How to work effectively with contingency agencies & protect your employer brand
(Image courtesy of Mufidah Kassalias on flickr)
As a recruiter in the contingency space, Glenborn takes on roles from clients and only gets paid when we successfully place candidates. This is generally a good deal for the client with limited risk taken on their part to attract quality candidates through an agency. The risk of the outlay of expense and effort of the search is on us. Often, however, hiring clients misunderstand how to make this already-favorable-arrangement (assuming an actively engaged firm) work best for them. The three biggest mistakes revolve around:
- Quantity – Hiring too many recruiting firms. Some clients think that zero risk of outlay until a successful hire means they can “cover the bases” by hiring more recruiting firms to work on the same role. This never works well at least in the medium to long term. It hurts your employer branding as multiple recruiters working the same role will trip over each other to reach out to the same candidates, in the process annoying those candidates and clouding their view of your firm. This also reflects poorly on the recruitment firm and can lead to scorched earth for future hiring efforts. If you think you might be guilty of this, ask your candidates about their perception of your hiring brand based on recruiter outreach alone.
- Quality – Hiring poor quality recruitment firms. With limited perceived cost risk, clients often don’t put the effort into vetting the quality of their recruiters and how they represent their firm. Again, your employer brand is at risk here. When a recruiter can’t articulate the value proposition of the firm or the nuances of the role, candidates get frustrated and your branding takes a hit.
- Communication – Clients can also misinterpret the economic arrangement and make the mistake of treating the relationship with the recruiter too casually. They may not share enough information about the role or the hiring managers priorities or may not provide feedback/ interview results on a timely basis.
The risks to you are big. Poor employer branding makes it hard to hire, gives a perception of desperation on your part and will hurt your hiring now, but perhaps more importantly, will linger to hamper your hiring in the future. Furthermore, your recruiters will get frustrated with you and the lack of ROI from working with you and will turn their attention to other clients. The recruiter turnover that follows leads to additional noise in the market with even more recruiters reaching out on your behalf- creating a vicious circle. It also wastes your precious time getting new recruiters up to speed.
So, how do you smooth these issues out to make a contingency arrangement effective for you?
1. Adopt a different attitude to contingent recruiters and try and find ones that give retained service with contingency arrangements*.
Adopt the attitude that flexible financial arrangements aside, this recruiter -employer relationship should be about maximizing ROI for both of you – not creating a competition for sourcing of jobs for you. You should try and give your recruitment agency a really good shot at ROI by limiting competition and arming them with the information they need to be effective and responsive to the candidates. The reason why contingency firms can and do give up on clients, is simply lack of perceived ability to get ROI. If you focus on their return on effort, you will both get results.
2. Limit the number of recruiters you work with / offer exclusives
You can solve the quantity issue by never hiring more than one or two recruiters for the same job. Going one step further by hiring one recruiter on an exclusive basis will ensure your role gets the attention it deserves. If you worry about whether this will trap you with a limited flow of candidates, do two things:
Firstly, ask your recruiter for their confidence level in filling the role exclusively. A good recruiter will actually invite limited competition if they are not 100% confident of success with an exclusive. Secondly, try to limit the exclusivity period.
You want your employer story to be unique in the marketplace. A scarcity of outreach by recruiters on your part, within reason, is good for your employer brand for now and the future.
3. Constantly vet your recruiters.
Make sure your external recruiters can articulate what your company does, your core value proposition, and differentiators. Get an understanding of how your recruiters do outreach on your behalf, what materials they use to support conversations with candidates, and how professional they are on email, on the phone and in person. Ask your candidates about their experience with your recruiters. Repeat this process regularly. Cull where necessary.
Arm your recruiters with the information they need to represent your firm and the roles effectively. Constantly communicate about the status of the roles and the status of their candidates in the process with you.
5. Offer incentives!
Extra bonuses can focus attention on you, especially when you are in a crunch to hire.
Most of the above sounds self-serving for a recruiting firm. Although that is undoubtedly true, helping a contingency recruiter get ROI from working with you, actually serves you, the candidates and the broader recruitment marketplace better.
* Yes, Glenborn is one of those firms ; – ).