 10 sales calls from recruiting agencies per day. The old adage “the more, the merrier” doesn’t apply when it comes to engaging recruiting agencies. Typically, two or three agencies are enough to get the job done. When you start adding more to the mix, it becomes really messy. For one thing, you won’t have time to manage or develop the relationships. And, more importantly, the recruiting agencies start tripping over each other. They quickly learn that they are one of the many, not one of the select. This causes recruiting agencies to lower you as a priority and focus on clients who value their services. Foster a sense of loyalty by letting recruiting agencies know they are unique and valued. The recruiting agencies will work harder, represent you better and help you fill your positions more quickly.

Image Credit: Digital Deconstruction

Image Credit: Digital Deconstruction

2) Don’t engage a recruiting agency until you’re ready to hire their candidates. Hiring a recruiting agency too soon will only cause frustration for everyone involved, including the hiring manager, internal recruiters, recruiting agency recruiters and the candidates. If you have internal recruiters, give them the first crack at filling the position. During this initial period, reach out to your team and ask for referrals. Only after you’ve exhausted your internal resources is it time to contact the recruiting agencies. This is important for a couple of reasons. First off, you don’t want to pay a placement fee if you can avoid it. Secondly, you don’t want to hurt the relationships you’ve developed with your valued recruiting agencies by wasting their time. Engage recruiting agencies only when you are able to interview and hire within a couple of weeks.

3) Provide quality information in the beginning and throughout the process. As with any relationship, good communication is imperative. Starting the process by sending a blanket email with a generic job description may be quick, but it is far from effective. Now that you’ve narrowed your list of recruiting agencies to two or three, you have time to contact each recruiting agency personally. Schedule a meeting or, at the very least, a 15 minute phone call. Provide them with a job description, but then go a step further by letting them know what skills / experience is truly important, why you are filling this position and what this person will be doing on a daily basis. Be honest and reasonable with regard to required / desired skills and especially the salary range. Encourage the recruiting agencies to ask questions about the position or to come back to you with questions after the recruiting process has started. Most importantly, provide quality and timely feedback on the candidates. Provide clear and detailed reasons why you are rejecting someone or even why you like a candidate. Good feedback not only helps the recruiting agency find quality candidates for you, but it sends yet another powerful message that you value the services they provide. This message will trickle down to the recruiters at the recruiting agency and they will work extra hard to fill your positions.

When it comes right down to it, working effectively with recruiting agencies isn’t that complicated. It is similar to developing any other valued relationship. If you want the relationship to flourish and benefit both parties, you need to let the other party know they are special, you need to respect them and their services and you need to take the time to foster open lines of communication. Implementing these recommendations will greatly improve your success with recruiting agencies and, ultimately, help you fill open positions with better candidates in a shorter amount of time.

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