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‘I am spending too much money on recruitment agencies!’

Recruitment agencies costs can seem eye-watering – especially if the resulting hire doesn’t work out long term. But cutting costs without a plan could mean missing out on the best candidates. People Directors Victoria Sullivan and Alison Hilton explain why a recruitment strategy pays dividends in the long run.

Finding the right person, who contributes years of service to your organisation, is a sound investment. But if you’re paying to get in new recruits who aren’t working out, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and work out why.

Be realistic about the market

Have you considered the current job market conditions? The truth is, in many areas of the country it’s becoming harder to recruit; employment rates are high and current political uncertainty means that people are more reluctant to move. ‘You might think you have a fantastic company that people want to work for,’ says Victoria Sullivan. ‘But you could be competing for skills. Understanding what your candidates are really looking for is critical so you don’t waste time and money.’

Make a recruitment plan

Victoria suggests taking a step back to consider what you really want from the role. ‘Small businesses tend to advertise a vacancy quickly to get it filled asap, but it’s always worth investing time to reflect on how to find the best candidate and look at all the channels, in the same way you’d do a marketing campaign,’ she says. ‘If you can really define what you’re looking for, the type of organisation you are and what’s important to you, you’ll be off to a much better start. The quality of information going in has a direct impact on the quality of what comes out. It’s not rocket science!’

Consider the available channels

Once you’ve defined the role and the person you’d like to fill it, it’s time to consider your options. Technology platforms have opened up ways to advertise your role at relatively little cost in the last five years. It’s tempting to use these if money is tight, but are they where your potential candidates are looking? ‘I’ve had success with LinkedIn and websites like Indeed for certain roles,’ says Alison Hilton. ‘But it’s important to recognise that what works for one role or industry might not work in another.’

When an agency is the best option

If you don’t have much resource to devote to recruitment, outsourcing might be the most cost-effective option. ‘If you’re in a tight market or specialist sector, recruitment agencies can do the legwork for you, represent your brand, culture and reputation and bring in good candidates,’ says Victoria. ‘It can take time for people to build that relationship with a candidate, so outsourcing that is a time saver.’

‘A good recruiter will only put the best and most relevant CV’s forward,’ adds Alison. ‘They will understand the market in terms of costs and channels and try to get the cultural fit as well as the right skills. In short, they’ll try and understand what sort of person you want rather than thinking, “there’s a role, I’ll fill it”.’

If you do decide to use a recruitment agency or headhunter, Victoria recommends finding the best one and focus on working with them for a number of vacancies. ‘Using more agencies can drive the price down,’ she says. ‘But price is often a race to the bottom.’ She points out that low-cost recruiters are likely to provide quantity rather than quality. Do you really want dozens of half-baked CVs on your desk, or four really excellent ones?

Going it alone

It may be possible to get your recruitment costs down to zero, but it’s not for everyone. ‘If you have admin resources, you’re clear about the plan and are not looking for specialist skills, you can keep recruitment in house,’ says Victoria. ‘But be pragmatic about the work involved.’ Alison agrees that the time and resources needed to administer a campaign should not be overlooked. ‘Without help, you can become consumed with advertising, sifting applications and early stage interviews,’ she warns.

Other considerations

Finally, if your recruitment costs are high because people keep leaving, look at your onboarding processes. ‘Self reflection important,’ says Victoria. ‘The agency you used might be a factor, but ultimately, the decision to hire was made by you. Ask yourself, are you making sure the candidate lands brilliantly so you get the most out of them and they want to stay? Is there a mid-probation review to check that people are on track?’

Ultimately, every hire should be a talent hire – for now and for the future. ‘We try to help companies have a people plan that enables them to deliver their business strategy,’ says Alison. ‘Recruitment is not just getting a bum on a seat, it’s enhancing the capability of the business for the future. Every person you hire should have the potential to grow.’

Do you long for a proper recruitment strategy rather than simply filling job roles as and when they arise? Our People Directors can help you put together a people plan to future proof your organisation and achieve your business goals.  Call us on  0808 164 5826 to find out more.

Victoria Sullivan

Victoria Sullivan, People Director

Alison Hilton

Alison Hilton, People Director

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