My name is Richard Johnson. I’ve worked in recruitment for many years and enjoy sharing my experiences and views on recruitment with my network and all those connected with Jenrick IT. My article today is orientated around helping Clients understand how they can leverage relationships with their recruitment agencies, enabling the agency to act as an ambassador for the Client’s brand and as such, enable the company to achieve a much greater return on their agency spend.

What do I mean by ‘act as a Brand Ambassador?’

The candidate market is VERY competitive, with all the leading companies competing for the same top tier of talent. This trend will continue for some time and as such companies need to consider additional mediums in which they can communicate their brand values, plus other key organisational strengths, to enable them to connect with more candidates / potential employees. A recruitment agency should have frequent contact with the candidate throughout the recruitment process (from the initial contact, shortlisting, pre-screening, interview stages and then offer stages), much more so than the Client. As such, if the agency is engaged and utilised in an appropriate way, they have much more opportunity to ‘connect’ the candidate to the Client’s company and job opportunity by acting as a Brand Ambassador for the organisation.

Why is the Brand Ambassador approach key to attracting the best talent?

This is where an understanding of a candidate’s ‘motivation to move’ is essential. The primary reasons why individuals join (and leave) organisations are NOT financial – as our article titled “How do companies stop the best talent from leaving their organisation?” recently explained. Therefore, simply approaching the market with a job spec / advert will not be enough to ‘woo’ the A-player candidates that your organisation are seeking to hire. You’ll receive plenty of applications from candidates who will be acceptable and who are immediately available for hire but in order to attract the true A-players, the approach must resemble that of a ‘courtship.’

Finding agencies that have the willing and capability of being a Brand Ambassador

This is key, as I’ve already mentioned, that A-players require a less direct approach that is more like a courtship than transaction. I guarantee that all you Hiring Managers already know which agencies on your PSL fall into each category (transactional or courtship), just from the way that they approach each live vacancy and especially how they submit CV’s. In essence, agencies that prefer to work on the ‘transactional’ model will seldom ask additional (searching) questions after receiving a new job spec and will often submit higher numbers of CV’s for a role (5+). Those agencies that want to act as your ‘Brand Ambassador’ will probe you for more information, often outside of the job role and will then only submit a few well-screened CV’s (sometimes just 1). Proof of the pudding… When I was writing this article, I spoke with a number of Clients who have experienced both types of service over many years (and an abundance of hires) and I’ve highlighted their responses below:

“It comes down to retention and long-term value-add in my opinion. If these are your primary drivers, then you need to think of agencies much more than just a supplier.” “I know it is simpler just to send out a job spec to a bunch of agencies, but you just end up spending loads of time filtering out very average candidates. I prefer spending more time at the beginning of the process to properly brief a handful of agencies, because I know I’m going to get a few really good candidates as a result.” “I actually find that if you build up a good relationship with an agency, they can take care of so much of the work for you. They can pretty much write the whole role up from scratch once you’ve worked with them for a while.” “My approach is if I need a quick fill on a position, I’ll get a contractor in to keep things moving. I don’t understand why some companies take the ‘quick-win’ approach with permanent hires – it only ends up costing time and money in the long-run.” “I have to admit that I’ve actually tested my agencies by sending out a really incomplete job spec, just to see which ones come back to me to ask questions.”

I firmly believe that agencies should act as a resourcing business partner alongside their Clients, not simply a supplier. In my experience companies that use agencies in a more strategic capacity gain a much greater return on their agency spend, as well as creating a workforce of highly sought after talent.

How to start incorporating a Brand Ambassador approach into your recruitment strategy

There are various ways that Hiring Managers can begin to give agencies a greater role and thus, an opportunity to excel, within the recruitment process. In my opinion I would try and experiment by contacting your agencies stating that you wish to recruit an individual for a specific role and you want the agency to submit a plan of attack that will enable you to get the outcome you desire and obtain the best possible talent on the market. See what they come back with. This will enable you to immediately see how your various agencies approach the recruitment process, for example, how many of them suggest the following:

  • On-site meeting – which agencies request to meet you in person and see the team that the person will be working in, to gain a first hand understanding of the practical nature of the role and the team dynamic with all questions asked at this stage.
  • Crafting pertinent job specs – which agencies offer to craft a job spec on your behalf and also how the agency asks additional questions regarding the organisation’s USP’s.
  • Market Reports – which agencies have the ability to create a market report containing key technical and business resource availability, together with bench marketing rates/salaries + benefits packages.
  • Technical testing – what tests are relevant and can the agency execute these on your behalf.
  • Additional pre-screening / testing - psychometric testing and also pre-referencing, not just from an HR, title and dates prospective, but a past Line Manager’s personal prospective. An agency is far more likely to attain a more enlightened reference for their client this way.
  • Off-site interview facilities – does the agency offer to set up the interviews on your behalf, to save you additional time, even hosting them at their offices?

A good agency will want to learn as much as they can about their clients by engaging with the client at a much earlier stage of the recruitment process, doing so to enable them to display their knowledge of the sector and help to add true value to the recruitment process. Equally, a good agency will be asking as many questions outside of the job role as they do about the actual job itself, as this will enable them to build up (and then pass on) a complete picture of the overall career opportunity.

Summary Let’s remind ourselves of the purpose of this article – to help us identify, encourage and then secure the very best talent to join a given organisation. Leading on from this point, we are all well aware that if a candidate is viewed both by the agency and by their client as top tier talent, then they will also be of interest to the client’s opposition. Therefore, who doesn’t want the best business advantage possible in the market place right now? As a company seeking to attract A-players to your organisation, it is essential that you create a framework and strategy that will provide you with the best possible opportunity to achieve this goal. After all, you’re most likely recruiting through an agency anyway, so why not make the most of your recruitment opportunities to ensure that your organisation is being presented in the most attractive possible light. The fact is if you view recruitment as a transactional supply-based relationship, you will only be able to source candidates from a limited pool. However, by altering your approach to recruitment and (as a result) by engaging with pro-active agencies who are keen to want to be an ambassador to your company, the pool in which you can source from will dramatically change.

Would you like more information on this subject?

If you’d like to discuss the viewpoints raised in this article, or would like more information on this subject, please contact Richard Johnson directly at Jenrick IT: 01932 245500 or email: I always look to extend my network with like-minded individuals and if we are not already connected, please do send me a Linked IN invitation.