All recruitment agencies aren’t created equal…
There are certain professions that seem to be the “go to” for comedians when it comes to creating a bad guy that the audience can all focus on. Estate agents spring to mind. As do lawyers. And, perhaps only slightly down on the list, are recruiters. Ask many people who have used them their thoughts and I’d be willing to wager that somewhere within the responses you’d get phrases such as “useless”, or “didn’t hear from them”, or “they just sent my CV out without asking!”. To be honest, the industry has matured a lot over a relatively short space of time and these perceptions are woefully out of date, but a perception is as true as the person experiencing it, so these are things that we have to take seriously.
One of the things that I keep getting asked is what the difference is between a recruitment consultant and a recruitment agency. Is one better than the other? Which offers a better return on an employers investment? And which deliver the better results? While some of the answers are subjective, the differences between consultant and agency are not.
A traditional recruitment agency (called a contingency agency) takes a brief, matches it’s database of candidates against that brief and then fires out CV’s. It’s a matchmaking service and, for some junior roles, is the best option. However, for senior management positions it most definitely isn’t. There isn’t enough thought and insight in order to make it an effective spend, in terms of both money and time.
A consultant works in a very different way to that of a contingency agency. A consultant tailors the candidate search specifically to the role. We spend time with the client and understand the organisations culture. We map the market for potential companies with which to headhunt from. Consultancies tend to offer 1-2-1 attention to the client, meaning that they can focus on getting the right person, and type of person, for the role in a more time effective manner. Think of the time it takes to go through 5 CV’s. Or 10. Or 50. This is the kind of difference that a consultant can make – cutting down massively on time intensive recruitment tasks because there’s more focus. A consultant will have a shortlist of real, viable and highly qualified candidates for a position. These candidates will have been pre-interviewed by the consultant and vetted according to some stringent rules, so only the absolute top people will be in the running which, again, means a more effective time spend.
So the next time a senior management role needs the right person to fill it, decide whether you want to go down a route of looking over lots of CV’s (of which some may not even be all that relevant), sitting through lots of interviews, and spending time away from your core business function. Or whether you want someone highly experienced and aligned with the organisations ethos and practices to be doing all the pre-interview work, and serving you up the crème de la crème of candidates so that the time, and money, is spent more effectively.