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Making the most of agency recruiting to scale quickly

Agency recruiting can be a life save if you're scaling up at a fast pace and what to make sure you're hiring the right people. But how does it work?
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While many growing business owners prefer the personal touch when it comes to taking on new staff, if fast scaling is desired then, agency recruiting can provide sound support.

Outsourcing any business process comes with pros and cons, and agency recruiting is no exception.

For small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) looking to take on a new-hire, finding the right person for a role can be make or break – adding someone new to the mix when the whole team is only four or five people for example can make a real difference.

It’s important to think about cultural fit, how that person might change the dynamic of the working environment, and how competent they are within that role as they are likely to shoulder a lot of responsibility in a smaller operation.

“For startups and growth businesses, candidates who have an entrepreneurial spark themselves work well. You need to find candidates who are creative, independent, use their initiative well, are determined and most of all, passionate,” explained Beatrice Bartlay, managing director and founder of 2B Interface.

Getting this just right can take time, and that’s something entrepreneurs are often short on – whereas an agency recruiting can shoulder this task, and see to it that relevant applicants are sent the right way.

“Finding the ‘gold winning team’ is not a quick process so I would advise companies that are looking to recruit quickly to dedicate adequate resources to the process and if you can’t, find the right recruitment partner to help in this area.”

Agencies may cost money, but in the long-term these service providers can pay dividends by saving timeand helping make the right choices. For any business to scale successfully, it needs the right team behind the wheel.

Why is recruitment so hard?

Recruitment is always hard, because there’s more to it than a set of check boxes and qualifications.

“In the current market recruiting is challenging for all. For small businesses it is about presenting the opportunity for the candidate in the current role and potential in the future; this needs effort in sharing accurately and honestly, said Sarah Hopkins, director of Hopkins Longworth.

When growing at a fast pace, Hopkins warns that some businesses tend to focus too much on what is needed at the present time rather than thinking ahead to what will be needed in the future. When hiring in a scale-up, always consider whether a person will be able to deliver in a different organisation to the one they joined initially, she added.

It is worth highlighting that political and economical circumstances also affect recruitment – and Brexit is affecting businesses up and down the country.

“We are living in an age of uncertainty in which a large pool of our labour is feeling unwelcome and uncomfortable so there is a mass migration. Recent research has shown we are nearly at full employment – although no one likes to say so. Unemployment has never been lower and our pool of talent has never been smaller. Recruitment is becoming more challenging and we need to look after and focus on retaining the talent we have within our organisations,” explained Hopkins.

How does it work with agencies?

Recruitment is tough, and it’s even tougher for small business with stretch resources trying to scale up quickly. To make it worse, if you get it wrong it can be damaging for your business.

Recruitment agencies cost money, but overall, professional advice might not be a bad idea. So, how do they work?

“The process is simple – the recruitment agency will meet with the employer to discuss specific requirements. The recruiter will then have discussions with relevant candidates to evaluate appropriateness for the role and put forward only the best candidates to the employer. The employer will interview the candidates and feedback to the recruiter, who will negotiate the job offer between the two parties,” said Bartlay.

Hopkins believes that the only disadvantage to hiring an agency for recruitment is if you select the wrong one.

“This can be both costly and time consuming for small businesses,” she said.

“You need to feel confident they will act as effective ambassadors for you, your business and brand. This is a critical relationship. At such a pivotal point in the small business development they need a consultancy they can really rely on.”

What does a scale-up have to offer?

The last point to consider is this – a recruitment agency can lead the talent to a business’ door, but it can’t make them enlist.

“This is something which takes up many column inches as ‘the war for talent is over; talent has won’. It is worth recognising that there may only be two or three people out there who can do the job you want,” explained Hopkins.

If talent is scarce, it’s likely that there will be other businesses out there vying for their attention. If they have more to offer, the candidates could get snapped up. Know your competition, and try to offer a package that will appeal to new-comers.

This article is part of a wider campaign called the Scale-up Hub, a section of Real Business that provides essential advice and inspiration on taking your business to the next level. It’s produced in association with webexpenses and webonboarding, a fast-growing global organisation that provides cloud-based software services that automate expenses management and streamline the employee onboarding process.

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About Author

Letitia Booty

Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Real Business. She has a BA in english literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

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