Are Recruitment Firms Worth It?


One of the biggest challenges facing small businesses is managing costs. So, if you’ve ever baulked at the notion of approaching a recruitment firm to help you source staff for your business, it’s understandable. However, before you rule out the idea on a cost basis, it’s important to consider the vital role a good recruiter can play in your growth and success. Regardless of the maturity or size of your business, a competent professional recruiter can actually reduce the overall cost of sourcing the right talent, and help propel your enterprise to the next level.  Here’s why…

DIY recruitment can be time-consuming

Anyone who has ever attempted a do-it-yourself house renovation will know that it always takes longer than you expected, and a botched attempt usually costs twice as much as you planned. Typically you either need to watch a few more YouTube tutorials and try again, or call in a professional to do it properly. The same applies to hiring. Writing job descriptions, publishing job ads, sifting through CVs, conducting interviews, referencing checking, and creating a shortlist takes up valuable time. A recruitment company can do all of this for you, freeing you up to grow your business in other areas.

A mistake can be costly

Without the right experience, tools (such as psychometric testing) and skills (such as behavioural interviewing techniques), there’s always a possibility that you’ll hire the wrong person. It is estimated that the cost of a hire is around three times the person’s salary, due to on-boarding and training, as well as the time it takes to bring a new employee up to full productivity (not to mention the effects a ‘bad hire’ can have on the culture of your business). In much the same way that an outsourced accountant, solicitor or IT consultant can add vital support to a burgeoning small business, a reputable recruitment specialist can take away much of the pain associated with hiring, helping you source the best possible talent the first time around.

Choosing the right recruitment firm

Once you’ve decided that a recruitment specialist could help your business, the next step is choosing the one that’s going to deliver the maximum benefits. Here are a few tips to help you make the right choice…

  • Align yourself with a reputable recruiter
    Beware of ‘transactional’ agencies; those looking simply to fill an employment gap quickly, rather than finding the right person for the role, long term. Do your research and look for evidence that backs up their service offering.
  • Decide whether you need a specialist or generalist recruiter
    Generalist recruiters are great for bulk recruitment or less-senior roles. However, if you are recruiting for a leadership, management other key role – a specialist is the way to go. They will know your industry and have strong, career-long relationships with relevant prospects, enabling them to quickly identify ideal candidates.
  • Find a recruiter that can tap into the ‘passive’ talent
    The most sought after talent is already happily employed, and therefore won’t see your job listing. A good recruiter, however, will have nurtured long-term relationships with ‘passive’ talent and can present them with interesting opportunities that might just inspire a move.
  • Partner up and be honest
    Look for a firm that offers a long-term, partnership-style approach, and give them lots of of detail about your business and the role. Be honest about any shortcomings, such as the need for culture change or greater innovation­, as this will help the recruiter shortlist the candidates who will have the most positive impact in these areas.

Christine Khor is the Managing Director of Chorus Executive and Chair of The Hunger Project’s Victorian Development Board as well as a finalist for the 2015 Telstra Business Women’s Award. Her book “Hire Love: How to hire passionate people to make greater profit” has recently been published.