Selecting The Right Recruitment Partner

Posted by Lawrence Bond October 3, 2023

Choosing a recruitment consultancy to recruit for your business can be tricky, however there are some great and simple ways to ensure that you’re set up for success.

Firstly, don’t just choose the first name that you happen to see and you just want this off of a ‘to do’ list.

Ultimately, your Consultant is going to be talking about you and your business to credible individuals, often from within your sector. Therefore, it’s sensible to choose carefully, ensuring that they’re representing you well and creating a positive perception of your brand.

If choosing a key hire for your team or business, it’s a big decision. The person who will find that recruit and have a large input on the process should be selected carefully too.

Generally, you are likely to want a recruiter who can get as passionate about your business as you are, and whilst some people seek a ‘transactional’ service, the vast majority of companies want their recruitment partners to add value.

Trust and experience
My best advice is to choose someone with experience and base your decision on trust. After all, the best, long-term relationships tend to have ‘trust’ as a foundation for a reason.

If you don’t have that ‘trusted partner’ in your existing network, ask your peers, your team, or talk to others in your sector and ask for referrals.

More often than not, those referrals will be a person’s name as opposed to a company, which sums up that need for an individual’s knowledge, care and attention in the search for top talent.

If you can find the name of a credible recruiter who has treated people well when they were job seekers, especially if that was in your sector, that’s a perfect starting point.

The greater the level of experience a recruiter and their team have, the more likely it is that they will either know of relevant candidates or how to search for them. It’s equally important that others have had positive experiences with your recruiter.

Don’t just rely on a testimonial. A phone call can take minutes, and aside from giving you confidence it can open doors to others in your sector. As well as potentially speaking with their relevant clients, ask about their job seekers too. The candidate side of the equation are often overlooked when selecting a recruiter, however it’s so important to think about the manner in which your targets are approached and treated.

It’s often interesting to understand how a consultancy manage the ‘rejected’ candidates to maintain a positive view of the business they’re not joining.

Research is easy
With all recruiters ‘living on LinkedIn’, it’s easy for you to check out their LinkedIn posts, articles and to ascertain their ethos. If their presence is consistent and sits well with your approach, this is a great sign.

It also allows you to see how pro-active they are, whether they’re thought-leaders and whether they practice what they preach.

Price
‘Price’ can often be a factor when selecting a consultancy.

Like any trusting and mutually beneficial relationship, a ‘fair’ price needs to be agreed for this work for both sides. If you want someone to act as if they’re a part of your business, if you want expertise and a high level of collaboration, don’t expect a ‘bargain bucket’ price. In fact, be wary of a recruiter who doesn’t value their own time and knowledge.

That said, a recruiter who is interested in a long-term relationship where they will be able to add value and grow their network, will often demonstrate that their charges aren’t their driving factor – a ‘fair’ price is subjective, however don’t treat the negotiations like an episode of The Apprentice where the lowest price achieved is seen as a ‘win’.

Whilst ‘what are your rates’ can often be a first question, in most of life’s negotiations, people tend to be far more flexible once the mutual benefits of working together have been discussed.

Questions
Most questions that I am asked, tend to be along similar themes.

Try to ask non-typical questions that focus on things that are important to you and your business.

Ask the potential recruiters how they plan to represent you and your business. Listen to their ‘pitch’, ask to see their adverts or outreach messages. Think like the ‘target candidate’ and question whether it would engage you in a conversation.

Bizarrely I love being asked about our commission structure!
It’s a rarely asked question, however we don’t pay commission and our team just earn a good salary.

This creates a level of collaboration within the consultancy and ensures that multiple networks are combined with a common goal – working in the best interests of the recruiting clients and job seekers.

If your recruiter works in a typical ‘agency’ environment, decision making can be heavily affected by candidate ‘ownership’. Don’t misread this as me suggesting commission structures are wrong. I have seen numerous structures in my 23+ years and some form of commission is the norm for the sector.

I do however, think that it’s an area worth considering, if only to ensure the relationship isn’t purely about a particular transaction.

There are several, less common questions that you can ask that will give you a far greater feel for how the people you’re talking to will represent you, engage with you and ultimately be a great ‘business partner’.

Get in touch with me and I will share numerous relevant questions that you can ask.

Partnerships
Talk about the tools that the recruiter will use, discuss timescales, challenge them and let them challenge you.

For me, ‘engagement’ is key. If you don’t like the recruiter or elements of their business, regardless of their knowledge, don’t work with them.

If you do engage with the person or business that you’re talking to, if you feel that they can help and you subsequently decide to partner with them, give the recruiter the tools they need. That may be an onsite meeting, an insight into future plans and also a truthful representation of the challenges.

Every business will have challenges, and it’s dangerous to present any vacancy or company as a picture-perfect scenario when we all know there are very often imperfections. Be upfront about this and you are far more likely to find an individual who has realistic expectations and may well revel in the areas you see as a ‘speed hump’.

An experienced recruiter will tell you what they need and they will communicate this throughout the process. Equally, if you want additional information, or any element of the process isn’t working for you, talk to the recruiter and solve the challenges together.

That’s the partnership approach.

Once you have selected a recruitment partner who you feel comfortable with, managing the campaign and ongoing relationship is the next stage. Let’s leave that until next time.

There are helpful people out here!

Having worked within the recruitment sector for over 23 years, I have provided advice to job seekers and recruiters alike on most related topics you could think of.

I’m very fortunate to love what I do and I work with an inspirational team on a daily basis.

I have a number of close business partners, many of whom are long-standing contacts, who support us, so I practice what I preach.

If you would like advice on recruitment retention areas OR you want to talk about ways we can support your business, get in touch and let’s see if there’s a mutually beneficial working relationship waiting to happen.

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