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You shouldn’t waste precious money on recruitment agents, their time is already up


Nearly every candidate who dealt with a recruitment agency has a bad story to tell. Some of the pearls I’ve heard in my career include:

“I have seven years’ extensive experience running my own business. Recruiters have told me my skills aren’t enough to consider me for a vacancy in a call centre or admin position.”

“Every recruiter I’ve engaged with has acted arrogantly. To be treated with deference at a time when you’re trying to get a good job can be humiliating.”

But the feedback I’ve heard the most is that candidates very rarely get any feedback from the recruiters they apply through. They’re kept in the dark with where they stand; even after an interview they may get very limited context as to why the job has gone to someone else. They get no coaching or advice on what they may be doing wrong.

After such a gruelling experience, candidates have a tendency to be wary of recruiters. A survey we conducted among job seekers showed that more than half of candidates would avoid applying to jobs through agencies, and prefer to work straight with hiring companies.

Job seekers also say they’re more likely to hear back from a hiring manager than a recruitment firm, so why wouldn’t they?

What does this mean for your business?

Simply put, it means you may be missing out on top talent by going through a recruiter.

You might think they will be able to get you the top of the crop, introduce you to highly efficient people that are good at their job, but that is not always the case.

If you’ve used a recruitment agency, ponder this; what are you actually paying for? Have you had a bad hire with a recruitment agency? Are you just using a recruiter because you don’t know if there’s anything better out there? Let’s be blunt. It’s time to shake the recruiting process.

They are a product of another time

Recruitment agencies came about many moons ago when there was a need to fill the divide between businesses looking for talent and people needing employment. But in the last 20 years, we’ve seen a rapid transformation of the social media landscape, meaning that people and businesses have the ability to connect on a scale like never before.

As of January 2016, LinkedIn has 3.7 million Australian members, and Facebook 15 million. Both of these represent a huge community of people that can access the platform on a daily basis.

We can have access to people anywhere. But more importantly, the social media platforms are optimised to categorise people based on a range of demographics and psychographic behaviours, allowing them to benefit from tailor-made communications. So whatever magic connections recruiters had before, they are shadowed now by the ability to reach people through direct targeting.

Is it ‘good enough’ for you?

Recruiters work on commission. The reality is anything that seals a deal between you and the candidate may be “good enough” for the recruiter. But “good enough” for the recruiter may not be the best deal for you. Recruitment agencies can cost a fortune; they are the ultimate overhead. There is a sense in some cases that people get shoved into a job simply so the recruiter can collect an extortionist commission.

In a past life working as a recruitment consultant in a traditional agency myself, I’ve seen some of the practices that recruiters employ, and have had my boss standing over me telling me to “talk that candidate into taking that job, then band aid it until the guarantee period has expired”.

It may not be fair to say that all recruiters are driven by the money, but for many that is simply the case. Businesses are left paying up and stuck with a bad hire. In a world where value drives the cost of service, organisations shouldn’t be left in the compromising position of spending a fortune and having nothing to show for it.

Lack of transparency

There is nothing tangible that clients are paying for when they use a recruiter. What they’re getting is the ambiguous promise that they can get the best person for the job, and that they are somehow able to find this person in a way others can’t. If you’ve ever used a recruiter, you know they’re often not the best person for the job.

Consider this: if two great people apply for a job, you can absolutely guarantee that a recruiter will put one forward to one of their client companies and will put the other great candidate forward to another company so they can collect twice the fees. You have no transparency on who has applied for your job, who was contacted, who was ignored and who was shortlisted. The transparency is so lacking you may as well be staring at a black wall.

Technology has made recruiters redundant

Recruitment still has a future, but only for the innovative. Many organisations are beginning to emerge as alternatives to traditional recruitment processes. Businesses are starting to switch from recruitment agency hiring to smart, yet simple technological innovation that removes the waste and ambiguity from the hiring process.

While those technologies harness the communication potential of the changing media landscape and ad methods, it still includes real people to account for the human nuances of some industry-specific roles.

Meanwhile, recruitment agencies charge through the roof in commissions and fees for out-of-date methods.

So what can you do?

With today’s available tools, it’s easy to pinpoint and identify potential applicants who may be either active or passive job seekers. You can then target them with job ads so they can see the value in your company. Once they’ve applied, you can have them screened for basic and key skills, interviewed and then shortlisted. This way, you’ve identified yourself the best people for the job, and you can make an informed choice about your next hire.

You are no longer dependent on a recruiter’s best interests.

Sharon Davies is the Founding Director of Talent Propeller and works across most aspects of the business. She started her career working as a Recruitment Consultant in the New Zealand market. Realising that many businesses needed support outside of the traditional recruitment agency environment, she joined forces with her current business partners and established a specialist recruitment advertising agency which provided design, copywriting and booking services to companies across the country. After taking the New Zealand market by storm, Sharon launched her business in Australia and built an equally strong reputation for service and creativity. Today her agency is a multi-million dollar business and works with over 950 companies.

Sharon Davies
Sharon Davies