Are recruitment agencies expendable?As an increasing number of industries see skills shortages in the UK talent pool, now is the time that employers need to take ownership of their recruitment processes. Unfortunately, recruitment, across the board, has a bad name, and all too often the process is inefficient, poorly managed and produces unsatisfactory results.  Recruitment can be time consuming and costly so it is beneficial to everyone involved to get the process right whether using an in-house recruitment team or the services of an agency.

It is all too easy to blame recruiters for unsuitable placements, but what if employers could manage the process better and learn how to get the best out of their recruitment practices both in-house and agency? It’s true that agencies should follow a rule of best practice but clients too need to take more responsibility for the recruitment process by not only working alongside the agency but also managing the agency relationship and raising expectations.

Putting in the work upfront when recruiting can save a lot of time and energy in the long run. Employers just need to know how to get the most out of their recruitment teams and specialists to ensure a smooth and successful process.

Encourage good recruitment practice

There is no doubt there are some unscrupulous recruitment agencies out there. Blanket mailing of CVs with no prior permissions, unsuitable and inexperienced candidates, limited knowledge of the role or client and unethical contractual terms can be commonplace. Clients need to expect more of their chosen agency. Contract Law and ‘Effective Cause’ are just two of the principals which are in place to protect employers from unethical recruitment practice but many are unaware of the law. Employers should consider familiarising themselves with the basics when using the services of a recruitment agency and prevent encouraging a “Fastest CV first” approach. Too many clients accept a poor service, often in desperation to fill roles. With so many industries in the UK feeling the effects of skills shortages, this can no longer be an acceptable practice.  Expect more from your agencies and challenge their knowledge and processes and you will find the best ones will rise to the challenge.

Build a strong relationship with your agency

When using an agency, they should work as an extension of your HR department taking a collaborative approach to ensure a thorough recruitment process is maintained. Choosing an agency with industry knowledge and expertise specific to your sector is key but spend time and engage with these firms to allow them to learn about your business, it nuances and culture. Regularly review the relationships and make sure they provide you with the right management information to measure their success.  Why not place your agencies in a league table, visible to all and update this regularly. You’ll be surprised how quickly competition can drive up service and standards and trim out the poor performers

Get the interview right

Whether using an agency or not, the interview process is an area where employers need to work hard to promote their organisation. Remember you should be doing as much to impress the candidate, as they are to impress you so make sure your interview process reflects this. Yes, it must be challenging but also try to ensure that every candidate that leaves the interview, wants to work for you, regardless of their suitability. Use the interview as an opportunity to promote and ‘sell’ the company image to the candidate. Also, if using an agency, talk to your consultant about the candidate. The agency should be able to advise you both before and after the interview on what buttons to press, should you want to secure the hire.  Many employers fail to provide a strong interview process leaving candidates feeling disengaged or uninterested in taking a role with a company even if offered a job. Use the interview as an opportunity to really outline the important features of your company. Remember, in the current market, candidates have a choice – make sure the right candidate chooses your business over a competitor.

Make the right offer

If you want to hire the candidate and can afford to offer a higher salary than they are being paid in an existing role, offer it upfront. Too often, clients withhold the higher salary trying to save money, until the candidate has rejected the first offer. In the meantime, the candidate is offered and accepts a higher salary from a competitor or accepts an increased offer from their current employer to stay in their existing role. On average, it costs an employer £5000-£10,000 to recruit and train a new hire. It is unsurprising then, particularly in markets where skilled candidates are limited, counter-offers from existing employers are commonplace. If employers genuinely want to attract the best candidates and keep them, they need to ensure the offer is attractive.  Remember too that many candidates are interested in more than just the starting salary but also the progression opportunities going forward. If you want to attract the right candidates, don’t just focus on the salary but on the additional employee benefits and long-term opportunities available within your organisation.

Ensure a robust onboarding process

Clients need to remember that the process of recruiting new employees into your organisation does not end at the job offer. Many candidates accept an offer but then fail to show up on day one. The client should maintain a level of engagement with the candidate after the offer is accepted to ensure commitment and relieve any doubts the candidate may be having about leaving an existing role.

A robust process ensures new employees feel engaged with the employer and committed to the company goals. The process can include a company induction, health & safety session, company history and future objectives, initial and ongoing training opportunities and informative reading or learning materials to support the employers message. A robust onboarding process has been linked to increased job satisfaction, enhanced performance and higher employee retention in the long run so it is a valuable tool in attracting and retaining the best talent.





Simon Girling is founder and director of Girling Jones Recruitment – specialist recruiters in the Construction, Property, FM and Engineering sectors. Simon founded Girling Jones, based in Exeter, following more than a decade working in recruiter and recruitment management roles in London agencies. He began his recruitment career as a trainee with Hill McGlynn / Randstad working his way up to management level for the construction and facilities management teams.
After a successful London career, Simon decided to move his family to Devon where he started Girling Jones with the desire to create an agency that delivered a high-quality service to clients in an ethical way. Simons ethos for his agency is ‘best to work with and best to work for’ and he is passionate about not only providing an excellent service to his clients, but also providing development and ongoing opportunities for his team.
When not in the office, Simon enjoys exploring the Devon countryside with his wife and two children.