Recruiting Agencies and HR Partners
Friedrich Nietzsche, the pre-eminent Scholar, Philosopher and prolific producer of useful quotes shared “There are no facts, only interpretations.”
Armed with this idea I reached out to a large pool of Human Resources professionals to explore their views on recruitment and additionally their relationships with agencies. The same poll shared with executive recruiters revealed some interesting points of agreement and surprising difference of perspective. HR pros and recruiters tended to AGREE about general recruitment practices and processes but they tended to DISAGREE about the realities of the relationship between the two parties.
I blogged once a couple years ago about the contentious relationship between agencies and their HR partners and wanted to explore this a little deeper. The survey and some frank interviews revealed some surprising results.
A series of questions explored the state of the market today. HR and Agency tended to have a strong agreement that recruiting (finding and landing) had changed dramatically in the past five (5) years. Likewise, they were on the same page that it has become much more difficult to identify, connect with and hire people. Generally, there was concurrence that processes have been static – with HR overwhelming embracing process and Agency aching for change.
The majority of HR pros felt the ‘greatest impediment to successful and timely filling…”’was a dearth of qualified candidates. Agency pros were more likely to hold the Hiring Companies responsible with observations about gates keepers; slow response; minimalist feedback, lack of access to hiring managers (resulting in poor understanding of the position/culture) and an inability to influence decisions.
Surprising to me, 90 percent of the HR respondents were satisfied with the performance of their agencies. Overwhelmingly they also described their agency relationship as partners.
Recruiters opined that partnership was the goal but that ‘opponent’ was the reality. HR described the “largest problem/least satisfying part of your relationship with recruitment agencies” as a lack of qualified candidates. Agencies felt their partners were not responsive enough.
In another surprise result, both groups perceived that agency fees were between a ‘great value’ and ‘reasonable’.
“What 3 things – in ranked order would you like to see your agencies do differently?” didn’t receive much response, generally just more candidates faster. HR folks and Agency recruiters agreed that more cooperation and communication from Hiring Authorities would create vastly improved results.
I expected incongruity when exploring criteria for selecting agencies but found a meeting of the minds ranking Relationship as paramount, followed by Quality of Candidates, Response Time and Price/Fees coming in as least critical.
Other interesting observations included “Cultural Fit” as the ultimate factor in evaluating a successful candidate. Exploring difficulties in sourcing showed ‘poor work histories’ followed by ‘lack of qualified candidates’, ‘Poorly Prepared Candidates’ and finally ‘salary expectations’ as results.
The most enlightening part of this experiment for me was learning that HR pros who responded * generally feel positive about their Agency partners and that they share a number of pains.
The survey was shared with trusted partners/clients, HR folks who have refused to partner, ex-partners and strangers. There was a skewed response rate with a large majority of respondents coming from the current client pool. Some results might have been different if the pool were more evenly weighted or had been administered by a 3rd party.
“In all affairs, it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” ― Bertrand Russell