Are Recruitment Agencies still a great way to find talent?

Finding talent



Every day you don’t have a person in a role it costs your company money, either in opportunity cost or revenue at risk.

So: Time to hire’ is a critical factor that should influence your decision on which channel/s you use to find talent.

Recruitment channels available for finding talent vary between:

  1. Job Boards
  2. Social Media communities
  3. Internal Referrals
  4. Company database
  5. Advertisements ( e.g. Press, TV, Radio)
  6. Recruitment Agency (aka the head-hunter)

A snap shot view of pros and cons of each recruitment channel you could use prior to a recruitment agency:

1.  Job boards

e.g. Jobs DB, Monster


  • Low cost.
  • High volume of talent where general skills are abundant.


  • The talent has to be on the job board.
  • Not all talent has access to internet. (e.g. Only 37% of Thailand has a smartphone)

2.  Social media communities

e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, Naukri, Ren Ren etc.


  • Low cost.
  • You can proactive source people whom may not be actively looking.


  • If they don’t like your marketing message candidates won’t respond
  • If they don’t rate your recruiter they won’t respond e.g. are they senior enough to engage with a C level person on LinkedIn?

3.  Employee Referrals

e.g. Company employees, Company Alumni, Internal Talent.


  • Low cost.
  • A force multiplier to your recruitment as it extends your recruitment team size.
  • Consistent approach to your HR messaging that you investing in your talent.


  • Nepotism, Cronyism can lead to lack of diversity,
  • How do you know that your people know the best in the market; think are all your friends as capable as you? Is internal talent stale, do they bring new ideas?

4.  Company Community Talent pools

e.g. Database, Predictive search software


  • Low – Medium cost.
  • Great if you remain engaged with the talent.
  • Effective if you codify and use correctly.
  • Great sustainability and can lead to just in time hiring.


  • Often poorly managed:
    • The engagement becomes mismanaged, so the talent becomes disengaged.
  • Recruiter’s seldom trained correctly on the tools available.

5.  Advertise

e.g. Radio, TV, Print, Billboards


  • Low cost.
  • It still works great for brand building


  • If your talent doesn’t see the advert, they can’t apply.

So why use a recruitment agency if the other channels can yield your talent.

6. Recruitment Agencies/Vendors.

e.g. Agency, head-hunter, search-firm, Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)


  • Low – Medium – high costs.
  • They can execute on confidential searches, you can’t.
  • They can provide volume scalable solutions instantly you can’t.


  • Perceived high cost of use: Negotiate the price, understand the true costs.
  • They are often only as good as the individual recruiter/s you use.

Final Word:

So, yes, Recruitment firms are still an excellent channel for recruiting! especially when you consider the cost of not having the right talent at the right time.

Because recruitment firms have specialists who:

  • Know their market.
  • Continuously manage their talent communities.
  • Can scale at speed for your needs.
  • Delivery confidential searches.
  • Know how to market your role and company.

So I recommend you have a blended preferred supplier list of firms:

  • Global suppliers to leverage your global spend.
  • Local boutiques who have local market intimacy.
  • RPO for scale and elasticity.
  • Specialist skills firms who have niche networks.
  • A mix of senior search firms to volume recruiters companies.

Because when you have: a need to hire at speed, you understand the financial impact of not hiring, or  a confidential search, you will be glad you have the relationships in place!

Almost the final word, possible companies and people to consider.

Example of companies and individuals I have worked with in recruitment firms who provide exemplary service when engaged correctly:

Great Global Firm Korn Ferry in Asia Pacific  a good contact is Arvind Mathur

Global Firm Heidrick & Struggle’s  in EMEA a good contact is Jake Gordon-Clark

Global Niche Specialist  Carter Morris, specialists in HR Recruitment, a good contact is Leanne Morris

Great recruiter in the UK market is Adrian Dawson  at Michael-Page London

Great RPO Company Simon Bradberry Asia Pacific Resource Solutions.

%d bloggers like this: