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Postscript to The Recruitment Agency Value Paradox

‘The Recruitment Agency Value Paradox’ blog infuriated many of my Recruitment and Search Agency friends and peers, but it and resonated with many Talent Acquisition, HR and Corporate Leaders.

The primary message of the blog is that engaging agencies to undertake permanent recruitment, or having a preferred agency panel should not be a standard position. The agency model with its high fees and self-serving interests is flawed, and has lost its relevance in today’s information rich environment.

Cloud services (SaaS), the rise of social and professional networking, creative approaches to employment marketing, the ability to leverage talent communities, smart recruitment process, and accessing exceptional career recruiters has dislodged the two most important agency value constructs,

  1. being ‘talent networked’ (databases, connections etc)
  2. ‘recruiter’ expertise

There were several common threads in the feedback that I received online and directly from recruitment agency people:

  • Passionate disagreement with my position that well-resourced, and financed internal TA functions can easily outperform agency talent acquisition across all qualitative and quantitative metrics.
  • Counterclaims that recruitment agency costs are justifiable and represent genuine value in consideration of the expertise delivered.
  • Appropriating blame on ‘clients’ and their lack of commitment in engaging therby causing the quality challenges they experience when using agencies.
  • Claims that RPO’s and internal TA are not the panacea for strategic and meaningful recruitment outcomes, and that most of hiring managers are skeptical of the capability of their in-house TA / RPO solution, and that they only engage reluctantly.

Yet these defensive responses and rebuttals failed to adequately make a compelling case why the agency recruitment model is unfairly typecast.

It is no secret that RPO’s and internal TA can experience capability and capacity limitations, and may be guilty of over-promising and mismanaging stakeholder expectations. Likewise, wily agency recruiters can find ‘that difficult’ hire and can occasionally justify their fee. ‘Clients’ can be their own worst enemy at times, exacerbating the client-agency disconnect. No internal business function is perfect and the examples listed are outlier events that require ongoing attention. To use these challenges to entirely justify the agency recruitment model is flawed.

Commentary received from end-user organisations positive. One line of feedback received was why those of us that push out TA commentary only focus on ‘big end of town’ solutions. Why don’t we share insight into what small to medium organisations are doing, what unique practice improvements exist for them, and what smaller companies could be doing in the real world to transform and improve their TA supply chain and brand? A valid good point and one that I take on-board.

And finally….

It was pointed out that my views were covertly and conveniently self-promoting, and bias, as I am a Co-Director of TQSolutions. A TQSolutions is a company that advocates less agency use, saves clients on average of 50% compared to using agencies, builds client IP and capability, and is disrupting the industry by working with internal TA and HR rather than in competition. True, True, True and True?

At TQSolutions, we openly promote contemporary TA practices and support TA/HR to generates real bottom line savings, and deliver higher qualitative outcomes.

Always happy to debate, justify and elaborate.

Adrian Di Natale, Director, TQSolutions

M: 0418 559 764 E: adrian.dinatale@tqsolutions.com.au