Hiring the best soul for the role

By Donna McIntyre

Recruitment agencies can save time and trim clients' costs.
Recruitment agencies can save time and trim clients' costs.

DIY recruitment can be unwise. Donna McIntyre explains why.

In challenging economic times, with corporate spends closely monitored, companies can be tempted to cut recruitment budgets and look to their HR departments to take on the responsibility of recruitment.

But slashing recruitment budgets can be a case of false economies.

Howard Ross, general manager in Auckland for recruitment agency Momentum, says, "I think that companies are cutting their recruitment budgets by doing it themselves but they are not looking at the consequences of doing that. Yes, they might be able to fill the position themselves but are they getting the absolute best people in the market to take their organisation in the direction they want to go - or do they want to be an average organisation?

"Some clients have budgetary pressure put on them from above; they are saying to their managers 'you find the person yourself'.

"They are dumbing down such an important decision for the business and, nothing against the in-house teams or HR, they simply don't have the ability to tap the total talent pool like we do."

Recruitment agencies' advantage is that they are continuously engaging with potential employees in specialist markets.

Mike Dickson, manager of Hudson's Wellington agency, says: "Recruitment agencies maintain a strong network of people in the market place who aren't necessarily looking or look only when the right opportunity comes up."

Ross adds, "Those people will tend to be highly successful in their roles currently and they are not your sort of people who want to respond to an ad. They are more likely to trust a recruiter to say this opportunity is right for you; for your career I think it is a cultural fit."

"Recruitment agencies also know how to select talent and often specialise in particular areas, whereas an organisation's HR department might generalise," Dickson says.

It is also important to manage the recruitment process well to get the full potential from new employees.

"You can't see recruitment only as a transaction to just get the job filled," says Dickson. "If the recruitment experience is poor, there is three times less of a chance of an individual performing at the level expected in the role.

"The most important advice we give to organisations is to be really clear on what your culture is because cultural fit is the highest determiner of performance.

"You can focus on their skills and experience but you still need to have the right cultural fit."

Also, firms can save time by using a recruitment company. "They have their day jobs to do and the benefits are the recruitment companies have a wider pool of talent, speed to market, and it also helps with confidentiality of the process, when there is sensitive recruitment to do," says Dickson. "Maybe you want to approach individuals not in the market place who might be working for your competitors."

Vital to successful recruiting is having companies define their EVP - employer value proposal.

Dickson says if an organisation is strong, it will have a clear EVP. "The first thing we ask customers is what's it like to work there. Because that is what the job candidates will ask and that is especially important in today's market, which is very talent short."

Another area in-house recruiting can struggle with, says Ross, is defining mission-critical roles and which roles are easy to fill. He says if it is a key role and/or talent is hard to find, employers sell themselves short by thinking they can do the job without specialist help. "They will get an average response."

Also, recruiters and their clients both need to communicate clearly to get the best possible results.

"First and foremost is to understand the client's business," says Ross. "We meet with the client and understand exactly and strategically the direction they are heading, what is the culture, all those sort of things. The briefing process is critical. I have to understand you as a client, how things may change in your business and likewise for the candidate."

Candidates, too, must decide if they really want the new role, if this position is best for them, whether they will accept a counter-offer.

After hiring, comes onboarding. "I think onboarding is underrated in the market," says Ross. "We have always done it and we have taken it to another level by developing an in-depth onboarding process which starts from the moment the person has accepted the role and continues for a year to make sure that person is really well integrated into an organisation and will come up to being productive quicker."

Agencies also monitor and assess the recruitment process. "That is when the feedback process starts. We ask the client how they found the person, did it fit the brief, what's your opinion. We ask the candidate how they found the interview. Going back to the career conversation we had with them, does it fit their aspirations of what they want to do? You make sure you are managing that candidate properly to make them feel like they are being looked after."

And Ross says his firm walks the talk in its own hiring policies. "Even for ourselves at Momentum we use recs-to-recs to hire our recruitment consultants. We use Jonathan Rice. He has career conversations with recruiters around the country. If we throw an ad on Seek we might get an okay response and get lucky and get the right person; but we have identified that to get the best recruitment consultant in the marketplace who is going to serve our business, we need to pay a rec-to-rec agency to find that individual. And some of the people Jonathan has placed with us, there is no way that we could find them ourselves. We are kind of practising what we preach."

- NZ Herald

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