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Cath Everett

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Survey reveals dissatisfaction with recruitment agencies


Nearly three quarters of employers find it difficult to find good recruitment agencies, while a huge nine out of ten believe that recruitment processes take too long.

These are the findings of a survey among 250 UK business owners and HR professionals undertaken by research firm Vanson Bourne and commissioned by TalentPuzzle, an online marketplace, which currently has 429 registered recruiters on its books.

The study indicated that, although a surprising 88% of respondents planned to take on a significant number of permanent staff over the next six months, nearly three quarters would use only a handful of recruitment agencies to help them.

This was because the often high levels of investment required in time and money terms to manage multiple agencies meant that organisations were willing to risk limiting their pool of potential job candidates by not casting their net wider.

Virginia Raemy, TalentPuzzle’s chief executive, said: "Currently employers are caught in a Catch 22 situation when it comes to recruitment. They recognise the importance of recruiting the right people, but many simply don’t have the time to properly devote to it."

As a result, a huge 86% of those questioned said that, if they were able to source good recruitment agencies more effectively, not only would their lives be easier but the quality of candidates would likely improve.

5 Responses

  1. How to find the best recuitment agencies

    Hi Lee,

    I just wanted to expand on your thoughts about how to find the best recruitment agencies. We realize that this is a challange for a lot of SMEs especially when looking for specialist positions. One way TalentPuzzle can help with that challange is that each agency gets rated and reviewed by all the employers who have worked with them. So, there is up-to-date user feedback on the performance of each agency which helps the client make a decision on whom to work with.



  2. Resourcing v Selection

    There are many interesting comments here from two sides of this equation.

    The argument that recruitment agencies provide a poor level of service is if course subjective and is often used to hide a lack of knowledge on the part of the recruiter when it comes to understanding the job role specification, the team fit requirements of a new employee, and the hard and soft skill requirements of the job.

    As with all things there will be good, average and bad at all levels.

    This argument fits well with recent surveys that suggest talent management is a big issue and if the HR department really does not have information available about internal talent then it is also quite possible they will not have a complete understanding of the job role requirements necessary to meet the strategic needs of the business.

    Discussing this level of detail assumes a large company structure and high level resources in HR to build a talent management program.

    I would tend to believe the problems occur in much smaller organisations where managers take on the role of HR and have liitle experience in practical recruitment processes. It is at this level that the selection of a recruiter or agency becomes more important where the internmediary takes on the role of advisor and project manager to ensure that the company selects the person that meets the business requirements for the future not just the present. This of course involves the recruiting manager making time to involve the third party to be able to create the primary requirement – a succinct job description.

    The cost of recruiting is also an issue – too much time in my opinion is spent trying to negotiate lower and lower rates from agencies rather then considering the overall cost of getting the recruitment wrong.

    Whilst many agencies specialise in vertical sector recruitment – ie medical, IT or some other, there is still a great deal to be said for using more than one, possibly through a specialist project management intermediary. A great deal of market information can be gleaned under these conditions as each agency wants to secure the placement and will provide differing views of a potential candidates worth in a very competitive market.

    I therefore believe the decision is a matter of "horses for courses" depending on the knowledge and experience that exists within the recruiting organisation and the services that can be provided by the agency or intermediary.

    We have found that a role now clearly exists for the specialist function to assist both the agency and the recruiter without adding significant initial cost to the client and reducing the opportunity to get things wrong in the longer term.


  3. When less is more rather than Why less is more?

    I believe there are 2 recruitment issues that need to be addressed here: 


    1. Sourcing.

    2. Selection. 

    When it comes to sourcing, 100 agencies are going to have a collectively bigger candidate pool to refer to than 1 agency.

    When it comes to selection it’s entirely conceivable that 1 well chosen agency is going to do a better job than the other 99.

    The choice hiring companies can now make is whether their recruitment issue is mostly a sourcing issue or a selection one.

    The emergence of “Market Makers” like and others-see list below- means that hiring companies have more options. In fact the market makers enable hiring companies to find those agencies that Lee refers to by putting job vacancies out to “tender”. It should suit recruiters like Lee down to the ground.

    At we address both the sourcing and the selection issues differently. Instead of putting jobs out to tender, we take an “Open Market” approach. Any approved recruiter can supply a CV. This means you could have 100s of recruiters looking for your candidates. The job advertiser at this stage is anonymous, so there are no issues around unwanted sales calls or brand dilution. We then deal with the selection issue by appointing a Project Manager (specialist recruiter) to process all applications on behalf of the advertiser. We hope it offers the best of both worlds.

    I’m more than happy to discuss PM work with Lee.

    Other Market Makers list:

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


  4. Dissatisfaction with recruitment agencies

    Very well put Lee – as ever!

    I very much agree that resourcing managers should seek input from new hires – I have met with many recruitment agencies and have had some very mixed experiences. I would be only too happy to feed back to any new employer on how well a particular agency handled me. However I have never been asked – I wonder why? In future I think I shall offer this up anyway and see what happens!!

    Martine Young

  5. Why less is more when it comes to choosing a recruitment partner

    I find the results of this survey interesting and wholly disagree with the notion that organisations are taking a risk by not casting their net wider than ‘only a handful of recruitment agencies’.

    The recruitment industry has been paralysed for years by the popular belief that the formula:

    more agencies = more candidates = higher probability of successful hire actually works.

    Your typical agency will operate a ‘fastest-finger-first’ race to get CVs in front of the client, where decisions are based on speed and not on all the things that should matter – ability, track record, performance, results, personality, cultural fit.  If you’re paying 15, 30 or even 30% of base salary, the least you can expect is that the recruiter has actually met the candidate, right?

    When a hiring manager chooses a carefully selected recruitment partner, the experience is often entirely different.  In return for you giving us your commitment, you also get ours and everything that goes with it.  So we will go out of our way to drill down into the person spec and advise you on where these people are likely to be found and the package you need to be paying to attract them.  We will put together a carefully crafted advert and select the right (not ALL available) channels and/or social media to support the attraction strategy.  We will do far more than search our database.  We will tap into the networks that we spend years cultivating and nurturing to identify the best candidates.  And we will also spend our time meeting these people, putting them through a competency-based selection process and match them not only on technical skills and ability, but on cultural fit.  Finally we will use our positive working relationship to become champions of your organisation and therefore a truly valuable recruitment partner.

    One in-person briefing with the recruitment agency and you get so more for your money.

    So how do you find the good recruitment agencies?  Here are 3 suggestions to get you started:

    • Ask your newest team members – after all they are likely to have had the most recent experience of using agencies from ‘the other side’.  Who impressed them?
    • Turn to your own network and talk to your top 3 trusted contacts and seek their recommendations – they might even know someone suitable for the job;
    • Spent some time using LinkedIn, look around the discussions in the specialist groups and find the recruiters who spend their time contributing to the communities they belong to.  Do they offer solutions?  Do they consult with their audience? Are they actively contributing and not just posting job ads?


    @leeburman on Twitter



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