A Guide To Tech Companies: Questions to Ask Your Tech Recruitment Agency Before Partnering with Them

Hiring tech talent is a critical task for any business. However, the stories of frustration with external recruiting agencies in the industry abound. Many companies have had less than ideal experiences when expanding their tech teams but it doesn’t have to be this way. In this article, we’ll share some insights to help you navigate the process of choosing a tech recruiter or agency more effectively.
A Guide To Tech Companies

Finding the Right Tech Talent Partner in South Africa

Hiring tech talent is a critical task for any business. However, the stories of frustration with external recruiting agencies in the industry abound. Many companies have had less than ideal experiences when expanding their tech teams but it doesn’t have to be this way. In this article, we’ll share some insights to help you navigate the process of choosing a tech recruiter or agency more effectively.

1. Say No to Cold Calls and Unsolicited CVs

The path to finding a talented tech recruitment partner doesn’t start with responding to cold calls or sifting through unsolicited CVs. Expecting high-quality talent solutions and experiences from such interactions is not reasonable. If you receive unsolicited CVs for roles you’re not even recruiting for, it’s a red flag. Respectful practices and privacy-conscious recruiters are more likely to provide you with top-tier service.

2. Representing Your Brand Matters

For challenging, scarce skilled, technical or senior positions, consider this: the recruiter you choose represents your brand. They’ll be the first face of your talent process so evaluate if they can engage talent at the level you’re hiring for effectively. Do they ask intelligent questions about your company, role and technical environment? Their ability to do so reflects their competence.

3. Interview Your Potential Recruiter

Before partnering with an external recruiter or agency, schedule a meeting with them. It’s essential to establish a connection. Here’s what to consider:

  • Do you feel comfortable with this person? Building a positive rapport is crucial.
  • Ask about their recruitment process. Look for recruiters who maintain high standards both for candidates and clients. Such recruiters will maintain high standards for themselves as well.
  • Ensure your values align. Shared values contribute to a successful partnership.
  • Find out who will work on your roles within the agency. Investigate their experience and background on LinkedIn. Often the person you meet is not the person who will be working on your roles. Clarify this and ensure that you are comfortable.
  • Every agency or recruitment team has their own style, focus and area of expertise. As a recruiter myself, who regularly interviews other recruiters, I have yet to find two agencies who work similarly or focus on the same things. Find out what this team does well and consider how that may benefit your business.
  • Tech isn’t a niche – it’s broad! Ask about their clients, and what they recruit for the most and use the conversation to gauge if their exposure transfers well to your company type or not. The longer they have been recruiting in tech environments the easier it will be to pick up whatever you have for them.

4. LinkedIn Checks and Experience

After identifying who will be handling your roles, check their LinkedIn profiles as you would someone you were hiring for your own team. How much experience do they have in recruitment, especially in the tech field? Do they have enough knowledge to navigate your specific industry and technical requirements? Do they have the business or technical context needed to source and engage your future staff? Experience counts when it comes to adding value to your team.

5. You Get what You Pay for

Like with anything, you get what you pay for. If your agency or recruiter offers fees half of what other professionals have quoted you, then continue at your own risk. If you want a top tier service, understand that recruiters who have been successful for 20 years in your field don’t cost the same as a recent grad. So consider the complexity of your environment before deciding the level of expertise you need. There are often ways to grab the attention of a high-quality recruiter for a reasonable (but not cheap) fee. Taking them on a retainer or signing an exclusivity agreement are two strategies you could use to negotiate that.

6. Understand the Agency’s Approach

The reason many companies struggle with recruiters isn’t that all recruiters are terrible; it’s often because companies aren’t proactive in their selection process. When partnering with an external recruiter or agency, focus on more than just B-BBEE level, tax clearance certificates and fee structures. Ask about the team’s composition, hiring processes and the values they uphold. Assessing these areas will help you determine the value they can bring to your environment.

7. Once You Have Them

When you have found an agency or team you want to work with, it would be highly advisable to find out from them what makes a good client, from their perspective, and see if you can meet those expectations to ensure that you are co-creating a positive partnership. Partnerships are not bought, especially if on contingency. If you have a good recruiter, or team, they will only stay engaged for as long as it makes sense for them to do so. If they are good, they will have high standards. That would usually translate to high standards of themselves, of their candidates, and of their clients. You are going to need to meet their standards in the same way you want them to meet yours. Especially if they work for you on a contingency basis.

Find out what would make you a valued client and work to become that, if its reasonable. Often this means giving feedback in a respectable timeframe, working with them to help them win with you, furnishing them with the information they need to support you, ensuring you only give them placeable work that doesn’t waste their time, trusting them with the work you give them without the need to find other agencies to work against them.

If you do this, you will likely develop a highly engaged, motivated and successful working partnership that will very possibly become a flexible, cost-effective and productive extension of your talent team.

Choosing the right tech recruiter or agency is crucial for successful talent acquisition. By asking the right questions and considering these factors, you can ensure that you partner with professionals who align with your values and goals, ultimately enhancing your hiring process.

I hope these insights will help you find the ideal tech talent partner for your business.

Leigh Duffield

Leigh is the founder of Progressive Edge and an enthusiast of creating healthy, sustainable work places. Operating from Cape Town, South Africa, Leigh brings her passion and attention to detail to a global audience.

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