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Workshop report: Service standards and recruitment agencies

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Jon Seaton

Hi Carrol, Annemarie…

Carrol Rowe

Hello

Jon Seaton

Today’s topic is ‘Service Standards and Recruitment Agancies’

Annemarie

Hello – I must apologise in advance, I am talking to trainingzone about hosting a workshop – so I hope you don’t mind if I sit in to get a feel for how things work – let me know if you find this intrusive.

Jon Seaton

No that’s fine Annemarie

Annemarie

Thanks – I may add a few cents as well!

Jon Seaton

Shall we start with brief introductions?….I’m the editor for HR Zone! and consequently have a wide HR interest of which recruitment is a part

Carrol Rowe

Yes, I am IT Training Editor, TrainingZONE and also always looking at widening knowledge of happenings in training and HR in general

Jon Seaton

This topic was suggested by a member of HR Zone who cannot be here today…she got a new job through a recruitment agency but not after some very varied treatment…or should I say only after very varied treatment!

Annemarie

I must admit I haven’t worked with many agencies, but I hear they have a reputation for pushing people through.

Jon Seaton

Her concerns were that there doesn’t appear to be any common service standards between agencies and clients or between agencies and job applicants

Jon Seaton

Do you think that its a numbers game for them Annemarie?

Annemarie

that’s because most of them just get paid for filling the slot – much like estate agents – stock brokers, etc. It’s transaction remuneration.

Carrol Rowe

I found them very impersonal

Annemarie

Saying that, I have a sister in the States who does PR recruitment, but works at high levels of management, where repeat business is key and you must maintain a high standard because they will continue to be your client.

Jon Seaton

Are there any suggestions you could make where they could improve their service?

Annemarie

It’s a small(ish) entrepeneurial agency whose name has been built by the owner – their biggest problem is letting go of control and delegation. Or I should say the entrepeneur has problems letting go of control

Jon Seaton

Perhaps the control factor contributes to the service quality? But maybe not so good for the agency employees!

Annemarie

I think their service quality is very good, it’s a problem keeping the numbers up and maintaining the standard. It’s definitely not great for the agency employees – mainly frustration seems to emerge.

Jon Seaton

Should an agency restrict the number of applicants for a position? Maybe concentrating on quality rather than numbers? It would mean agreeing the applicant quality parameters with the client company

Annemarie

I think that will always (unfortunately) come down to economics – if you are placing someone where the fee you will get is fairly low you have to have high turnover – but what agencies should look at is developing relationships, because let’s face it (generally speaking) people move up ladders, and if you were a young agency you could mature with that business. But now we are talking about agencies that have some control. But saying all this I’m no expert in this field – I’ve thought that in some ways recruitment could be a satisfying job – As far as agreeing on applicant quality parameters – presumably that already happens?

Jon Seaton

I think your comment is correct. It’s sometimes easier to remember the higher profile recruiters with the bigger fees… and forget that there are many smaller agencies with smaller contracts forming their bread and butter income. I’m not sure about the applicant quality parameters already being set! It would be nice to think so…but it’s a communication process that takes place in a fast paced world. I suspect that client companies and agencies don’t always talk as they should.

Carrol Rowe

Wouldn’t they have to be set between the agency and customer to ensure they get right applicant?

Annemarie

Now that is something I can talk about – I work with teams and communication is a big part of it – inter and intra teams

Annemarie

I can understand your point about agency and customer not communicating – people who ‘work’ together everyday rarely do – but not communicating usually creates your biggest problems

Jon Seaton

Yes that’s my point Carrol. In my recent example, one applicant was interviewed whilst the agency interviewer sat at his desk with his feet up eating fish and chips! Had the client company set any standards for the agency to follow?

Annemarie

That example is a complete outrage – if I were the client company – i’d fire that agency immediately!

Annemarie

and would you want to work for a company that hires an agency like that? or was the company unaware of the problem?

Carrol Rowe

This I feel is common, having sat at the other end of the agency interviewer – felt that I was wasting their time

Jon Seaton

I don’t know if the company was aware. They maybe assumed a certain level of service. Suffice to say that they were an international banking group… my point is though, that a large banking group should have minimum standards for any agency that they use …had this been communicated to the agency?

Carrol Rowe

The bigger the agency, the less personal

Jon Seaton

I guess we’ll never know, but should there be industry norms? Should all companies be able to rely on an industry standard that are spelt out by the industry itself?

Annemarie

I agree – most definitely – unfortunately I need to sign off at this point – thanks for letting me sit in

Jon Seaton

OK it’s probably time to close down now. Bye!

Carrol Rowe

Yes, thank you for this Jon, it was interesting, bye

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Thank you.