According to a recent report published by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the relationship between agency recruiters and employers is becoming progressively complex. This is something we’ve witnessed ourselves, as our industry continues to evolve in response to the ongoing struggle for employers seeking scarce skills in a competitive environment.

HR professionals are increasingly savvy to the opportunities available when seeking to reduce costs and raise efficiency; from depending on agencies for small elements of HR function to outsourcing entire components, clients want to know that they are getting value for money.

The REC suggests certain tactics that could help agency recruiters prove their worth, including demonstrating expert knowledge of the market, improving candidate communication and looking at introducing new technology, such as video and Skype. But it doesn’t end there, REC CEO Kevin Green says recruiters must “up their game” overall. “Recruiters need to be at the forefront of new sourcing approaches, able to provide market data their clients don’t have access to and demonstrate how they can deliver more value and better outcomes,” Green remarked.

This is something recruitment outsourcing partners have offered for some time, providing a service that gives an end-to-end solution. An evolution of this is something we’ve termed strategic recruitment outsourcing (SRO), and it’s an approach that has enabled us to get far closer to key decision makers, ensuring that recruitment feeds in to the overarching business strategy to best serve the organisation’s needs.

Recruitment agencies looking to enhance their offering on the back of the REC’s report should work with an SRO that has established this level of trust with their client. The best SROs will have strategic involvement at board level, which means they – and those within their supply chain – can potentially influence the way that organisation recruits. Why is this important for recruiters? If an agency holds expertise in hiring apprentices, for example, their SRO could feed this into their strategy and explain the real, tangible benefits of this talent pool to the employer. The agency can then confidently supply such workers as and when the need arises, rather than constantly reacting to the demands of the employer at short notice.

Having this long-term vision and ability to anticipate future needs means recruiters can do their job more effectively, which ultimately benefits all involved. As agencies look to “up their game”, this ability to set themselves apart from the competition and prove a real return on investment will become essential. In the meantime, taking a close look at how you can deliver more value to your client is never a wasted effort. Paying heed to the REC’s advice and keeping up to speed with the latest sourcing techniques and developments will surely benefit agencies and the recruitment industry as a whole.