Human resources departments are faced with a challenge in recruitment and selection. They are often tasked to find the correct person for a difficult job within a very tight deadline. Most HR managers are unlikely to have lists of suitable candidates at their fingertips, networks of contacts take too long to build up and advertisements for a vacancy can take several days or longer to place and publish. Then the process of screening applications and making a selection can be overwhelmingly time-consuming. Some HR managers might turn to doing an on-line search for candidates, but there is still the challenge of targeted selection and sifting. While a position remains unfilled, there are considerable costs to a company in terms of lost productivity, and someone has to carry the extra workload, putting added strain on the existing workforce.
This is the reality faced by so many HR departments in South Africa's - and indeed the world's - skills-short market and it is this kind of challenge that has given rise to the thousands of recruitment companies operating in this country. This leads to the next hurdle: which criteria should influence your choice in a recruitment agency?
Companies look for a number of advantages when they engage the services of recruitment consultants. For instance, recruitment agencies should have access to industry networks, advertising, an existing database and other resources to enable them to find skilled candidates quickly. They can save the HR manager a great deal of time by doing the screening required to find a short list of suitable candidates as the consultants should be skilled in competency-based interviewing techniques. In addition, the experience and training of recruiting consultants is invaluable when it comes to making prudent selections. Furthermore, the recruiter should test candidates, arrange interviews and discuss career paths and employment packages. Ideally the HR manager will not need to be involved in the process until the top three candidates available for the job are introduced and interviewed.
For many companies, possibly the most value can be gained from a recruiter who provides a personal tailored service. Derek Patrick of The Design Company, and Nic Roodt of ProSolutions, have both benefited from the personal services of specialist recruitment consultants, who have been able to provide exactly the recruitment solutions they require.
Both Patrick and Roodt emphasise the importance of the personal aspect of this recruitment support. They selected recruitment specialists who have extensive experience of their own industry sector and who work very closely with them to find candidates of the right fit.
Ideally, this kind of service starts with a written service agreement outlining the recruiter's credentials, methodology and deliverables.
Then the consultant needs to spend time finding out about the company's business and vision, and matters such as challenges faced by the HR department, as well as the company's long-term strategy. Armed with such insights, the recruiter is in a much stronger position to find the right people for the client.
Ultimately, a mutually supportive relationship between the recruiter and the client ensures the most effective results. This level of involvement with the client allows the recruiter to promote the vision of a company, foster interest in it and establish the company's reputation as an employer of choice. This is certainly the route to attracting top calibre talent - and it is the best human capital value a recruiter can provide.
At a practical level the HR department can benefit enormously from working closely with the recruitment consultant. The recruiter can share expertise, assist line management where necessary with regard to methodology, give advice on streamlining formalities and procedures to bring new staff on board and ensure that paperwork is completed quickly once an offer of employment has been accepted. Also, by keeping regular contact with the HR manager, the recruiter is able to keep abreast of staff movement and development within the company and anticipate skills needs, so that when a vacancy comes up, he or she can quickly line up a selection of the appropriate candidates.
A further advantage that both Roodt and Patrick appreciate is that their recruitment consultants are knowledgeable about market conditions and often make practical suggestions about the kinds of people who are available in the labour market or, alternately, about the kinds of compromises that are required when an ideal match cannot be found. This is the kind of service that impacts measurably on a company's productivity and growth. Indeed, both Roodt and Patrick agree that in terms of trust and integrity, this level of tailored recruitment places the recruiter closer to the position of a business partner than that of a service provider.
The HR manager is therefore likely to benefit most from a recruitment service, which includes solid relationships based on trust, support and co-operation and where the recruiter acts in the very best interests of the client - these are the criteria that make the difference. With the right methodology and such fundamental principles in place, the recruiter can offer priceless value.
For more information contact Isobel McAleenan, +27 (0)11 886 8988.