The Three Things Every Successful Manager Knows About Recruiting Agencies

Jul 22, 2020

If you’re a hiring manager or a founder, at some point you’ll confront the classic chicken-and-egg problem: you’re too busy doing your job well to have time to build a team, but you need to build a team to do your job well. This dynamic is why outsourcing your recruiting responsibilities to recruiting agencies is such an attractive proposition. 

It’s even more attractive when you consider that many recruiting agencies are incredibly good at what they do! They have a wealth of experience, they have connections that you don’t, and they’re able to provide you with guidance about the process from start to finish. That last one especially can be a godsend, since the world isn’t exactly overflowing with resources helping you learn how to build out your team. 

But there can also be some challenges to using an agency to help you source candidates. Below, we’ll talk about what those are, and how to best overcome them, so you can get the most out of your partnership. 

1. Make Sure You’re Using the Right Tool For the Job

Agencies succeed because they are dedicated to recruiting full-time, specializing in certain industries with many great people already in their virtual rolodex. Any agency you contact will have great candidates in their talent pool suited to your open job reqs, which makes them uniquely suited to hire quickly and hire for tricky senior positions. So if you’re looking to fill out your C-Suite, or you need great people as soon as possible, it can make a lot of sense to use an agency to help you do that.

But agencies can be incredibly expensive–their commissions can reach up to 20% of an employee’s first-year salary. In a world where a software engineer can easily make $200,000, those commissions add up. If you’re on a budget, or just trying to build out a larger team, it makes sense to take control of the process yourself. 

That means finding and reaching out to candidates yourself, which can be a cheap and effective way to fill up your pipeline. Leveraging your personal network, reaching out to employee referrals, or using tools like LinkedIn or RecruitBot to discover great candidates who might be a good fit for your positions are all things you should consider. 

2. Agencies are partners, not employees

Always remember that using an agency is a collaborative process. (A Deloitte study confirms that the single biggest factor contributing to recruiter performance is their relationships with their hiring managers.) You can’t just throw together a list of keywords and expect the recruiting agency to magically fill up the funnel with amazing top-line candidates. You need to create alignment about expectations, requirements, salary, and a whole swathe of other particulars.

Obviously this is easier said than done. It’s difficult to create alignment with someone who isn’t plugged into your company, and who doesn’t know what your exact preferences are. (This is doubly difficult during the pandemic, where in-person meetings are basically impossible.) You might have an idea of what your ideal candidate is, but communicating that to others might be a challenge.

To succeed, you’ll need to get creative. Try to meet with your agency as often as your schedule allows. Explain what you like and dislike about all the candidates presented to you, which will help the recruiter understand your preferences, even if you’re not able to perfectly articulate what those preferences are. 

But don’t just rely on in-person meetings. There are plenty of tools that allow asynchronous communication, which will help the recruiter and hiring manager better align. A simple Google spreadsheet, Trello board, or AirTable can go a long way to accomplishing this. Or you can look for a more recruiting-specific tool like RecruitBot, which will encourage alignment through the ability to see each other’s search parameters and candidate evaluations. 

3. Your Brand Is Your Best Resource. Use It.

A message from a hiring manager or founder will always be more exciting to a potential candidate than a message from an agency. Nobody can position the opportunity as well as you can–you have a better understanding of the product, what’s exciting about the company, and so on. It’s crucial to communicate that to every candidate.

In other words, the sender is just as important as the message, so make sure that candidates hear directly from you. If you’ve built up a substantial amount of trust with your agency, you can do this pretty easily by sharing your LinkedIn password and letting the agency send InMails on your behalf. But you can also find a tool that allows your recruiter to send emails in your name without worrying about the privacy concerns of sharing your password with a colleague. At RecruitBot, that’s exactly what we do–everyone in the organization can send emails on behalf of their colleagues, without sharing the entirety of their inbox. It’s incredibly helpful for recruiters and hiring managers alike. 

Last Word

Agencies are powerful allies in your recruiting efforts, especially when you’re looking to make senior hires or hire quickly. Just make sure you use the right tools and have the right approach to get the most out of your collaboration.