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Rebates shouldn’t be the primary focus for choosing a recruitment agency

Recently, I’ve heard about a number of recruitment agencies offering extended rebate terms. When I say “extended”, what I mean is a 12 month guarantee or even a free replacement for those candidates who don’t work out in a role. Commercial suicide?

Yes, rebates safeguard your recruitment fee, and no, you can’t account for every eventuality with a candidate, so rebates offer peace of mind just like a probation period, however they shouldn’t really need to come into play if your recruitment process and onboarding is good enough. Perhaps, rather than finding an agency offering the longest rebate terms, you should question why an agency would offer 12 months rebate terms – desperate for business? Lack of confidence in bridging the gap between candidate and client expectations? Not the best recipe from the outset for a successful hiring experience.

“Long rebates don’t mean a skilled recruiter!”

People aren’t a product, they all have different skills, motivators, values, backgrounds, personalities, which need to be listened to, supported, understood and fulfilled with the right company, role and environment. This is why your recruiter should want to get to know you, but it’s a two-way process. You should want to know who is representing you, your company and your reputation – that is far more powerful and long lasting than a rebate. Don’t fall into the risky trap of long rebates = a great, confident and skilled recruiter.

“Recruitment is introduction only”

I’d like you to consider, a recruiter’s time and effort is invested throughout the hiring process from being engaged on the role, up to when the candidate joins the business – we only get paid when a successful hire starts their job on their first day. We are an introduction only company. The hiring process could be six months, and then a role is put on hold – all our invested time is therefore for free; not ideal. As soon as a candidate starts their new job on their first day, the hiring process is essentially handed over to their new employer, as the introduction has been formally made. These early days are when the candidate and client are at risk of things not working out and the recruitment agency has very limited control to intervene.  Here is where the recruiter is trusting the company’s onboarding process to be effective and the candidate to be welcomed and settled into the role and team.  

I totally understand having extra protection is a nice added extra, however as a recruitment expert, are rebates as important as a clear recruitment process, or an effective onboarding programme or measured communication throughout the hiring process? Absolutely not. Achieving a sale is a biproduct of doing a good job, building trust in a client relationship, listening to your client’s needs and finding the best talent. It’s not the reason to play on vulnerabilities and hoodwink them into thinking a rebate will make the recruitment process successful.

“Flying curve balls”

Now, there is an argument to say if everything was done perfectly, the recruitment process was clear for the candidates, the interviews were thorough, the onboarding was measured and monitored, the candidate’s suitability for the role wouldn’t be in question, the necessary training would be in place to support growth, and therefore the candidate won’t ever leave and whether a rebate is 12 weeks or months, it shouldn’t matter. If only it was that simple. In essence, no, it shouldn’t matter, but reality is there is always risk in everything anyone does and businesses can’t operate long term on hope or being unprepared for a flying curve ball. Risk matters and can affect everyone in business, but it’s finding a balance for both parties and investing in a plan together to minimise potential risk areas. It’s partnership.

If there isn’t depth to your conversations, the process will, more likely than not, fail.  What a waste of time, effort and money for both agency and client. Let’s not forget people talk and a disappointed/disgruntled candidate could be a large risk to your reputation. With a few tweaks, better communication and a more thorough approach, the candidate is far more likely to work out well and guess what – no rebate will be needed!

I strongly believe if you peel back the layers of a client and their business, provide an honest and thorough service, measured timelines of delivery, the rest will slot into place; it’s the same with candidates too.

“Investing time, will in turn save you time”

Don’t get me wrong, some things are completely out of your control, and sometimes rebates will be used but it shouldn’t be the reason to choose an agency. Pick a recruitment partner who is by your side throughout the ups and downs, advising, guiding, supporting, managing risk and be by their side too with open communication. Recruitment shouldn’t be a purely reactive service, if it is, you’re missing out on workforce planning with people who could help your business grow.

Invest your time in the right recruiter and it will gift you extra time in your job. Let them focus on securing you the best talent, whilst you focus on retaining the talent. Now that’s a partnership.

This leads me back to my original statement: rebates shouldn’t be the primary focus for choosing a recruitment agency.

By Natasha Gething - Senior Consultant | Sales & Marketing

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