Why it made sense for me to go back to a Recruiting Agency…
“Like many others, I found myself in the world of recruitment by chance. It was never a career choice, nor was it something which I proclaimed I would be once I grew up. But here I am 5 years later.
I have learned a lot about the industry over the years and my aim here is to help any of you that may be at the crossroads in your recruitment career. When my journey began, Linkedin Recruiter was just starting to take a stronghold as the go-to tool for Recruiters. Luckily, I worked for an early adopter of technology so I was able to leverage the reach of LinkedIn Recruiter before many of my competitors and clients alike had the tool.
As time went on, I began to see a bit of an exodus. Many of my peers across the industry began to leave their posts to join an internal team. As an observer of all of the movement, I had conversations with some of whom had left the agency scene to see how they were finding it. I learned that they had access to many of the tools I used, including Linkedin Recruiter, therefore they did not require the databases agencies used to gain clients. I thought to myself, what competitive advantage do I have now? If I can longer leverage my unparalleled access to talent what help can I be to those who use the same tactics to find talent? How much longer will recruiting agencies be viable in business?
Lo and behold an internal recruiter from a company nearby sent me a very well written message on Linkedin calling me to join an internal team with a seemingly boundless opportunity. So I made the switch! I had seen very early, and consistent success as an agency recruiter and vowed that I would not need any agency help since I had the experience and access my old buddies at the agency. Sound like any of you? How wrong I was.
Within a matter of months, the training wheels were off and I found myself swimming in headcount needs. It seemed like every department was being held together with glue and popsicle sticks, everyone had a need for more help and my job was to help put the fires out with talent. Help! If memory serves me, I filled more than 80 openings within my first year. Yet still, my efforts still came up short.
My employer had many open positions, usually between 40-70 open requisitions, so the frequency of calls, emails, unannounced visits, hand-written notes, wine, cookies to get me to talk to various recruiters from agencies made me hesitant to answer a ringing phone or attend a BBQ if I knew one of them would be there. Recruiters, if nothing else, are persistent!
Yet still, I had managers who very much needed help, and I did not have the bandwidth to supply them with the candidates these managers so desperately needed. How could this be? I had the ability to seek out the people with the skill sets, and I knew the ins and outs of what my hiring managers liked to see and the tools to go out and find the talent. To my dismay, having the advantage of being an internal recruiter, and the same access to talent my agency counterparts used was still not enough.
I thought that the days were numbered for agency recruiters, yet the sanity of some of my managers put me in a position to rethink my previous prediction. The main reason that an agency will have a purpose in business for at least the foreseeable future is their ability to have employ specialists. What I mean by this is, employing a focused recruiter who only works within one single discipline. As an internal recruiter, I covered all of the technology, sales, finance and product needs of my company and everything else in-between!
While I had the ability to find a new Data Scientist I might only have to fill that position once or twice in a year. As needs change, I would have to shift gears. The result of shifting my efforts after each fill, being able to think of the best Data Scientist in my network and have that person’s resume in my CTOs hands in a matter of hours would be no small feat. However, to someone who only works with Data Scientists day in, day out as a specialist a quick turn around like the previously described scenario would be a walk in the park.
Now, some years later, here are some things that can help serve you to become a true partner to a business:
- Don’t send FAKE candidates to a prospective client to drum up interest.
- Don’t rely on job postings, and consider a measure of your work by the volume of resumes you are able to send. Instead, focus on the percentage of how many of your candidates get interviews.
- Specialize in what you do. As an agency recruiter, your goal should be to get your candidates as many interviews as possible. If you are a jack of all trades it becomes a disservice to the candidates you work with.
- Consult. The only way to be able to consult is to truly know your speciality. If you are not a specialist, how can you truly advise on compensation, time to hire, interview process? The goal is to not bump up the salary because your manager tells you to, or shorten the interview process because it shortens your sales cycle. Your mission is to be able to set realistic expectations and ensure that your clients are doing everything they can to attract the talent they need.
Here I am a changed man. I am back at an agency with clarity leading a team now. Previously, I thought that the days of the recruiting agency had an expiration date. Now I understand while the agencies who don’t specialize and hope that a hire will come by the sheer volume of resumes may not be able to compete with the recruiters who work for companies who harbour the value of being specialists. Quality over quantity will always save the day. For this reason, I have found such a company, Austin Fraser.”
Don Townsend, Regional Leader, Dallas