Not all recruiting agencies are created alike. Some are praised, some are utilized once and forgotten, and some leave a bad impression from both the employer’s and the candidate’s standpoint. A study by Unity Personnel revealed that 60% of job seekers would prefer not to use a recruiting agency. What exactly separates the best from the worst in the industry, and how can recruiting agencies improve their practices? In order to understand how the best recruiters operate, one must look at the mistakes they do not make that other agencies ceaselessly repeat.
Much of the negative perception originates from the candidate’s standpoint, and for good reason. All too often, horror stories arise from using the services of a recruiting agency with questionable and downright shady practices. One extreme example are recruitment scams which involve gathering a candidate’s personal information for identity theft purposes. Another is charging the candidates a fee, an all too common practice with security guard licensing and photo modeling agencies; the agency takes the candidate’s money, gives them a license, and fails to deliver on finding them a job. Yet another is making the candidate sign a contract with the recruiter to prevent them from going directly to any employer the recruiter contacts. Some shady recruiters go even further to rewrite the candidate’s resume to match the employer’s job description, and spam various employers with the resumes in hopes of landing a client that way. Honest recruiters sign contracts with employers, not candidates. Another complaint candidates have is the lack of professional etiquette and integrity with the way certain recruiters conduct themselves, such as adding candidates to a database of irrelevant jobs unrelated to the candidate’s background, and guaranteeing them a job offer. It is wise for candidates to remember that the recruiting agency’s client is the employer; this is who pays the recruiter and who makes the ultimate decision to extend a job offer to the candidate.
From the employer’s side, complaints are generally centered on a lack of knowledge and understanding of what the position they wish to fill entails, and what skill set the candidate they are recommending to the employer possesses. A lack of a standardized and effective process for finding top talent in the candidate pool creates the scenario of recruiters bombarding an employer with resumes until one happens to vaguely fit the role. Traditional recruiting agencies may operate with honesty and integrity but fail to deliver exceptional results. They are primarily data gatherers and distributors, and their interests are divided between two sets of clients; employers and job-seekers. Job seekers complete a minimal profile, and employers submit their own written job descriptions. Computers look for keyword matches between the two, and invite job seekers accordingly. Employers are then deluged—either with email applications from so-called candidates, or emails from the agencies themselves. Their service is not guaranteed, carries a hefty price tag, requires a significant investment of time, and all too often results in costly bad hires before the right employee is found. Employers are sometimes unaware of what candidate they are looking for, and combining this with unrealistic expectations which are not addressed by the inexperienced recruiter is a recipe for a sub-par candidate delivery.
It would not be entirely unwarranted if employers and candidates were to consider the typical recruiting agency as a middleman which strips control of the hiring process from both employers and candidates, and delivers inconsistent results. In contrast, the ideal recruiter places the reigns into the hands of their client the employer, and treats all candidates with a professional level of respect. It is for this reason that certain recruiting agencies are viewed favorably amidst the negative hype. Niche recruiters who specialize in an industry are highly sought after as employment specialists, bringing their skills to the table to find truly ideal employees for the position. Their competence in evaluating and understanding the needs of both the employer and the qualifications the ideal candidate would possess make them redeemers for the entire recruiting industry. Likewise, agencies utilizing pre-employment testing provide a scarce and valuable service; combining the purity of the scientific method with tried and tested screening protocols to objectively find a few select candidates for the position. Recruiting agencies which utilize pre-employment testing are best employed for high-level and hard-to-fill positions where cognitive ability plays a crucial role in the success of the company.
The ideal recruiting agency places the needs of the employer above all else, is thorough with clarifying who the ideal candidate is, and develops honest relationships with all parties it comes in contact with. As with any business, the focus of the ideal recruiter should be on the relationship with their clients and candidates; quality, lifelong service is and always will be prized far above a hard sell and a quick buck.