Beware Of The Dreaded Staffing Agency

By: Elias Cobb, Quantix Recruiting Manager

I say that, tongue planted firmly in cheek, because I work for an agency, and have always worked for an agency throughout my entire recruiting career.

You (hiring manager OR candidate) may not believe me when I say that working with some select agencies is a good thing. Yes, I know. Of course I would say that. I want your business. But believe it or not, there are some actual recruiters out there who truly care about both their clients and their candidates. It’s not ALL about commission checks and fees.

First off, if you’re a hiring manager, why would you want to work with us? We cost you a large chunk of money, right off the top. Shouldn’t your corporate recruiters or HR people be able to find these candidates? Isn’t that what you’re paying them for? First, let’s immediately stop blaming HR. Their job isn’t all about recruiting. They have a thousand other things to do, and digging up a JavaScript developer with Angular.js skills isn’t going to leave them with much time to do anything else. And corporate recruiters? From having spoken with many corporate recruiters, my understanding is that they juggle 30-50 open jobs (or more) at any given time. I’ll tell you right now, in IT, it is 100% impossible to actively recruit on that many positions at the same time. And with the market as tight as it is, companies aren’t receiving the same quantity, and more importantly, quality of candidates applying to their jobs. IT folks simply don’t have to apply for jobs right now. Recruiters have to go out and find them. And if you’re giving your corporate recruiters that many positions, they don’t have the time to find those candidates. OK, you might say, I’ll hire more recruiters. Fine, but you’ll have to let them go when your hiring cycle winds down. Oh, and good luck finding top notch recruiters on the market right now as well – they’re in extremely high demand too.

And a good agency can actually save you money. Yes there’s a fee. But what are the indirect costs in lost productivity by that position staying open for 6 months? Or the lost productivity in time the manager spends reviewing hundreds of resumes, or interviewing unqualified candidates? A good agency can get you candidates quickly and allow you to make a hire in days or weeks rather than months.

Image Credit: Some Interesting Facts

Image Credit: Some Interesting Facts

There is a caveat here. Not all agencies are created equally. In fact, there are a lot of bad ones out there. I’ve heard, time and time again, from hiring managers that some of their vendors will submit candidates to them without ever speaking to the candidate. Why would you ever continue working with that agency? They don’t care at all about your time. You may review resumes and request interviews, and you don’t even know if the candidate is available or interested in your company! Fire that agency immediately! However, there are some of us who thoroughly interview candidates. I personally try and visit as many of our clients as I can to make sure we understand our client’s culture. This allows us to have a meaningful discussion with candidates about the client, and actually submit candidates who want to work there. We can also help educate our clients on the state of the market, salary ranges, candidate availability based on skills, and more. If you choose to partner wisely, an agency can be a wealth of information for you.

From a candidate perspective, it makes a lot of sense to work with an agency. Why wouldn’t you? It costs you nothing. You can gain access to companies you never would have found on your own. And they can help you with the interview process – not in giving out interview questions, but in at least preparing you for the people with whom you’ll meet, interview style, etc. Again, as above, you need to make sure you only work with reputable agencies. Don’t allow anyone to submit your resume without telling you who the client is, and the position for which you are being submitted. No reputable agency would withhold that information. And if you find a good recruiter, they can and will help you with your resume. For free! And they may be able to make introductions into companies you are targeting, even if they won’t make a fee on it. I know, it’s hard to believe, but there are a lot of recruiters out there who will help you without getting paid.

I read more and more these days about the state of recruiting, and how the human touch has gone out of hiring. I agree, it’s happening more and more. But by working with a couple of really good, reputable agencies, you can put the human element back into hiring.

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