By Jessica Miller-Merrell 

A recruiting agency is a powerful tool for any recruiting team to have, and if you work for an organization that has access to one, it’s vital to know how to make the most of the partnership. As I talked about in part one, recruiting agencies add value to your efforts in a number of ways, including the support they give. Unlike total recruiting outsourcing, they come alongside your internal recruitment team and lend their expertise, connections and reach to amplify your current recruiting. But in order to do so, you’ll need to take proactive measures as well.
Make the most of the partnership by taking these key actions:
Set expectations
The expectations you express in the beginning of a partnership, or during a revamp period, set the stage for the entire partnership. They help the recruiting agency understand what you want and need from them, help you hold them accountable and help with shaping your strategy. During this time, it’s important to define what you expect the agency to do, but setting expectations can also be part of your contract negotiations. How much assistance do you need? What kind of time commitment do you want from them? The best-case scenario here is that your recruiting agency would be on retainer and become a significant part of your strategy. Setting expectations can also include collaborating on a recruiting strategy so that both parties understand what their roles are.
Ask questions
Take advantage of your recruiting agency by making it a habit to ask questions. Even if it’s an aspect of your recruiting strategy that they’re not part of, don’t be afraid to seek their input. This is where having your recruiting agency on retainer can be an asset to your team. When you have the freedom to seek their advice and expertise, it can only strengthen your recruiting program. Also, it can be powerful to have an outside perspective. Their expertise can help you move beyond the limitations of your current company culture and help you translate job titles and acronyms into a message that appeals to the best candidates. Often times, we are too close to a situation to see what’s best, but an outsider can make all the difference.
Push back
Don’t be afraid to push back when you don’t necessarily agree with the agency’s strategy. Yes, your recruiting agency likely carries a great amount of expertise, but you carry knowledge of your company that they may not have. Don’t be blindly led when your instincts or knowledge tell you otherwise. Instead, use these moments as an opportunity for collaboration. Take the best of their expertise and the best of your institutional knowledge and combine it to recruit the right candidates in the right way.
Leverage their expertise
The real value that a recruiting agency brings isn’t necessarily its manpower but rather its expertise. After all, if all your recruiting team needed was more hours in the day to get things done, you could have simply hired another person. Instead, you brought on a team of experts that have skills and knowledge that one or two corporate recruiters could never have. It’s not that they are better than the average recruiter. It’s just that they can objectively look at a problem and also have many experts and connections available to them, meaning that when your company hires them, you have access to them as well.
Bringing in a recruiting agency is nearly always a positive for your recruiting efforts, but the key is knowing how to work with them. Each recruiting team, and recruiting agency, is different but when you know how to bring out the best in each other, you’ll see what a powerful investment it can be. Watch for part three of this series to see strategies for bringing out the best in the partnership. 

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell 

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