JEM Retail Consultants providing services in buying and merchandising, Programme Management, IT services and Logistics & Warehousing.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Social Media or Recruitment Agencies?

The opportunity to reduce recruitment costs by finding candidates through the use of social media has never been more appealing. With agencies taking anywhere between 15% and 30% of first year salary the option of direct recruitment would seem far more cost effective. But is this always the case?


Amongst a number of things I have in common with my colleagues at JEM Retail Consultants is that we have all done more recruitment of people on behalf of the companies that we have worked for than we have been recruited and we have each had a lot of approaches as a result of our LinkedIn profiles. Between us we have also dealt with a large number of recruitment agencies as both recruiter and candidate.

This got me thinking both about the optimum way to recruit new talent as well as the best way to find the next opportunity myself. Figures validated in studies conducted by The Institute if Interim Management and The Interim Management Association suggest that the average day rate for interim managers is between £600 and £700. On a typical assignment of 8 months this could mean paying an agency fee of around £26k, making sourcing your own candidates a very attractive proposition.

Information provided in The Interim Report for 2013 published by Executives Online shows that 52% of clients would initially "See if I can find one myself, within my own or my colleagues' circle of contacts." This is consistent with the experience of interim managers themselves: "Almost two thirds sourced projects themselves, but over a third were making use of interim or recruitment providers to find work".

The same survey, however, found that 47% of clients in 2013 would "prefer to make use of a recruitment or provider company of some sort". This is a significant increase from just 25% in 2011.

Recommendations from people you trust have to be one of the best ways of finding new people as well as new opportunities and this is as true of agencies as it is of your personal contacts. To add value to the recruitment process the agency you use should send you a small number of high quality candidates, all of whom fit the requirement providing an efficient recruitment process and a higher chance of candidate acceptance and retention.

I get very nervous when I am contacted by multiple agencies in connection with the same role as it suggests that the client doesn't have a strong relationship with the agency and is employing a "scatter-gun" effect hoping to hit lucky. I am also worried, both as a recruiter and a candidate, if the agency hasn't taken the time to meet the person they are putting forward beforehand.

For many years now (more then either of us care to remember) I have worked with Mary Anderson Ford from Aqua Retail. From our first acquaintance Mary represented, in my view, the height of good practice by taking the time to understand both how I work and the culture of the business I am representing. As a result she became a trusted referral expert and I can rely on the fact that she has already checked the technical expertise and obtained "soft" references for each candidate I see.

In the same way, if she talks to me about a new role, I can be certain that it will be of interest and that I would be a good fit. The rest is down to me.

That is how agencies can add real value to the recruitment process. My advice would be to find an agency partner who takes the time and effort to do their research well and really understand you, your business and the role you want to fulfil. That is worth the money.

Written by Erica Vilkauls: Director JEM Retail Consultants.

1 comment:

  1. For the past 4 years, I have been 'the recruiter' and I couldn't agree more with your take on the situation. When working with a recruitment agency, they have to understand not only the requirements of the role but also the culture of the business and whether candidates would be a 'good fit'. At the end of the day, it is not just about the candidate's technical ability, it is also about whether any new colleague will work well with you, their immediate team and the wider corporate team. In my experience, any recruitment agency must have a thorough understanding of the nature and culture of the business and that takes time, effort, research etc.