You’re too expensive!

You’re too expensive!

Recently we have come up against the question of cost, as it applies to recruitment.  When talking to potential clients, a question that surfaces early in the conversation is about our fee, and whether or not we will discount – often by a significant amount.  Why would we consider doing this?  “Because your competitors are cheaper, and the service that agencies provide isn’t worth the money.”

But aren’t they missing the point?  Recruitment is much more than just finding and forwarding cvs, although the image of the industry can make it seem this way.  Effective recruitment is about searching, interviewing, probing, testing, nurturing relationships, more searching, selling opportunities, even more searching, and understanding both sides as much as possible in order to make a match.  There are job descriptions and budgets to consider, of course, but just as important are the elements that can’t be quantified so easily: personality, attitude, potential, and the chemistry of human relationships.

I recently interviewed a candidate for a client of ours in Birmingham, and during the interview I became as sure as I can be that she was going to get the job, and was going to perform it very well.  Which is exactly what happened.  Although on paper she wasn’t quite the perfect match, she had most of the technical ability, the potential to learn the rest, the right attitude to work, and exactly the type of character for the company in question.

How did I know that she was the person for the job?  Not because I’m psychic, or the best at reading cvs, or with the most up-to-date recruitment system, but because I have a thorough understanding of my client’s job requirements and company culture, along with sufficient commitment from them to be able to take the time to interview a number of candidates until I find the right one.

For us, the best business relationships are with clients who recognise that having an effective recruitment partner is a critical part of company growth, and who are prepared to invest accordingly.  Keeping an eye on costs is one thing, but encouraging multiple agencies to bid against each other and compete for space will lead – inevitably – to cutting corners.  The process turns into a race, and quality suffers as a result.  It’s true that the right candidate might come along, but the whole thing will be less efficient, and without an effective recruitment filter (i.e. a good agency) you’re trusting more to luck than judgement.

Back to the original price question – there is a definite correlation between cost and quality.  Lower cost might mean that a ‘cheap’ agency is working on too many roles at once, which equals less time to spend on each recruitment project.  The resulting service probably isn’t worth the money being spent on it, which justifies the second part of the objection.

If you can afford the time and the risk, go for the cheap option.  If you want your agency to get it right, don’t.