The cost of unfilled roles: In-house Recruitment vs Recruitment Agency

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The question of In-house Recruitment vs Recruitment Agency is one of regular debate in our industry (and in many a board room).

You would assume it would be cheaper to stay in-house and handle your own business but is that really the case? 

Every company, from startups to large corporations, needs someone to manage its recruitment. 

If there is a role to be filled, then resources are needed to produce the role brief, identify the longlist of potential candidates, arrange interviews, conduct interviews, shortlist, offer, etc.

It is time-consuming but is there really anything more important than hiring the best people you can?

You’ve then, generally speaking, got two options… 

In-house Recruitment vs Recruitment Agency – Manage the process yourself in-house or outsource to a recruitment agency.

Very different approaches and thought processes but how do you decide which is right for your company?

Do you have the skills and time to do it?

Will the cost of outsourcing represent good value?

And when it comes to the type of recruitment agency, well, that’s when you have another choice to make. Good luck!

Why go DIY with in-house recruitment?

In recent years we have seen organisations do more and more of their own DIY recruitment, with varying degrees of success.

In-house recruitment teams were once the preserve of large multinationals, however, smaller firms are increasingly discovering that running their own recruitment process can be cost-effective.

The advantages are clear. If you have a capable HR/recruitment function then why would you need a specialist recruiter/resource such as Barron Williams to translate job description into role brief and advertisement?

Place the job ad on your website, throw in a little LinkedIn, maybe a pinch of Indeed Pay-Per-Click and voilà, watch the CVs roll in. Simples as Aleksandr the Meerkat would say (we like Aleksandr).

Interested candidates may be following your social media and monitoring your vacancies page, and of course, LinkedIn and Indeed (other Job Boards are available) are full of talented people seeking their next role. Why wouldn’t you try the ‘easy route’?

I have spoken to a number of clients who have advertised roles (usually for junior positions) in this way. Very successfully I may add (though not always, of course). 

If you can attract 3 or 4 good candidates, then you have a shortlist!?

Of course, in that scenario, you’re relying on luck to hit the ‘right’ people at the ‘right’ time. Luck is a great strategy but in our experience very difficult to achieve consistently.

Why go contingency and hire a panel of recruitment agencies?

Some would argue that this in-house DIY approach is preferable to instructing a panel of contingent recruitment agencies. 

After all, why pay for candidates that (with a little bit of luck) you can readily find yourself? 

If they are active in the market, looking for the next role, how hard can it be?

Contingent recruiters will utilise databases and networks. 

They will potentially be able to identify and put forward candidates you wouldn’t have otherwise seen.

On the other hand, how often have you been disappointed with contingent recruitment agencies?

It’s either the quick deluge of largely unsuitable CVs or the slow death of the recruitment consultants’ interest in your role when they struggle to find good candidates.

That “no win no fee” marketing pitch might be intuitively attractive to you but it drives behaviour with “no fee” becoming more likely. If they can’t find what you want quickly, they need to move on.

The model is sales-driven, and consultants find themselves under constant pressure. They are motivated to move on to roles where their database and networks will yield a successful placement. Understandably.

The better agencies and recruiters will market your vacancy through social media and possibly do some searching but it’s not their core modus operandi. 

Effective search requires a full client brief, something not usually afforded to your panel of contingent recruiters. We don’t envy them their lot!

If you do use this method and you rely on your PSL to race for the best CVs, then at least be fair?

Set a tight deadline for each agency to present their best 3 or 4 candidates.

Allowing for the inevitable duplicates between the panel of agencies, you should get an active market representative set of CVs and the basis for a recruitment process.

However, if you want the best candidates drawn from the whole of the market – active and passive (or even downright evasive) – then there is a better way…

If you go DIY or contingency recruitment – Be quick!

Do your own thing if it works for you. Place your ads on your company website and wherever else you think the right people might see them. 

There are always industry publications too but trade press advertising is often expensive with generally poor ROI.

If you do go down the in-house recruitment route then you also need to move quickly and efficiently. 

You’ll know in 2 to 3 weeks if those adverts are generating impact and attracting suitable candidates. 

Remember, time is money, and Time-To-Hire is a significant daily cost. How long can you afford for the role to be vacant?

Similarly, if you’re going down the contingent recruiter path, do it quick. Set a strict deadline, you’ll be doing yourself a favour, or them a favour.

Cards on the table

Of course, if you’re filling senior management and executive roles, you wouldn’t be so vulgar to even consider a DIY or multi-contingent recruitment agency, would you?

Risk leaving crucial roles unfilled for a day longer than necessary for the sake of “being lucky” with your DIY process or giving PSL agencies a “month or so to see what they can do”?

No way. You wouldn’t do that? Your organisation wouldn’t want you to do that? Seriously???

We would even argue that lower-level management roles also benefit from a more civilised approach too. However, searching in a crowded marketplace and differentiating between a high number of potential candidates isn’t always easy (and certainly not as lucrative for Barron Williams).

So what next when considering In-house Recruitment vs Recruitment Agency?

To put it bluntly, for senior roles, just don’t use either approach.

Calculate the cost per day of not having the right person in post.

You can’t run your business on luck, so don’t count on being lucky when you next need to find that next crucial hire. 

In the current climate, where demand is massively outstripping supply, that perfect candidate is not sitting waiting for your ad to appear or necessarily on a PSL’s database.

Call Barron Williams. This is what we do: 

  • We will get on with your project immediately (assuming it is the right fit for you and us).
  • We will tailor the brief to find the right talent.
  • We will report back to you regularly as we typically deliver your high calibre longlist in less than 4 weeks.
  • We will coordinate the selection process with the aim of hiring in less than 7 to 8 weeks.
  • We will take care of the candidates, from application to resignation. We are a candidate-driven company.
  • We will guide candidates through the exit process (counter-offers, notice negotiation, etc).
  • We will support both client and candidate as necessary through the onboarding process. We will take references.
  • We will check in with them and you once in post to ensure they settle in their new role.
  • We will continue to build our client relationship with you both

In short, when you outsource your problem to the team at Barron Williams, we implement our high-quality process and practices to find the right solution quickly.

This is how we work. And it works. But one point of note… 

We do insist on exclusivity. We don’t work for free. If you engage Barron Williams, you get all the necessary resources applied to deliver what you need. A highly-skilled and experienced project team. Experts in our field. Great people.

You may already have an exclusive provider, not a problem. We would be happy to pitch for that next crucial hire. Genuine search-based firms like us will happily pitch and step back if unsuccessful. It is better for the client to have one dedicated firm working in partnership with them, even if it is someone else.

If you are reading this as a potential client, then please let us know if we can offer an alternative to your current provider?

If we are not the right fit for you or the role, we will be honest and say so. 

Our brand reputation is critical, and as a relatively small firm, it makes no sense to take on a brief if we are not 100% confident we can put the right person in that role.

Even if you simply want to benchmark, please, speak to us. 

Alternatively, try us on that ‘sticky’ hard to fill a role or if you need ‘proof of concept’, we will consider working with you on a lower-level role (Terms & Conditions will apply)?

We are always happy to demonstrate how well our people, systems, processes and practices work before you trust us with that next important senior hire.

Barron Williams is always happy to talk

So, to summarise what we’re saying about In-house Recruitment vs Recruitment Agency… Quite a bit it seems!

  1. DIY in-house recruitment is growing, valuable and cost-effective, particularly with lower-level hiring, but it is not a panacea.
  2. Contingent recruitment agencies can still be useful, again, especially with lower-level roles, but use them (and your PSL recruiters), wisely.
  3. Whatever you do, be quick. Regardless of the current ‘War for Talent’ noise, it is not just about losing a candidate due to a poor or slow process, it’s about the work that’s not being done whilst there’s a gap in your team.
  4. If you are going retained, always brief exclusively and completely. Agree on comms and timescales and work in partnership to identify, attract and engage with the best candidates. Win-Win-Win.
  5. Still not convinced? That’s OK. However, if you think you might be open to a little gentle persuasion, the ‘proof of concept’ offer stands. Or just ask to speak to some of our clients, we will stand or fall by what they say!

If you’re looking to hire, please use our Client Upload Form or Call Us now. 

If you’re looking to find or apply for a new role, then please feel free to Upload Your CV or Call Us for an exploratory conversation.

Barron Williams

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