Claire McQuillan, from Additional Resources, on getting the most from your recruitment agency
Many of my clients use recruitment agencies to source candidates. Some of them find it a frustrating experience, particularly when the CVs they receive from the agency do not seem to match the role available.
What’s going wrong and what can you do to get the most from your agency?
I asked Claire McQuillan for her thoughts. She owns and runs Additional Resources, a small recruitment agency based in Stoke, recruiting for mostly permanent positions. Her approach, perhaps unusually in the industry, is to really get to know a business and the business owner before commencing any search activity. That way, she believes, she can make sure she finds the right candidate not just for the role on offer but for the organisation as a whole.
In this, the first Work Brighter guest blog, she tells us more about her approach and how you can help your agency to better help you.
“It’s really important that I get to know a business before looking for their ideal job candidate. How else will I be able to make sure that person is the right fit?
I mean, I can get the person, the best qualified person – but if they’ve not got the right personality or cultural fit – it’s never going to work. For me, it’s not about bums on seats, it’s about fit.
In fact, I’ve turned away people who just want me to send them CVs – that’s not my bag.
Getting under the skin of my clients
To really get under the skin of a client, I like, if possible, to spend a whole day with them. I’ll have a look round their office or site, discuss their organisational chart with them and get a feel for the culture and the atmosphere, the way teams are structured and so on.
This means I can really see what the business needs – which might not be what my clients think they need. It can be quite an eye-opening experience for them!
For instance I worked with one client who wanted a sales administrator to add to her team. But when we looked at the organisational chart together I felt what she actually needed was a project manager – someone to handle the activity rather than process it.
Recently I’ve been working with an IT company. It’s only 18 months old and currently undergoing massive growth. They wanted 60 heads over the next 12 months. I met with the company directors and asked them where they are now and where they want to be. They were keen to recruit revenue generators first but I focused my efforts initially on getting their delivery team in place. We have now successfully recruited several people and are starting to look at sourcing sales people for them.
The secret to getting better quality candidates
For me, it’s important to get the job advert right. Not too much information and rather than focusing on what the person needs to be able to do, focus on the qualities you’re looking for.
By doing that, you can significantly reduce the quantity of CVs you receive but massively improve the quality. For instance for an IT role I advertised where typically you might get 300 CVs, I got 25 – all of really good quality.
Then it’s about properly screening candidates. When I do telephone screening on behalf of my clients, I will ask candidates about what they can bring to the role, what their strengths and weaknesses are etc. I’ll ask them about their experience not only to see what they can do but also in terms of the sorts of culture and environment they’re used to. Will they fit in with the culture of my client?
It’s all about asking the right questions.
So what can you do to improve the quality of candidates you get from your agency?
Here’s my advice when working with a recruitment service:
- Always talk to them, don’t just look at the cost. After all, it costs 2.5 x annual salary to recruit the wrong person.
- Are they just sending you the CVs from their database? How do they know those people are suitable for your position, that they’re even still looking for a new job? Ask probing questions.
- Don’t just send a job description to an agency. If you were recruiting direct you’d want more than the job description to go on – so should your agency.
- Think about the sort of person you’re looking for – not just their skills and experience, but their attitude and behaviours. Help your agency get the right match for you.”
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