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
As a working parent, one of the biggest external factors that has impacted my career is illness. Not just me getting a cold, or the odd sore throat. Real, unstoppable, plague like illness, the kind that small people (especially those in the 5 yrs and under category) like to bring home and smear around the whole family.
Recently, my family fell foul of the winter vomiting virus, it spread like wildfire through the kids school and parents are literally beside themselves with worry as we all fall like dominoes, one by one, in batches. They are anxious because something has to give, and that something, inevitably, is work. The children need to be cared for, sick buckets emptied, bedclothes washed, hands held through the night, and that's before you eventually, inevitably, succumb to the virus yourself.
I am lucky. No, I don't particularly relish the thought of another shout of 'MUMMY!!!' from upstairs! but, I am my own boss, I own my hours, I work in a way that fits round the needs of my family and the needs of my clients, and this is something I am terrifically grateful for.
It was not always this way, and in my previous work-life, even with very flexible hours and an understanding employer, I still found myself regularly worrying about how I was going to take yet another day off work to look after the kids when the usual rounds of winter illnesses took hold? Tonsillitis, Norovirus, Chicken Pox, Tonsillitis, Scarlet Fever, Flu, Tonsillitis and on it goes.
Not everyone has an understanding employer, not everyone is confident to ask for the time they need off work, as a result, the pressure and stress this can place on family units at times of illness can be immense. Our school parents forum is littered with comments from working mums and dads, trying to figure out how not to take time off and still provide care for their kids (and not everyone has superhero grandparents to take over like I do!)
I would like to urge employers to be more open and proactive with your parental workforce during times of family illness. Lots of employees are completely unaware of their parental rights, that they are entitled to TOFD (time off for dependants) from day one of their employment, and that if they have been employed for 12 months or more, then they are entitled to unpaid parental leave (with 21 days notice, not great in emergencies, but great for hospital appointments and recovery time that can be planned in advance).
Many working parents wrongly assume they must use their own annual leave allocation, or call in 'sick' themselves in order to secure the needed time, which can result in demotivated and often exhausted staff in the long run. Parental Leave and TOFD is in place to support a workforce, to allow them to fulfil their duties and still function in the workplace without unnecessary stress. It is a valuable asset to staff and employers and should be more openly discussed and promoted.
What is the difference between Parental Leave and TOFD?
Time off for dependants is to deal with unexpected situations:
It is worth noting that there is no automatic right to be paid when taking time off to care for dependants. An employer can pay staff taking parental leave or TOFD if they choose to but there is no obligation on them to do so. The issue here however is rarely financial, it is the peace of mind required to know that when your house is going down by the nose, or when your children / dependants need support, there is a system in place to ensure your job is safe while you take care of your family.
For more information on Time Off For Dependants for parents and employers you can visit
For more information on Parental Leave for parents and employers you can visit
We are taught from an early age to say please and thank you, to always think of others, to not interrupt and to wait our turn. Attention to manners and etiquette is seen internationally as a quintessentially British trait, something we can all be proud of.
It seems a shame then, that we don't always apply these useful and admirable skills to our everyday working life. For example, when it comes to the application and interview process, good old fashioned manners all too often sail out of the window! Of course, applicants mostly present themselves well, introduce themselves politely and behave impeccably at interview, but in the process surrounding the interview, both before and after, I often find myself asking "Where are your manners?"
One particular scenario that highlights this crops up all too often in recruitment, the interview cancellation, by an applicant.
It is usual for applicants to apply for more than one vacancy, therefore multiple interviews are commonplace, particularly with skilled candidates. It's only natural that some of these appointments will fall by the wayside, perhaps due to an exciting job offer or a change of heart. The reasons vary, but one thing is constant, there is always someone at the other end, an employer or recruiter, who has taken time out of their schedule, shortlisted, prepared, re-arranged and taken care to conduct that interview.
This is where etiquette and plain simple manners should come into play. It takes no real effort to pen a quick and polite e-mail to inform a potential employer that you are unable to attend interview, better still, to call them up and thank them for the opportunity and explain why you have decided to walk a different path. It seems so obvious, and polite! But what we actually see more and more of is the bane of many recruiters existence, 'the no-show'. That moment, when the clock ticks past the 'reasonably late' into the 'they aren't coming are they?'.
This is the worst case scenario for most interviewers, it messes up schedules, creates frustration and bad feeling, and it will put a black mark against the absent interviewee, closing the door to that business in the future (I already have a policy to not work with any candidate who has not shown up for interview without some prior communication, regardless of how skilled they may be).
It is difficult when looking for a new role not to become utterly focused on your own needs and anxiety, but I try to advise my applicants to always think of the person who's hiring, not the business, but the individual, and to take their needs and anxiety into account when making decisions about applications and interviews.
I'm genuinely not sure why so many people opt to simply not show up for their interviews, particularly those that have been carefully arranged, planned and confirmed. Perhaps they are too nervous, or worried that someone will be angry with them, or try to convince them to attend after all? Whatever the reason, the next time you change your mind about attending an interview, be bold, be brave and remember your manners! Say thank you, apologise for any inconvenience and give the interviewer as much notice as you possibly can.
It's the polite thing to do.
Founder of Sunshine Recruitment Solutions, Fellow of the Institute of Recruitment Professionals