How to choose a good recruitment agency?
Once a company has thoroughly verified that it has used up all the methods of finding an employee on its own and either can’t or won’t look on its own, the moment comes to choose a personnel consulting agency.
Here the question appears:
- a good recruitment agency – meaning what kind of agency?
- how to find the agency?
- what to pay attention to during the choise?
We can analyze the issues of choosing an agency on many levels:
- a boutique agency or a large one?
- local or international agency?
- an agency doing mass or individual recruitment?
- recruitment company specialising in a particular industry?
- agency specialising in a certain type or level of positions?
- recruitment agency or executive search agency? Or perhaps a freelancer?
- a company with long experience in the market or a “fresh agency” with just a short period of experience?
- or maybe an agency that has cross-sector experience and using its consultants’ rich experience can lead unconventional processes?
- maybe the management of our company or the owner needs to work with an agency that will co-create the search strategy and will provide consultation. This is because our company needs to enter a completely new market sector and wants to hire a candidate who will bring new knowledge. It is expected that the agency will know how and where to look for the right competences?
- or maybe the owner of our company is looking for a successor? And then what? Who should be entrusted with such a task?
From where should we start our search for an agency?
We begin naturally by analyzing our own needs and expectations from the agency and then move on to the search – market research. This is one of the elements of every recruitment and every other choice of an average Kowalski, regardless of whether he is buying a washing machine or a car.
Well, what to look for?
Many of us will agree that very often we start with recommendations, because it is the people we trust. People recommending us a particular recruitment agency, correlate the agency with a positive experience, and so with success in cooperation. Referrals narrow down our search field in a positive sense.
If we potentially need to reach passive candidates in our recruitment process, it is worth asking for recommendations not only from companies we know, but also ask friends and employees what agencies have contacted them in the past. The ones they mention probably use the direct contact method of searching on an ongoing basis and this is an excellent “informal” recommendation.
Should we not be able to use referrals, Google is always a reliable source. By entering phrases of interest for us, such as “recruitment agencies in Poland”, “executive search firms in Poland”, “recruitment agencies in the manufacturing sector”, “global recruitment agencies” and many other similar variants we can select a few agencies for comparison. “global recruitment agencies” and many other similar variations we can select a few agencies for comparison. It is important to use extensions relevant to the specifics of the recruitment processes we plan for our company.
Once we know which companies to consider, the first thing we’ll probably do is analyze their websites and their social media presence. It’s obvious that these days, websites reflect an agency’s image. The website, the agency’s profile on LinkedIn and Facebook is its business card. Social media is today the main way of communication and search for candidates. Therefore, it can be assumed that the agency, which has well-built profiles of employees and well-developed www page, also knows and appreciates this channel of communication during the recruitment process.
On the www pages we can find e.g.
- information about the sectors for which the company provides its services
- the company’s successes
- current recruitments (although those for the highest or confidential positions may not appear there)
- information whether the company cooperates with other entities
- whether it belongs to any international organizations, associations
- what the company shares with the world
Another key piece of information is what the team of employees looks like?
They are the ones we will be working with on recruitment projects. We can analyze their profiles on LinkedIn, see their experience, career path, what information they share with the environment and why.
Looking at the overall analysis of the company on the Internet, it is worth correcting what we learn there. Both positive sides and negative are sometimes overcolored. It is important not to create a picture of an ideal company in advance – just check, check and adjust to our current needs.
People – I mean agency employees, who represents a given agency and how he/she does it – will be at the very heart of our success when choosing an agency. Let’s not be afraid to meet and talk with the other person. It is even necessary. When we have selected potentially several agencies to compare the next step is to meet with consultants. The meetings should have a great impact on the decision, they allow you to get to know the consultants who will provide a particular consulting service.
Face to face meetings with the consultant
Online meetings, which are so common nowadays, provide an opportunity to talk about the cooperation offer, about how the agency works, what are this agency’s standards – whether they are variable or flexible, how much experience the agency has e.g. in recruitment for specific positions, what is this agency’s idea of conducting a given recruitment.
What else to ask about?
- about who specifically will be assigned to us for cooperation
- what are his/her successes and additionally what experience does he/she have in problematic situations and what solutions did he/she find?
- what does the communication of the process progress look like
- what are the ways to contact candidates when recruiting, etc.
Although it is said that we should not be guided by the first impression, some part of it will always remain in our minds. Let’s remember when choosing an agency that during the recruitment process Consultants will be the business card of our company in front of candidates and the market.
It is also worth asking about:
- how candidates are assessed (is it a short phone interview and how short, do candidates have face to face meetings with the consultant and how long)
- what is evaluated at this meeting and why
- how many candidates will be presented
- what the evaluation reports will look like (and if there are any)
- what is the length of the guarantee for the hired candidate
- whether the agency works on an exclusive basis or not and why
- how long is the exclusivity for a given position
- what is the frequency of communication with the client about the progress of the recruitment process
- what are the references of the agency, etc.
Meeting with employees of personnel consulting agencies will either make us reject a given agency or make us even more interested in it. This will be another part of the journey of our choice – the feeling of matching the agency’s services to the client company – to our needs here and now and to our internal client – the hiring manager.
Above all, a recruitment agency should attract us with their understanding of our needs (not just our job description) and with their individual approach to the client which brings trust to the collaboration.
Communication and sharing of knowledge during the project is the most important element of success in the agency’s service. Any difficult situations that will arise during the cooperation should be immediately analyzed with the Client, of course if the Client is open to it.
Ewa Adamczyk i Katarzyna Wójtowicz