Kate Ross: Recruiting in house or agency?

Kate Ross. Photo / Supplied
Kate Ross. Photo / Supplied

Over the past 10 to 15 years many New Zealand organisations have established in-house recruitment centres to handle their staffing needs. This trend has become increasingly popular within large private and government sector organisations.

Typically an internal resource is dedicated to recruitment and works right across the organisation.

The in-house recruiters are there to deliver a result, save time and money for the Hiring Manager as well as being an effective promoter of their employment brand. Systems and processes are established and for large organisations, that regularly have a high number of vacancies at any one time, these can be a very effective way to manage an organisation's recruitment needs.

Recruitment agencies will work with the in-house recruitment teams should they require assistance to find quality candidates for a position and/or do not have the resource available if timeframes are tight.

In-house and agency recruiters both put a lot of effort into developing an effective working relationship and it can be very successful when the communication is clear and each party understands what their role is.

Frustration sets in when the relationship becomes too transactional. Some common complaints are either the agency is not listening to the brief and delivering inappropriate candidates or the in-house team is being unclear on exactly the type of candidate they require. You can see why this would happen - a manager has given a brief to the in-house recruiter already so why should they have to sit down with an external recruiter to do the same thing again?

An agency will always be able to find a higher calibre of candidate if they have some time with the line manager, however if the in-house recruiter has taken an in-depth brief and can clearly articulate what is required then this step can be avoided.

Speed can be a critical component from the briefing process to the candidate being interviewed by the line manager. A strong partnership approach between the agency and the in-house recruitment team is vital in order for the organisation to hire the right person. The agency is consulting with the client and advising them on the strategies that need to be adopted to find this elusive candidate, their fit into the organisation and what the organisation has to offer to secure this highly sort after candidate.

Clearly the in-house team are looking for a person that is not easy to find, so the way the agency engages with the candidate and how that process is managed through the in-house recruitment teams is a very important aspect of a successful partnership. A lack of an effective partnership and a transactional relationship will often result in the top talent being placed elsewhere.

How can both parties improve the agency and in-house recruiter relationship? A strong understanding of each others requirements is vital to a successful relationship. A successful partnership will exist when the in-house team knows in advance the types of positions that are hard to recruit for and invest time with the agency so they can implement the strategies in advance that will identify the top talent in the market. Giving the agency recruiter accessibility to a Hiring Manager who regularly recruits before they receive a brief is an effective way to manage time and avoid unnecessary delays.

An agency should be delivering a candidate short list which meets the job brief and avoid at all costs sending a large number of candidates in the hope that one might be right. This wastes the in-house recruitment teams time and the agency will quickly have the 'tap turned off' if they take this approach. Expectation of service delivery is agreed right from the beginning of the in-house/agency relationship.

Debrief after the recruitment process to ensure continuous improvements are implemented is another key component.

There is a huge amount of time invested by the in-house teams and the agencies to understand each other and develop an effective partnership. A change of job can be one of the most stressful processes someone can go through so a seamless approach is critical in order for a candidate to be truly engaged with their potential employer.

As the fight for the top talent continues to intensify in the New Zealand market, an investment in a true partnership by each party is vital if an organisation wants to have the best people working for them and achieve the goals they have set for themselves.

Kate Ross

Kate Ross is director of Kinetic Recruitment

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