Before I begin, I wrote this article not because I like the guys at Adam because I don’t (actually I do but please don’t tell them), or because they are paying me (fat chance from the Mancunian mafia) but because I have seen a number of recruitment firms recently almost apologise for their chosen profession. In fact, what really prompted me to write this was hearing a recruiter in the serviced office space in which I am currently sat, try to describe what they did without mentioning the “r” word.
Let me also be crystal clear, as a Yorkshireman, an entrepreneur (I’m sorry I feel bad writing that about myself but unemployed tends to ruin one’s credibility) and investor in businesses both personally and professionally, I’m clearly not a fan of spending money where it can be saved. Furthermore, sometimes there are recruitment “specialists” that charge pretty exorbitant fees for a very average service and in doing so help profligate a negative image of the whole industry.
But, and this is the point of my blog post, recruiters are a really important part of the business ecosystem and if you pick the right team and work with them properly they can add real value to your business as you grow and develop and in my experience more than pay for themselves. If you don’t believe me try doing the recruitment yourself, I did once and after receiving hundreds of awful CV’s vowed never to do it again.
For me however there are a number of things you should bare in mind in order to maximise the return on investment from your recruiter, call it my checklist if you will:
- Chose your partner carefully – Look for a firm which has the necessary contacts or skills to find the people you want and speak to a lot of people about them. Candidates, clients and your peer group are always useful, do a lot of checks on them and take your time. Its often even worth speaking with them before you need people so you don’t rush it when you do.
- Make them a key business partner – Build a real relationship with your recruiter. Spend the time to allow them to understand your business inside and out an the people in it and work with them over a long period. There are dangers in developing an exclusive relationship but in my view I found it to be really useful in streamlining the process for both parties as the recruiter really understands the type of people you want and need.
- Use them appropriately – Given my professional services background I find that when it comes to entry level staff you should “always be recruiting” by developing links with schools, colleges and universities and keep an eye out at all times, even when having a coffee in local coffee shops (all to be revealed in an upcoming Financial Times podcast). But for experienced hires recruiters are an absolute godsend but I find it helps to involve them in the scoping process and start as early as possible.
- Maintain an open brief – My final and possibly most important tip is ask your recruiter to keep an open brief for talented people. This has definitely delivered me some of my best hires even if I didn’t have a role for them at the time or indeed possibly at all. But because my recruiter knew the culture and purpose of the business and its strategic direction and what I looked for in candidates they were able to introduce me to interesting and talented candidates when they walked through the door.
So there you have it. Do I like paying fees to professional services of any type; no! But managing the relationship with the right recruiter can over the long term yield significant benefits that I truly believe more than paid for themselves in the long tun. To me, recruitment is not a dirty word…albeit it didn’t stop me negotiating their fees!
Martin’s other ramblings can be followed on Twitter @MartinRSpiller