5 Tips to Determine the Best Recruiting Agencies to Work With

December 31, 2012

Companies and recruiting agencies — can’t we all just get along?

In an ideal world it wouldn’t be so hard to work with recruiting agencies, but in the world we live in it seems increasingly difficult. Take for example a recent story I heard of a recruiter who, while trying to place a candidate before the end of the quarter, bypassed the process of working with the internal HR team and hiring manager and went straight for the VP of the department. Mind you, the VP was not involved in the search and had no idea what was going on, and frankly was perturbed that the recruiter had the audacity to side step the process.

Um, no. That is not how it works, and that is not how it has ever worked. Here are some tips when it comes to finding the right agency to work with and best practices for working with them:

1) Do Your Homework

It’s nice listening to the recruiter’s sales pitch and all, but that tells us nothing about the company’s repertoire of candidates or their business acumen. Would you work with a real estate agent without doing your due diligence? Probably not. So why shell out agency fees for a new hire when you know nothing about the agency sending him or her along? Get all the facts together upfront before that recruiter starts sending you candidates.

2) Get a Reference

We get referrals and references for just about everything else, so why not when it comes to working with a recruiter? Hearing how well a particular agency filled a position from peers within the industry is helpful. Learning about an agency’s attention to detail and the caliber of candidates who they work with is very important. It’s also beneficial to find out how fees were handled and contracts upheld. If you are paying for an agency’s services it is best to know ahead of time whether they have a solid track record of delivering.

In addition to getting a reference provided by the agency you should also get a back door reference. Ask the recruiter whether they have worked with anyone in your professional network before. This will ensure you have the most accurate picture of how the agency operates.

3) Read the Contract

In this day in age I am still not sure why people do not fully read contracts. A lot of times this is where a company will get hustled by an agency and end up not getting their money back for candidates that quit in a certain time frame. Make sure if you have any stipulations that you address those up front and they get amended to the contract.

4) Not All Agencies Are Created Equal

Agencies typically have specialties. Some have stronger IT staffing solutions, while others may be better suited to hiring for sales and marketing. The bottom line is, there is no one-stop-shopping when it comes to agencies. Find different agencies you can rely on for particular roles and stick with them.

Also, if an agency is not giving you the quality candidates you need then, by all means, stop working with them! Do not keep agreements with agencies that are not providing any value. By keeping the list of agencies you work with to a minimum you can avoid petty arguments over who sent a candidate when, and also avoid filling up your inbox and voicemail with messages from pushy recruiters.

5) It’s a Marathon not a Sprint

This is especially true when it comes to hiring senior-level employees. Make sure whatever recruiting agency you’re working with is clear about your timeline. Again, you are holding the purse strings — don’t let the recruiter threaten you with candidates going “off the market” etc. Stick to your company’s hiring plans, not someone else’s who may simply be trying to get a deal in before the end of the month. You need to protect the integrity of your hiring process.

Hopefully you take working with a recruiting agency as seriously as you take any other outsourced expense your company pays for. If you feel that you are losing control on the recruiting process, go over the steps I outlined above. It is possible for recruiting agencies and companies to get along, but there needs to be a process in place to do so.

Senior Corporate Recruiter

<strong>Lindsey Gurian</strong> is the Senior Corporate Recruiter at <a href="http://www.acquia.com">Acquia</a>. She was previously a Senior Talent Specialist at Sonian, responsible for recruiting initiatives at both the firm and its portfolio companies.