How can you identify a good recruitment consultant?

A couple of weeks ago, I read “Recruitgal” Katie McNab’s blog on the mortal sins of recruitment agency cold-calling. As Client Services Executive at TalentPuzzle, I spend most of my time liaising between HR staff and recruitment agencies, and so read with great interest the complaints of one group against the other. I asked myself the question: how do you identify a good recruitment consultant?
What strikes me is that cold-calling in the recruitment industry does no-one any favours. It is often a waste of time for recruitment agencies who should be concentrating on matching candidates to jobs, and, from experience, it seems to give HR staff some kind of allergy to phone conversations in general – even with people who actually are trying to help.
At TalentPuzzle, our aim is to create a marketplace where the recruitment consultants that benefit are the ones who are good at finding the right people for the right positions, and not those who specialise in putting together a smooth sales pitch.
To this end, we’ve been developing a new rating system to more accurately reflect how “good” each agency is. But defining good has started some interesting discussions.
For example, are “good” agencies…
  • …the ones that apply themselves to each role they are working on and persevere until the right candidate is found?
  • Or the ones that specialise in a certain area?
  • Or the ones that know exactly what you’re looking for, and offer a handful of excellent candidates which meet all the essentials.
  • Or the ones that communicate well – highlight any problems with the job spec, are honest when they are unable to meet the requirements, make suggestions about extending the salary range or prioritising certain qualities.
Let’s face it, the BEST agencies do all the above. But when you’re trying to quantify “good” with a scoring or a rating, it’s extremely hard to take in all these factors.
On TalentPuzzle, we’ve decided to take our grading scale back to basics and measure how successful each agency has been at performing the fundamentals of their job: delivering the CVs of candidates that are good enough to be asked for an interview. We will, therefore, base agency ratings on an “effectiveness statistic”:
# Interviews
# CVs
The rating system will compare each agent’s stats with the site average and award them a certain number of stars (out of 5).
Ultimately, however, a simple calculation such as this is always going to fall short. Something we’ve battled with is that an excellent agency could have a terrible rating thanks to a run of bad luck on the site. Bad luck which may come in the form of uncommunicative HR staff, vague job specs, unrealistic sets of requirements or unrealistic base salaries, etc. etc.
My conclusion: that while there are “bad agencies” out there, there are also “bad HR behaviours” which obstruct, rather than facilitate a successful recruiting process. Often, more important than “good recruitment agents”, can be the establishment of “good recruiting relationships” – a challenge for TalentPuzzle, as well as everyone else involved in recruitment, and I don’t think cold-calling has a place in that at all.
This entry was posted in Online Recruitment Blog.

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