Are you getting good value from your recruitment consultants? Many companies are not, but there’s something positive they can do about it.

The Sunday Telegraph

Ian Lampitt of Pioneer Consulting, a recruitment consultancy specialising in supplying IT and enterprise technology staff to UK and international clients, says: “Companies could help themselves get better value from their recruiters but many of them don’t know how.” Many companies choose their recruitment consultant purely based on cost. “They reason that all recruiters do the same job, so they might as well go for the cheapest,” says Lampitt.

Then, typically, an internal manager gives the recruiter a job specification based on the tasks carried out by the last person to fill that position or a similar one – which might be fine, except for the fact that the company and its market are constantly evolving.

Alternatively, he or she may base the job specification on combining multiple roles, with the aim of saving money. This may appear cost effective at first but rarely identifies suitable candidates.

Some managers may even base the job specification on the tasks carried out when they filled the role themselves, despite the fact that it could have been years ago.

Instead, says Lampitt, the key to recruiting effectively is to base the specification on the company’s current needs. Review the tasks that have to be carried out and work out what skills the candidate is likely to need. Then you can work with a recruitment consultant to devise the ideal job specification.

Be flexible – don’t necessarily use the same old consultant you have been using for years. Choose ones with in-depth knowledge of your sector and the skill-sets you are seeking. More employers are now using specialist, niche recruiters in order to gain in-depth knowledge of that market, Lampitt says.

“An experienced specialist consultant with years of involvement in the field you are recruiting from will be able to advise you about the skills available and even how many potential candidates there may be for your particular role,” he says.

Having identified the right consultant, invite him or her into your company. “Set a side time to explain exactly what your company is trying to achieve, the projects you are working on and what skills the roles will require,” says Lampitt. Of course this is all much more time-consuming that what Lampitt calls “the CV firing model” of recruitment. Typically the consultant, having received little more than a basic job specification fires off emails presenting candidates’ CVs to the client one after the other, hoping that one of the candidates fits the bill.

“This may work well occasionally but it is not likely to be successful in the long term,” says Lampitt. “Moreover you will not be getting value for money, however low-cost the recruiter, because the time spent filtering out unsuitable candidates will ultimately outweigh this.”

Equipped with the right information about the vacancy and company, the recruiter can pre-select the most suitable candidates for you.

“The better the recruiter understands the company and the role, the bigger chance that he or she will find you the right candidate quickly, and the longer they will stay with you,” says Lampitt.

As the recruitment consultant gets to know the company better and becomes a trusted adviser, he is likely to find the right candidates more quickly. This should cut down the time taken to source new hires, and result in a better fit between candidate and vacancy, so the whole company benefits.

The success of the approach, however, relies on first choosing the right consultant, and then taking the time to communicate your company’s needs, aims and strategy. “Initially it takes longer than simply accepting the ‘CV firing model’ but it can pay off in the long term,” says Lampitt, citing the case of an IT consultancy that was looking for Siebel customer relationship management software experts.

“They had been let down by other recruiters on several occasions, but our consultant, an expert in this field, talked to them at length. As a result he was able to forward two candidates to them in just two hours, and within a short time one of them was hired,” he says.

“Putting more work into your relationship with a well-chosen recruitment consultant can turn out to be time well spent.”

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