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Should I use in-house recruitment or outsource to an agency?

There are a few things to take into account when weighing up whether to deploy in-house recruitment or to use an agency instead. Here, we’ll break down what you need to think about when you’re hiring, while making a case for both in-house and agency recruiting.

What do I need to think about?

  1. How senior (or junior) is the role?
    It’s likely that the more junior the role you’re hiring for, the more likely you can recruit this role using time and resources from within your company. As you look for more senior people and there’s more riding on making the right hire, you may want to look to outside help from a recruitment agency.
  2. Is there particular experience required?
    Do you need someone versed in B2B or B2C? Or someone who’s well versed in logistics? Think about the specific experiences that people need on their CV. This can dictate whether it’s manageable to recruit in house, or whether you need to outsource.
  3. Is there a particular skillset required?
    Are you hiring for highly technical or specialised roles? Understanding the requirements for the role you’re recruiting for is essential. Ask yourself whether you know enough about the skillset required for the job you’re hiring for. If you don’t, you might want to look to a specialist recruitment agency to help you find the perfect candidate.
  4. What does the market look like for these candidates?
    Don’t go into this blind. If you’re looking for a junior candidate with a year’s experience and basic copywriting ability, then the market is good already. The market is hugely different if you’re looking for, say, a chief technical officer who understands data science and has years of experience at a B2B SaaS company. Suitable candidates will be easy to come by in the first example, but in the second there’d be far fewer people right for the role.  

In short, how you answer these questions will have an influence on which route you choose. Generally speaking, if you’re looking for a senior, hard-to-find candidate, then working with a specialist agency is going to be worthwhile. If you’re looking for a candidate coming from a more-populated market, then running the process in house can be more useful.

When should I use in-house resource for recruiting?

Before you commit to using in-house resource for hiring, think about who within the business will manage the process and how much of their time it will take up. Once you’re happy that you can dedicate enough resource and research into the hiring process, here’s why it can be worthwhile to recruit in-house:

  1. You know your business better than recruiters
    It’ll always be easier for you to know the difference between the right and the wrong candidate. As you live and breathe your organisation, recruiters can’t know its workings or its culture anywhere near as well as you can. This can help you find a great candidate.
  2. Fewer dead-ends
    Generally, you’ll reach more dead-ends when you’re using recruiters. As they don’t understand the business as well as you do, they’re more likely to present you with a candidate who simply is right for the role or the organisation.
  3. It’s a better experience for the candidate
    When you’re doing it all in-house, you decide how you communicate the role, how you sell the company and how you talk to the candidate. A better experience for the candidate means you’ll have a higher probability of getting the person you want because they’re more likely to realise the role is right for them.
  4. Recruiters can complicate the process
    When you’re ready to make your candidate an offer, recruiters can make the process more complicated than it needs to be. As this stage, you want a direct person-to-person line of communication, but a recruiter can be an extra layer that makes things slightly more complex and drawn-out. When you’re recruiting in-house, you don’t have to worry about this problem.
  5. It saves (marginal) cost
    If you want to do it well, you should be prepared to spend a similar amount of money on making your in-house recruitment work for you, but you will save some money deciding not to use recruitment agencies.
  6. You’re more likely to find the right candidate
    Providing you have done your research and have access to the right markets of candidate, doing it in-house means you’re more likely to find a person who’ll be a perfect fit for your business.  
  7. It develops your skillset
    Whether it’s you doing the recruiting or someone else within the business, using in-house resource to hire candidates gives you a new set of skills. If you’re outsourcing to a recruiting agency every time you hire someone, you won’t know how to find the best candidates yourself.

If you’re keeping your hiring in-house, it’s also handy to know a little more about prospective employees’ contracts.

When should I use and agency for recruiting?

As mentioned earlier, if you’re looking for a specific individual with a reasonable level of seniority in a niche market, then using a good specialist agency can be invaluable. Here’s why:

  1. They know the market better than you do
    If you’re in a situation when you have an agency who truly understands a candidate’s market better than you do, they can add a huge amount of value to the process. Not only will they have a grasp of the market and requirements, if they’re really good, they’ll have existing relationships with great candidates.
  2. They have better intel on the candidate and market
    A good recruitment agency in this space will know everything from salary expectations to when it’s a good or bad time to hire. They should have more information than you do about the market you’re hiring in.
  3. It can be quicker
    This is the biggest plus point for businesses. Rather than driving applications yourself, if you have a recruiter with existing relationships and applicants at their fingertips, they can move much more quickly than your organisation will.

Top tip - don’t negotiate your recruiter on price!

This may seem counterintuitive, but it makes sense not to negotiate with the agency you choose. They’ll be working with multiple clients and they’ll be more likely to push candidates to clients where they are paying their preferred rate, rather than to people who’ve negotiated them down. If you want top-tier talent, don’t negotiate, because you’ll get their second-tier talent rather than the ones they’re excited about. So, if you’re not using in-house recruiting, settle for the price your recruitment agency quotes you.

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