What to Choose: a Recruiting Agency or HR in the Next Room?

Who to entrust the hiring of specialists? That is the question!

Hire an agency? Then you get a group of pros with resources, knowledge, and the opportunity to “find and engage” candidates from the side. Making a choice in favor of the staff? So get a specialist who will be included as much as possible in internal processes. I will analyze the pros and cons of both options. My role as a Head of Business Development in the agency is not an obstacle — we are interested in the influx of only “our” clients, with whom we will work happily ever after. We work with internal HR as one team, and we are not fighting.

Natalya Yarkova, Head of Business Development at Zero to One Search

What the internal HR department gives you:

✅ Cost. If you have a small business and a small budget, then internal HR may be more affordable financially. Agencies are concerned about the time spent, and it is unprofitable for us to give man-hours for nothing when there are companies in front of our doors that are ready to burden our specialists with work and pay more.

✅ There is no risk of information disclosure. It is easier to entrust the secrets of the company to the person working in the next room. But, in my opinion, these are psychological barriers; no agency will share your secrets with competitors. If you are worried, then write down all the nuances in the contract.

✅ Exclusive attention. In agencies, there is often a fight for “star” managers. With internal service, you will be sure that you get the maximum focus of employee attention.

✅ Control over corporate principles. With the internal HR manager, you have more control levers in your hands. Plus, a person who spends a lot of time inside the company is more familiar with its culture and values. Agency specialist relies on decisions based on his/her experience, which also includes work with others.

✅ Speed of resolving issues. It is logical that in the absence of an intermediary (candidate-agency-your company-agency-candidate), the speed of information processing increases. You will save on meetings, approvals, calls.

In a nutshell:

Understand what you want to load the future employee with, and look for an HR or team for the tasks. Allocate a budget for HR training: the recruiting area is developing rapidly, the upgrade of knowledge (especially in the IT field) to keep pace with the market is critical.

What the agency gives you:

✅ Two heads are better than one. By concluding an agreement with an agency, you are not buying the attention of one person, but a team. The possibilities of internal HR are severely limited, no matter how brilliant it may be. The dynamics of the agency, experience, the power of agency data — all of this allows you to get high-quality and quick solutions, as well as coping with new tasks that were not there at all when you were looking for an internal specialist.

✅ More opportunities. The agency, which has been working in the market for several years, has the necessary contacts and relations with potential candidates. You will get access to warm candidates that are impossible to get with the ‘advertise and apply’ model.

✅ Reduction of hidden costs. In addition to the direct costs of hiring staff, some less obvious cost factors should also be taken into account. It may be, for instance, the duration of the recruitment process and the qualifications of the person being hired. Costs like these are often difficult to quantify. They manifest themselves as lost revenues rather than expenses, but they have a similar impact on company results. Plus, there are paid professional tools, time, and resources that the agency invests in the candidate’s database. All these facts make it easier to find a better candidate faster.

✅ Expert access to the market and experience. The agency serves several clients, so tracking trends and knowledge of technology is a matter of course. There is nowhere for an inner worker to take professional insights from if his/her leadership is not investing in training, and he/she is not very inquisitive. Nowadays, unfortunately, small and medium-sized businesses are saving on the training of their specialists.

✅ Quality of candidates. Potential candidates represented by the agency have already passed pre-screening, screening, and interviews. Points such as language skills or document matching for relocation are also taken into account. As a result, the time spent by the company is significantly reduced and it gets the best-selected candidates, most of the work has already been done by the agency.

✅ Warranties. The remuneration that the agency receives after the placement of the candidate, according to the agency rules, will need to be returned if the candidate does not pass the trial period in the company. As an option, the agency can also search for a replacement for this candidate.

✅ Easier to choose. The internal HR specialist should be “yours” in many ways, suit you and the team personally and professionally. With the manager from the agency, it is much easier. He/she does not go on maternity leave, vacation, etc. Well, yes, he/she leaves, but there is always a replacement within the team. While working on several vacancies at the same time, you can expand the team for your new task or ask to replace the account manager. This is not so easy with the internal worker.

In a nutshell:

Explore the market — colleagues’ references, ratings, presence in the information field, feedback from the candidates themselves. If you are afraid to immediately rush into cooperation with the agency, contact a company of your choice for a one-time service or start with a free consultation or audit of your vacancies.

What to choose eventually?

It all depends on what goals you pursue and what budget you have. The main factor is finances. If the budget is very limited, a regular HR specialist is more suitable. In particular cases, some companies hire freelancers — among them you can find someone who is willing to devote part of the time to the project. However, you should not expect the same results as from a recruiting agency. It’s like buying a bicycle and expecting Audi comfort from it.

Some companies need to fill several specific positions at once, and the internal worker might not be ready for such scope of work and at the same time paying enough attention to corporate culture and onboarding processes. А master of all is a master of nothing.

There are companies that try to work with the agency first but then acquire an internal team. Or maybe there will be enough tasks and opportunities for both sides?



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