It still surprises me that many employers don't always know if recruitment could benefit them, or whether they should simply advertise their jobs directly. So, how do recruitment services differ from direct jobsite / website advertising campaigns?
The key factors when choosing a recruitment agency are TIME and COST. Yep, you read that right, cost is absolutely a reason to use an agency instead of advertising directly, recruitment can actually be more cost effective, but we'll get to that later. Like most services, you get what you pay for, so direct recruitment through advertising is a great budget option because you do all the legwork yourself. Hiring staff this way is the traditional route and gives you full control of the process, but it can be time consuming, bringing us to our first point.
Do you have the time to find your own staff?
If you do, then give it a go unless you are recruiting for very niche or 'in-demand' skills. You will need to write an engaging, legally compliant job ad (research a little, to ensure you post it in places likely to reach your desired applicants - Facebook Jobs is a great free service for this). Allocate time to taking queries by phone and email, going through applications, shortlisting your top choices, rejecting unsuccessful applicants (ideally with some constructive feedback) and spend time contacting all those you wish to meet with in order to arrange meetings. All this before you even begin the interview process!
If this seems like a lot of time to take away from your day to day duties, then a recruitment consultancy will handle all of the above on your behalf. At Sunshine Recruitment Solutions for example, we take care of the whole process from beginning to end.
The D.I.Y route can also take much longer to engage the applicants you need which can be problematic if your vacancy is urgent. Recruiters spend all day, every day sourcing talent, so when you call them they have options right away, options that are skills matched to your needs. Often these are applicants who would not naturally respond to an advert, known in the industry as 'passive applicants' (individuals who are in work and not actively searching for new roles through job-sites, relying instead on an agency to match them with relevant opportunities.)
Dependant on requirements, I do sometimes advise my clients to try advertising first before instructing a recruitment service, but only if I think they'll get a good response, because lets be honest, hiring new staff can be costly. In my opinion the WORST scenario as an employer sourcing staff, is to spend money advertising your role directly, only to then instruct an agency anyway. So before you allocate your budget, ask yourself;
Am I likely to fill this role with an advert?
Factors to take into account here are skills, urgency and competition. If you are looking for a rare skill set and you are not already naturally attracting speculative applicants, chances are an advert won't do the trick, plus the more adverts you try, the more expensive it gets. I speak with employers who have spent thousands on advertising, through print and social media, on job-sites and Linkedin, only to end up with zero relevant applicants. Had those employers used a recruitment firm at the start of the process, they would have actually saved money (and of course time)!
The reverse is also true, if your company naturally attracts applicants when you do not have vacancies, you are likely to do well out of a direct advertising campaign. Job-hunters clearly identify with your brand and an agency would be overkill! Equally, if your role is not highly skilled, and there are plenty of relevant applicants out there with the skills you need (customer service, retail and front of house hospitality roles are good examples) then you are likely to have plenty of choice from advertising on a jobsite or in the local paper.
If talented candidates in your sector are like gold dust (good examples are software development, engineering and medical professions) get straight onto a specialist agency, or a recruiter who focuses on your geographical location. They will have a head start on available applicants AND importantly they will know about the competition (other companies looking for similar skills) and will be able to champion your role, one on one, ensuring engagement with your target market from the start.
I mentioned at the start, you get what you pay for, and in recruitment that is so true. What many employers do not realise, is that with the majority of recruitment firms, if you cannot find what you need, you don't pay a penny (be aware some agencies do charge retainers, for very niche markets). Sure you might not find your perfect candidate, but you will have kept your budget, the same cannot be said for advertising, once you spend that marketing budget, it's gone whether you get 100 applicants or none!
It's also worth noting when discussing fees, that recruiters also usually have a 'rebate period' to protect your investment (ours at Sunshine is 8 weeks). This means that if in the early stages of a contract, a new member of the team doesn't work out (or accepts an alternative job offer) you can actually reclaim some or all of your fee. This safety net can be very reassuring when on-boarding new staff.
There is no definitive system that works for every business, so when you have a vacancy looming, take the time to ask yourself the two important questions Do I have the time to recruit? and Am I likely to find my employee via an advert? If the answers are both yes, don't be afraid to recruit directly by yourself but, if the answer is no, to both of these, I'd recommend getting an agency you trust on the case straight away!
Founder - Sunshine Recruitment Solutions
Founder of Sunshine Recruitment Solutions, Fellow of the Institute of Recruitment Professionals