Businesses using recruitment agencies to hire staff may be missing out on exposure to almost half of prospective applicants. Fifty-one per cent of respondents to a recent survey said that due to negative experiences, they would rather apply for a position direct with a company than through a recruitment agency.
The survey of 250 New Zealand jobseekers was conducted in January by Sharon Davies of Talent Propeller, a recruitment solutions business offering software solutions and personalised service for businesses downsizing their HR teams and looking for outsourcing solutions, to ascertain the value candidates believe they get when applying for a job via a recruitment agency.
"The findings indicate a range of reasons," says Davies. "Common feedback was that there seemed to be little communication between recruitment agencies and candidates. Agencies fail to return calls and candidates often never receive feedback as to why they didn't make the grade, or recommendations for how to improve. Most jobseekers just want honest advice on 'what am I doing wrong?'".
Jane Kennelly, director of Frog Recruitment, agrees that time and time again the recruitment industry has been criticised for poor behaviour when it comes to proactive communication. However, as an example of a recruitment agency getting it right, she believes all candidates should be treated with the same level of respect and integrity as the client community.
"Our dedicated Talentology team ensures all forms of enquiry are responded to within a timely manner. Those candidates who are unsuccessful are provided feedback and are then fully immersed into our talent community so we are able to make contact for future opportunities."
Another gripe from survey respondents was a lack of transparency on the identity of the hiring company. Davies says that in today's job market people want to know who they are working for. "Looking at a job listing with recruiter branding on behalf of an anonymous client simply isn't enough information.
"Scrolling through job boards with faceless recruitment jobs is uninspiring and a turn-off if you've had bad luck previously with recruitment agencies."
Kennelly says that while on occasion the roles they work on are commercially sensitive, in which case it is necessary to be extremely confidential, transparency is at the heart of their approach.
"When advertising positions online, we prefer to include the name of the hiring organisation in the advertisement to allow candidates to make a considered decision regarding the role content and the employer brand." Her suggestion to applicants applying to a non-branded vacancy is to check that the agency has been engaged officially to manage the vacancy.
Davies says the survey shows that jobseekers aren't convinced that recruiters have a good understanding of the roles they're recruiting for, and instead are operating on the notion they should get a person into a role as quickly as possible rather than providing a fair and balanced assessment of an applicant to an employer.
"The responses indicate they think agencies are superficial about the people they hire with some saying agencies don't have applicants' best interests at heart."
Kennelly says fostering meaningful relationships with both employers and candidates is essential because the wrong appointment can cost both candidate and employer dearly. "At Frog, over 98 per cent of individuals placed in permanent positions are still in place after a year, but the industry as a whole reports a 25 per cent churn of placements within the first three months. This clearly demonstrates why getting to know jobseekers past a superficial level is vital."
A statistic that Davies believes businesses should find most worrying is that 90 per cent of candidates say if the agency is poor in its service delivery, it would affect their opinion of the business advertising the job they were applying for.
She says if a business is feeling failed by its current recruitment processes, it should consider other options. "Look for recruitment solutions that allow you to present your employer brand and promote your company as a great place to work. Find a provider that meets your needs and who you can trust."
Davies says most candidates look to agencies for support, particularly wanting help with improving their resume, interview coaching and application advice. Frog Recruitment's Talentology team offers a diverse range of advice and services such as resume commentary, interview coaching, application guidance and career transition advice.
Recruitment agencies should listen to the market, says Davies. "Jobseekers, especially the good ones, have options."
What candidates want from recruitment agencies:
• Really get to know them
• Help with their resume
• Provide interview coaching
• Give application advice
• Provide employer transparency
• Return their calls
• Give feedback when unsuccessful