Working with a recruitment agency – all sides considered

agencja rekrutacyjna it
Kasia Michalak
Kasia Michalak
No company can grow without new hires, and recruitment agencies promise to make this process pain-free. In most cases - they truly do! However, in order to be upfront with our potential clients, we would love to show you all the benefits, drawbacks, and question marks one should take into account before signing on the line which is dotted.

Recruiting is not easy – it requires a careful balancing of divergent, sometimes exclusionary interests, and if ran without adequate knowledge, approach and tools, can sap time and energy (read: money) from any company, regardless of size. The stories our recruitment specialists tell – about problematic hires, hard clients, posts almost impossible to fill – could make you both laugh and shrivel. The market is unforgiving, and once public perception of your company as a good place to work goes down the drain, it takes years to recoup. All those factors are ever more important in the uber competitive IT market, where specialist demand is sky high and the best you are looking for rarely want to change jobs.

Here, at Bee Talents, we don’t work with everyone, and our services are not for every company. We can be brutally honest with our clients regarding their expectations and their understanding of the market, from which they want to pull candidates. We also have to manage multiple, often very reasonable objections to working with agencies like ours. But hey – our success is a testament in itself. Therefore – let me explain in plain words, what do agencies offer that in-house HR don’t, and where we can’t help your internal recruiting.

Hey, what about my own HR department?

The first question one should always ask – is there a potential for redundancy between the internal HR department, and expertise from an outside agency? It’s a good business instinct to try to solve issues internally first, if the skills and time to spare are already there. However, many execs have severely outgrown expectations that they place on their internal HR. HR is not only recruiting. Many of HR skills are not even remotely close to what we expect from our recruiting experts. Huge majority of daily tasks performed by internal HR is not related at all to designing a job hunt, performing deep searches and sifting through hundreds of candidates. It is rather focused on internal administrative tasks and keeping your company running smoothly.

There is a reason specific, narrow expertise is so prized among most employers. And that is exactly what a full time pro recruiter has, that skillset is rarely found in any organizations sans the absolute largest. And those are not some arcane skills and ancient knowledge, but specific abilities. Recruiters work years to achieve a good brand, they have their own databases with candidates that they have built some rapport with already. If you think, that a candidate database can be replaced by a quick LinkedIn Search – oh boy, would you be wrong! Even there, every recruiter at the agency like Bee Talents, works with tools that most companies would not invest in for their limited hiring needs and why would they.

We on the other hand, bring guns to a knife fight. Our staff works on their personal LinkedIn corporate recruiter accounts, which often costs more than HR specialist quarterly salary. Same goes for Applicant Tracking Systems, like our fave Lever, and such improvements lurk in every corner of the recruitment process. But a word of warning here – using top echelon tools is not and industry standard. Always ask about the company approach to candidate sourcing and do not let get your agency get away with Excel sheets – despite thunderous GDPR gods watching, that can still happen with agencies that do not invest in themselves.

Time well spent?

There is another set of benefits for HR agencies. Paradoxically, it is the cost. We get it – costs calculated internally can show a rosy outlook for your internal job search. Asking HR corporate about costs gets you answers that are incomparable to the price of our services. But they miss out so many things! Placing a job advert may be the only cost that reaches a manager consciousness, while the rest is muddled by the corporate structure and current salaries. Step by step explanation: a HR specialist without excellent recruiting savvy is worlds less efficient than a pro recruiter armed to the teeth with latest tech. Time spent on every action is longer, and that is cost that hurts you in three ways. First, it is much harder to adequately measure efficiency of the recruiting process, second, that time could be spent on something where HR staff has deeper expertise, and finally, a HR specialist may lack required tech knowledge and be essentially a recruiting generalist, in need of specific knowledge required to gauge candidates well.

Recruiters are not IT specialists per se – in that they rarely sit in a console and whine about messy Kanban boards – but in a good recruitment agency they receive specialist education on how to talk to IT professionals and how to measure their skills. All our recruitment specialists regularly attend technical workshops, where they learn technologies they will later be searching for in the market. If you are not ready to invest in the same knowledge to be internalized in your HR department, do not think that they will just learn it through osmosis – they will usually not.

Devil is in the detail

There is another layer of expertise that matters. Full time recruiters know best how to advertise jobs and where to place ads so that they have the best effect. Through their years of specific niche expertise they understand how their targets move online and how to ensure they have easy access to information about the job. In-house marketing teams that most good recruiting agencies have also assist in this. So to sum up, by now you would have to expect your HR department to have expertise in recruiting, sourcing, IT and online advertising, and to do it all ON TOP of their standard workload. In most cases, this is not a realistic expectation, which results in surprise when top candidates never even gain awareness about your job posting, placed in the most obviously available boards instead of precisely targeted places.

The reality is, that many times hiring falls onto CEO or even CTO, whose time should be even more carefully managed not to waste their (expensive!) core talents. And time is of essence in another aspect of recruiting. It is necessary for meaningful interaction, and meaningful interaction creates long term brand recognition, trust and respect.

Best practices in hiring pay off

Every candidate your overworked HR will not call back and give feedback on, or whenever the hiring process stalls, your company is put under negative spotlight. Since IT grapevine is fast and unforgiving, such PR details cannot be overlooked – and that is why HR agencies also exist, to make sure that all the little communication steps are covered from A to Z, including long term feedback collection and the style of recruitment communication. Here at Bee Talents we do not partake in hidden recruitments and we always stress the importance of stating salary brackets upfront – candidates expect it in overwhelming numbers. Hiding your cards and essentially trying to game the applicant into taking less is just bad business practice. Employers often complain about the possible impact on current employees – a thing that is a direct result of their own mismanagement in having a clear, open salary structure that benefits everyone in the company. And many times, what it takes to change this practice is HR agency consultancy, which pushes management to drop outdated practices that do nothing to improve staff morale.

Cultural mishaps

There is one possible minus of working with an outside agency, and that is culture. Corporations are unique environments, and sometimes a candidate that is perfect on paper just does not match the energy in the room. This is something that needs to be taken seriously, and a good recruiting agency will never claim to understand your atmosphere and your personal requirements better than you do. So always watch, if the right questions are being asked from the get go! Does the agency do its due diligence in trying to establish as much about your office vibe as possible before starting a search, and how well it responds to feedback if the first batch of candidates just seems… off by a bit.

Unethical actors exist everywhere, and there are agencies that will try to push candidates on you just to fulfill their contractual obligations. While this is a short route to extinction for most such enterprises, without reading peer reviews and testimonials it may be hard to pick out the really good ones. Ask for contact to their clients and make the agency show references from similar companies to yours. This can spare you some pain later.

Summary

All in all, recruiting agencies work wonders for some companies – for others – they may be an overreach. Our customer satisfaction and constant growth suggest, that being very human, straightforward and having high level expertise in both recruiting and IT can bring tangible benefits to many IT houses and departments. One thing is for sure – weigh your pros and cons carefully. Hiring after all is what makes or breaks your company on many levels. Good luck!

Kasia Michalak

Kasia Michalak

Kasia Michalak

Kasia Michalak

Spread the word

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin