The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

July 21, 2015

How to Evaluate a Recruitment Firm on the Hiring Side

Recruitment-EvaluationOutsourcing the headaches of candidate sourcing and screening to an executive recruitment firm saves time, stress and money. If you choose the right firm, that is.

As is the case with any service provider, some agencies are more worthwhile than others. Because employers partner with recruitment agencies to acquire their most valuable assets—people—a careful assessment of the firm, its history and its capabilities is imperative.

Perhaps you are investigating the merits of executive recruiters for the first time. Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve hired through an external vendor. Or, quite possibly, the agency you’ve been using just doesn’t meet your expectations.

The following factors should come into play when you’re evaluating an executive recruitment or temporary staffing firm:

Reputation: What do other customers say about the firm? Request references; do research; speak to peers in other companies who have been in your shoes. Real feedback from real people is a must for any purchase decision, and staffing is no exception.

Internal Turnover: Is the staff 90% newcomers or has a considerable portion of the staff been with the firm for five years or more? The former indicates heavy turnover—which complicates your experience as the customer. When your representative is replaced every six months, you have to continuously retell your company’s story. The latter enables you to build a solid relationship with your recruitment firm that thoroughly understands your business and the types of professionals you hire.

Key Performance Indicators: What do the numbers look like? For temporary staffing needs, inquire about the percentage of temporary-to-permanent conversions to gauge candidate quality. Regarding permanent search, find out about placement success rates. And, regardless of the hiring terms (temporary, temp-to-perm or permanent), the ratio of candidates submitted to candidates invited to interview with the employer is a critical statistic.

Employees’ Backgrounds: What did the firm’s employees do professionally prior to recruitment? Assign priority to an agency staffed by recruiters with hands-on experience in the areas they service. Someone who has previously worked directly in a specific field or industry is more knowledgeable, more valuable and a more careful critic of candidates than someone who lacks this experience.

Search Process: What is the typical search process for the agency, and why is it successful?  Strong firms utilize a variety of sources, not just two or three, to maximize the number of searches that conclude in the right match. Beyond sourcing, the best agencies have developed a solid procedure to screen, prepare and present the best candidates.

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