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Virginia Raemy

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Beating the frustration: improving HR’s relationship with recruiters


Historically HR and recruiters haven’t had a great relationship, yet they both need each other – something has to be done so we can both get along.

While in theory recruitment only forms a small part of an HR manager’s role, in practice it can be one of the most time-consuming elements. In addition, at a time when HR is under pressure from the business to reduce costs, it is essential to try and make new hires as cost effective as possible. However, with HR managers having less time on their hands to brief and give feedback to recruiters, it becomes more difficult for recruiters to put forward the right candidates. This vicious circle can leave both parties feeling the strain and searching for new ways that they can work together to create a more efficient and effective recruitment process.

Getting value for money
UK businesses currently spend £2.6 billion on external recruitment each year. However, recent research by Vanson Bourne found that 76% of the business owners and HR staff surveyed felt that they were not getting value for money, despite often paying up to 30% of the candidate’s annual base salary to recruiters.

One particular problem is the lack of transparency or consistency when it comes to agency fees. This can make employers feel ripped off. In addition, it also makes it hard for employers to balance their recruitment budget when fees vary so much. Vanson Bourne’s research found that 77% of employers were frustrated that there wasn’t any consistency in recruitment rates and rebates.

Time is money
Employers use recruitment agencies to help them save time in the recruitment process with the expectation that the agency will pre-screen the applicants and present a short list of those best suited for the job. However, in reality, busy HR departments and employers are often left frustrated about the time it takes to brief recruitment agencies. Many say that recruiters don’t listen to them and then send them poorly targeted CVs that don’t fit the specifications they are looking for. Vanson Bourne’s research found that over half (58%) felt that briefing recruitment agencies can be a waste of time.

Another gripe that employers have is recruiters overselling the skills of candidates. When this happens, employers find that the skills match isn’t what was promised or the cultural fit isn’t there. It is little wonder that this, together with unwanted calls, unqualified CVs and the constant chasing for CV/candidate feedback, are the top frustrations for HR departments. All of which can lead to a bad relationship between employers and recruitment agencies.

Limiting the talent pool
As a result of these frustrations, particularly the time taken to brief and manage each recruitment agency, many businesses will only work with a select few agencies, despite the cost and candidate quality, instead of taking the time to properly source agencies that best suit the business’s needs. This approach severely limits the size of the talent pool that the company is exposed to and they could potentially be missing out on the best candidates.

On the other hand
The criticism of recruiters is not just one sided. Many recruiters also fairly point the finger at employers and say they could be doing more to improve communication. Recruiters often say that although they realise the pressure HR is under, they still don’t receive enough feedback and guidance in order to perform the best candidate search.

Recruiters also say they spend on average 50-75% of their time on making cold calls to employers to drum up new business. This can have a limited return and is annoying for employers. Instead, agencies should be spending their time finding and filtering appropriate candidates for existing briefs as putting a more select group of applicants forward can create better long-term relationships with employers with the potential for recurring revenue.

In addition, many employers tend to stick with the same one or two agencies because of time constraints or concerns about perceived “bad” practices across the recruitment industry. This can make it very hard for smaller or less well-known agencies to get in front of employers. Raising standards across the recruitment industry as a whole will help all agencies increase the number of new business opportunities they receive by creating a more level playing field.

Creating a functioning symbiotic relationship
It is clear that recruiters and employers need a better way to work together, whether it is simply by communicating better with each other or by using an online recruitment marketplace. Both parties obviously need each other and while they both have different goals; recruiters want revenue and employers want to decrease the time to hire, both lead to the same outcome of the right candidate placed in the right job. By working together, recruiters and HR can ensure smarter interactions. This means less administration and better targeted CVs, saving both parties valuable time and money. Helping employers reduce hiring time and helping recruiters to improve their reputation, increase their quality and hopefully increase their new business will create a win-win situation for everyone.

Virginia Raemy is CEO of TalentPuzzle

One Response

  1. HR and Recruiters

    I couldn’t agree more with Virginia.
    The relationship between HR and Recruiters has remained much the same for the last 20 years, whereas many other aspects of recruitment as a whole have changed tremendously (Job Boards, In-House, RPO, Social Media).


    Thankfully there are now sites dedicated to releasing the market from the grip of the annually reviewed PSL-which has always been a bit of a necessary evil, hopelessly inefficient/expensive, but which is now effectively redundant.

    If you’re going to use Recruiters then at the very least consider some or all of the following free sites to achieve substantial benefits in terms of cost-savings and candidate access.

    — Regards David Palmer Connect confidentially to the open recruitment marketplace. Mob: 07880 736263 #vacancyclearing



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