5 Ways Recruiting Firms Can Help You Up Your Game

September 4, 2019

No one’s getting through today’s record-setting war for talent alone. CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association, reported that the unemployment rate for tech talent fell to 1.3 percent in May of this year. Some of the world’s largest companies like Amazon and Walmart are announcing large-scale and costly employee retraining programs to retain the talent they have while navigating the ways automation and emerging technologies change how people work. Every employee and every new hire is essential in this candidate-scarce marketplace, which makes the work of recruiting firms like Harvey Nash more important than ever.

“Can’t my internal recruiting team handle the challenge?” many business leaders ask me. Not all of it. Internal recruiters understand your business, but external recruiters know what makes you different. Recruiting partners can optimize your recruiting knowledge and improve your hiring game in numerous ways. Here, in my opinion, are the top five:


#1 Competitive Insight

Recruiting firms source talent for many different companies. Specialized firms often work with companies in the same industry, of the same size, in the same location, etc. They know why your competitors are getting the people you aren’t. They gather invaluable hiring data that can explain what’s working and what’s not in recruitment at the moment. 

In many instances, hiring managers come to us looking for market rate data. They want their executives to see how raising a rate can increase the quantity and quality of candidates applying. In a recent example, our team in Seattle provided Software Development Engineer (SDE) compensation data on the 10 most recent hires within the Seattle market, industry and technology specialization. It was exactly what their leadership team needed to see to make changes to their compensation packages. As a result, the client organization saw a surge in candidate applications and made several hires in just a few weeks. 


#2 Employer Brand Expertise

To succeed in placing talent, recruiting firms have to have a firm grasp on how the brands they hire for are perceived and what employers are doing right and wrong to attract and retain good employees. They connect with talent at all stages of the employment life cycle, and they do it across numerous brands and industries. They may be hearing brand perception insights from  candidates that a certain company is seen as “old school” because of the technologies they are using or offers limited growth potential. In these cases, recruiting partners can help organizations counter balance negative and false assumptions. For example, they might help a business create case studies and candidate engagement talking points that demonstrate innovative initiatives, a drive for the latest technologies (a great way to get tech talent interested), and/or commitment to employee training and advancement. In addition to providing the guidance, they are also still on the front lines of recruitment and can assess and report on whether changing messages has an impact on brand perception and candidate engagement. 


#3 Candidate Candor

Internal recruiters are not always attuned to the external buzz on their employment brand or employment offers. The candidates applying for positions are unlikely to give frank feedback. External recruiters, however, are more likely to hear authentic input from candidates about how a brand is perceived, what people think it’s like to work there, why they turned down an offer and how former employees and even existing ones talk about the business.

Take for example a client we were supporting in the FinTech industry. They were struggling for months to fill IT associate roles despite having numerous strong candidates. Our discussions with candidates told us that the hiring manager was taking too long to get back to strong candidates who were getting plenty of other strong offers. In addition, the checklist of requirements was so long that prospective employees were intimidated by it. We convinced the hiring manager to trim down the list, hiring someone on a contract-basis first to see if someone who met eight out of the 10 skill requirements could succeed. The contract position was quickly filled, and the new hire is in the process of being converted to a full-time employee. Insights like these that come straight from candidates are useful in identifying missed hiring opportunities, brand challenges and ways to tap into value sets that align between clients and strong candidates.


#4 Knowing What’s Next

From training, to the four-day work week, to incredible signing bonuses such as luxury vehicles (yes, I’ve seen this), recruiting firms know what employers are offering and what candidates are seeking. When there is a new trend in benefits that is impacting career decisions or “fun” perks reeling candidates in, recruiting firms are on the early and inside track. Insider information into these trends and how to respond can help employers build attractive offers that keep them ahead of the recruitment curve. 


#5 Intelligent Engagement

A recruiting firm can also serve as a workforce design consultant, helping businesses make the right hiring choice at the right time. Skill shortages are not steady. There can be widespread peaks and valleys for hard-to-fill roles based on factors like the time of year or whether key employers are experiencing growth or trimming down their teams. With the help of a recruiting firm that has broader insight into the employment market, a business is better equipped to adapt to these dynamics. 

Intelligence from recruiting firms can inform employers when talent supplies are low and demand is sky high—a good time to consider making contract or contract-to-hire offers. On the other hand, a recruiting firm might report a spike in talent availability, such as when there are layoffs at a company, making employers aware of a window of opportunity for making strong full-time hires. It’s the kind of market data that helps businesses hire smarter. 


So there you have at least five opportunities to up your recruiting game and only one step to tap into them all: find a strong recruiting firm partner and get to work.