Recruitment Methods: Which is the Best Option for Me?

recruitment methods

A lot has changed in recruitment over the last 10-15 years and there are many options to choose from when it comes to recruitment methods.

Recruiters have been around since the early 60’s and traditionally, they would charge a % of the salary. If, for example, you were to be paying £30,000 salary and the recruiter is charging 15% fees, then you will be asked to pay the recruiter £4,500, which is usually payable on the day the new candidate starts in your business.

However, in the last 10 years the landscape for the way recruiters and employers interact has changed and there are some other recruitment methods that have become available.

This has mainly come about since the internet grew and became what we know today. The late 90’s/early 2000’s, saw the advent of the major job boards, giving easier access to candidates for direct employers and recruitment agencies that advertise positions through the job board websites.

This article looks at all of the options that are open to you when you need some recruitment support for your business.

Firstly, we’ll look at DIY – doing it yourself through Social Media or Job boards.

Recruitment Method #1: Do-It-Yourself

Job boards were great for advertising (and still are) with sites like Monster, Reed, Totaljobs and Jobsite. More recently Indeed has come along to “aggregate” the jobs anyone can view on the internet . . . think of Indeed a bit like Google but specifically for jobs . . . so where Google is there to organise ALL the information available on the internet, Indeed is there to organise and make searchable all of the JOBS available on the internet, whether from direct employer websites (company websites), job boards (as listed above), or from Indeed themselves as it is possible to “sponsor” your listing to be found more easily on their site, just like it is possible to pay Google to advertise your listing so that you appear at the top of the search.

However, one of the biggest changes was the dawn of social media – Facebook, Twitter and possibly most importantly LinkedIn.

Social Media Platforms

Social Media platforms changed the way things happen: you can find your target candidates through these platforms and engage with them either directly by connecting and starting a conversation, or indirectly by sharing content about your company and its culture, as well as the current roles you have available.

It can seem to be very cost effective doing everything yourself, especially using social media channels. However, this does not take account of how much of your own time and effort is being expended, and also does not account for the opportunity cost/opportunity loss of doing it yourself when you could have filled the vacancy and had someone appointed in a fraction of the time by calling in some support.

If you do have the resource in your business and the time to do it all yourself then it can work very well. Many companies are employing dedicated in-house recruiters now to essentially fill the roles as if they were an agency in-house, but this is not a luxury every business can afford.

Return on Investment

The one thing I would urge you to consider in all of this, as with any investment, is your return on investment, or as I call it “return on hire” – what is the total cost of hiring, including agency fees, salary and benefits vs. what is the potential return?

A great sales person, manager, marketer, finance professional or leader could transform your business by bringing new leads, sales, savings, investments and the ability to galvanise your workforce meaning greater rewards and benefits for you and the business as well as everyone in it. If there is a specialist that can help you get to that talent more quickly and effectively then it could be worth exploring the support they could offer, even if just by having an initial chat.

recruitment methods

We will now begin to look at the different types of recruitment agencies that are available to offer support when your business is seeking new employees. There is a wide variety of options that exist for drafting in assistance in filling your company’s vacancies.

Despite all of the changes in the field of recruitment, and especially the massive advantages that the internet, social media and online job boards have brought to the table, recruitment agencies still very much exist, and they add value despite all these new channels being available. In many ways, the best recruiters have adapted their own searching skills to make best use of all these channels. Many agencies still charge at the same level, and we will cover off the reasons why throughout this post.

We will now be looking at flat fee (or fixed fee) recruitment.

Recruitment Method #2: Flat (Fixed) Fee Recruitment

In the last 10 years there has been an interesting change in the recruitment agency world itself with the introduction and rise of “Flat Fee Recruitment” or “Fixed Fee Recruitment” agencies.

A flat fee recruiter typically harnesses the power of the internet for you by “bundling” job boards and social media in support of your campaign. They tend to conduct more of a recruitment research/resourcing campaign relevant to your needs that will often include some recruitment advertising and response management.

The two main differences here are that the “campaign” is time bound and will run out at some point, and secondly the campaign is worked out at a flat/fixed cost that you agree in advance. That is to say, it is not dependant on a percentage rate of what may be a variable salary, meaning you can budget for any fees which will likely be lower. However, there is no absolute guarantee that you will find someone, so it’s worth asking what the company’s “success rate” is with vacancies like yours.

If you think through your options for recruiting, and have considered doing some direct advertising perhaps on job boards, then you would have to pay in advance anyway, so it’s worth considering this option as it certainly removes lots of hassle as you will get a recruitment professional doing lots of the hard work for you.

CV Database

Other benefits of working with a flat fee recruiter can also be that they will likely have far more reach and experience than you when it comes to job boards, social media and also CV database searching (basically where they perform a search through a CV database they subscribe to, pluck out the best matching CV’s and contact the job-seeker to discuss your opportunity leaving you with a shortlist of the very best candidates).

CV database searching and social media usage can be really good for you because it will help you access “passive” candidates, i.e. candidates that you wouldn’t normally see because they aren’t necessarily reviewing current adverts.

It is therefore always worth asking a potential supplier:

  • Which job boards do you have relationships with?
  • Which CV databases will you be searching?
  • Which social media channels will you use and how?
  • What is your success rate with a job/vacancy like mine?
  • How long does my campaign last with you?
  • What happens if you don’t fill it within that timeframe?

Once you know the answers to these questions, you can decide whether using a flat/fixed fee recruitment solution is the right recruitment method for you, your business and your vacancy.

recruitment methods

We’ll now continue to look at the different types of recruitment agencies that are available to offer support, focussing next on the more traditional solutions.

So far, we have explored the option of DIY recruitment and also flat/fixed fee recruitment solutions but we now turn our attention to the more traditional “temporary” or “permanent” contingency recruiters.

Recruitment Method #3: Traditional Agencies

These come in 3 main categories:

1. Contingency “pay on placement” for permanent full/part time employees (where fees are a percentage of salary which we highlighted in the first section of this post).

2. Temporary Staffing – the agency will be the employer of the staff they send you and make their margin from the difference between what they charge you and what they pay the candidates.

3. Head Hunters (we’ll explore this option in the next section).

Benefits of Contingency Agencies

The main benefit to your business of using a contingency “pay on placement” or “temp” agency is that you will only ever pay the fee to the introducer if they place a candidate in your organisation.

This can be great for cash-flow and you may be able to negotiate payment terms of between 7 and 90 days before having to pay the fee.

An additional benefit of using one of the above options is that you could engage multiple recruiters and set them all about the task of introducing you to the best talent that they have available on their books and you will only pay the introducer that finds you the person or people that you want to hire.

Rebate of fees is something you should look at closely in the terms you agree with a contingency recruiter. Put simply this means that if the candidate that they introduce you to leaves within a certain timeframe (usually somewhere between 1 month and 6 months) then you will be credited back with a % of the fee that you have paid them.

The rebate terms may also provide you with an option of not just having some of your money back but instead having a replacement candidate introduced to you at no extra charge.

All of the above can usually be negotiated with the individual agency, although the larger PLC agencies are usually less willing to negotiate and have “standard” terms with little “wiggle” room, but you should be prepared to at least go back and ask for some discount on fees, improvement/extension of payment terms or increase in the time frame for rebate of fees/replacement candidate. Offering some level of exclusivity for the agency to work on your vacancy will usually give an agency the incentive to offer you a better fee or improved terms.

A Word of Caution . . .

Take time to select the agencies that you actually want to work with and don’t be swayed during a recruitment campaign by an agency that approaches you offering their services claiming they have the “perfect” candidate for your vacancy.

Working closely and building a relationship with 2 or 3 industry or location specific agencies can provide you with lots of benefits like improved terms and also industry insights about competitors. The partnership with these suppliers will mean that you get access to their very best candidates and they will get to know your unique business environment, offering and culture so that they can represent you correctly to the right people, making better matches and helping you achieve your business goals.

Nothing will disenfranchise a recruiter more than an offer of exclusivity on a vacancy only to find that there are actually 5 or more agencies working on the role, and they will find this out as recruiters are largely fishing in the same pool and will no doubt encounter duplicate candidates throughout their search.

If you would like to chat through how to build a PSL (preferred supplier list) of agencies for your business and understand how you can implement “Tiered” agencies then please feel free to give me a call to discuss.

recruitment methods

In the final section of exploring recruitment methods, we look at the option of engaging the Executive Search/Head Hunter who aims to target the more passive part of the market for candidates who may not otherwise be looking.

Recruitment Method #4: Head Hunting

Head Hunters/Executive Search consultants will access the candidates in the market with the exact skills and experience that you require, potentially from your direct competition, and usually candidates that are not “actively” seeking a move and therefore not looking at advertisements.

Of all of the candidates available in the market, here are some broad figures to consider:

  • 25% are ACTIVE – they are looking at adverts and are very open to a move.
  • 35% are PASSIVE – they are not actively looking but would be receptive to a move for the right opportunity if approached in the right manner by someone able to engage with them in the right way.
  • 40% are CURRENTLY HAPPY – they are very content in their current position, well rewarded for the work that they do and would not consider a move even for better compensation.

These figures show that approximately a third of the market are PASSIVE and these are the people that a Head Hunter/Executive Search firm will actively target, build a rapport with and, at the right stage, talk to them about your opportunity before screening them for suitability and presenting them to you for your consideration. This means your shortlist is likely to be made up of people who have demonstrated commitment and ability elsewhere. They are likely to be a much higher calibre of candidate.

Head Hunters/Executive Search agencies will typically charge a % of salary, and this can be anywhere from 20-40% of salary. Many agencies ask for a third of the anticipated fee in advance as a “retainer”, with another third payable on presentation of a shortlist, and the balance payable when the offer is made to the candidate.

With Executive Search and Permanent Contingency solutions, you would expect to have a rebate of fees payable back to you if the candidate introduced leaves within a certain timescale usually between 6 weeks – 1 year depending on the level of the role or the deal you have negotiated. 

Summary – Which are the BEST Recruitment Methods for Me?

In overall summary, when deciding which recruitment method or solution is best for you and your business, there are many things to consider. One of the most important considerations however in any of this, is the TIME v COST impact on your business (see diagram).

In any scenario, it is also important for a partner (internally or externally) to understand your business and its unique culture in fine detail so that they can accurately demonstrate the benefits to the candidates.


I’m always keen to chat through these options with existing or prospective clients and if possible tailor the appropriate solution to assist.

If you think I can help, or would like a chat, please get in touch.