There are many ways to attract new talent to your business today from simple to complex, passive to active, and free to paid strategies. For retailers and restaurants, it can be as simple as stating “we’re hiring!” on their marquee. Others will take advantage of their websites by maintaining a constant list of available opportunities. On the other side of the spectrum are businesses that rely on the support of a job board or recruitment firm.

While each method has its merits, the real measure is the effectiveness related to your business needs and goals. For organizations with targeted growth goals, a passive approach of waiting for candidates to apply is no longer enough.

Among the active approaches to sourcing and recruiting new talent, the most common and perhaps most debated options are between a job board or a recruitment firm. Which is the better option for your organization?

If you have (or still are) wrestling with this decision, you already know the answer isn’t always easy and direct. Obviously, there is one clear choice from our perspective. However, we also believe in being transparent partners with our current and prospective clients. So keep reading for honest answers to the most common questions organizations have when deciding between using a job board or recruitment firm for their hiring needs.

What are the Pros and Cons of Using a Job Board?

Perhaps the biggest advantage in using a job board is that it provides your business with a constant online presence to a very large audience. Whether it be LinkedIn, Indeed, or Zip Recruiter, potential candidates are going to see your company name and that you are growing. It is a 24/7 marketing presence for your brand. Some organizations also like the hands-off approach to sourcing and recruiting candidates where they don’t need to be involved until an application crosses their inbox.

The downside to your ongoing visibility is that there is no control over who applies for the posted positions. Further, the screening questions on quick apply methods are often easily manipulated or “fluffed” by candidates to include anticipated keyword identifiers you may be looking for.

Another limiting factor is that you are only getting active candidates who are looking for a change. This means either waiting for a quality candidate to have a bad day and see what’s out there, or attracting someone who job hops and therefore is always monitoring job board postings.

What are the Pros and Cons of Using a Recruitment Firm?

Recruitment firms offer the advantage of having a resource with an active role in shaping and guiding your company’s strategic direction and talent strategy. From a business perspective, recruitment firms can provide an analysis of the marketplace. They understand the company’s presence compared to their competitors, provide information on current employment trends, and offer competitive insight on working conditions, compensation, and employee benefits.

Knowing what you are looking for, the use of a recruitment firm results in faster outcomes and higher quality candidates. Since recruitment firms take a proactive approach to sourcing, recruiting, and hiring candidates, this means client companies aren’t waiting for candidates to respond. Rather, they are earnestly looking for top performers whether they are seriously pursuing a career change or who aren’t contemplating a new position — at least not yet. Recruiters become brand advocates who use your value proposition to inform candidates of the career advantages your organization has to offer.

The downside to recruitment firms is they are typically more expensive than job boards on a per hire basis, but not always as we explain below. However, the risk-to-reward value lies in the quality of candidates.

How Much Involvement is Required When Using a Job Board or Recruitment Firm?

First of all, you should understand that neither option will completely handle all aspects of your hiring process. The difference is when and to what extent you are involved. When using a job board there is only a very small percentage of the process that you are gaining assistance with — actually recruiting candidates.

Job boards only provide the mechanism for sharing your opening and the ability to filter applications based on set criteria. You will need someone to appropriately portray your opportunity and company in the right way, to the right candidates. Then someone on your team will need to review, screen, and interview the applications, all before you begin to sell the right candidate(s) on your opportunity for them. This also means you will need to have your own internal hiring process.

When you work with a recruitment firm, expect more upfront involvement to make sure your recruiting partners understand everything they need to represent your position and company in the best possible light. Once this groundwork is complete, recruitment firms handle sourcing top talent, recruiting them to consider the opportunity and apply, and evaluating candidates with initial phone screens. In many cases, they will handle the first in-person interviews as well. You only step back into the process for later interviews and a final hiring decision.

How Could Either Hold You Back from Sourcing, Recruiting, and Hiring the Best Possible Talent?

As good as any resource is, there are always potential pitfalls to be aware of, and using a job board or recruitment firm is no different.

The largest mistake companies make when using a job board is not getting their job post right. If the post is written too broadly, encapsulating too few qualifications, you will attract more candidates without the needed level of skills and experience. Yet if your job post is too narrow in scope, candidates may limit themselves from applying leaving you with an incredibly shallow talent pool.

The length of your post could also be problematic. Too long and prospective candidates may not bother to read it or simply skim over it missing important details. Leaving it too short, may leave candidates with unanswered questions about the role or your credibility. And even if you need to hire quickly, coming across as desperate is always harmful to your brand and reputation. Writing the ideal job post on a job board takes experience and a good amount of testing to get right.

With recruitment firms, the hazards to avoid center around finding the right agency to work with. The biggest red flag warning is when a recruitment firm fails to take the time to learn about you as a hiring company and what your perfect-fit hire looks like. Don’t settle for a firm that is content with blanket job descriptions or that doesn’t understand your company vision.

The other common mistake hiring companies make is choosing a recruitment firm based on price alone. Take the time to learn the value proposition of a potential recruiting solution, and what they can offer you. Look for a partner who will source candidates that see you as a career destination. A real partner will never fill a seat with the first person they find simply to collect a payday.

What are the Financial Impacts of Each Option?

There are three areas to consider for the financial impacts of using a job board or a recruitment firm: the initial cost, the long-term expenses, and your return on investment (ROI).

Initial costs of job boards and recruitment firms

While you may think the prices of job boards would be far less than using a recruitment firm, that isn’t always the case. Some platforms may allow you to post openings for free, but then charge per month, per resume download, and/or per application. Others offer pretty robust plans with multiple postings on multiple sites with ample user seats for a full team that make recruitment firms look like a discounted bargain. With pricing that varies so widely, it is important to do your homework and to select a plan based on the number of openings you have, your timeline to fill the openings, and the size of your team involved in the hiring process.

Recruitment firms can also vary in price, but generally offer one of three pricing models: retainer, contingency, or per hour. Retainer and contingency fee models have typically been the most common. Both models are based on a percentage of a new hire’s first-year salary. The difference is that with a retainer a portion of this fee is paid at the start of the search process and the balance when a hire is made. With a contingency model, all fees are paid when the hire is made and therefore the most common pricing structure.

The third model, and how AEBetancourt is structured, is with a flat hourly rate. This means hiring companies pay for the services dedicated to them throughout the hiring process without additional fees tacked on at the end.

Long-term expenses

At the most basic level, it is easy to understand that the longer you use a job board or recruitment firm, the more expenses you will incur. So the essential part to consider is the value you are getting from each option. Regardless of the option, that value should be determined in the level of service provided, the quality of applicants you receive, and the length of time it takes to make each hire.

While you can tightly manage your monthly costs with a job board, you may need to limit the services and features of the platform to do so. Conversely, paying twenty to thirty percent of each hire’s total compensation under a retainer or contingency pricing model can get expensive very fast if you need to make multiple hires as each is billed separately.

These are important reasons why our model offers a flat hourly rate. AEBetancourt’s model provides consistent quality service throughout the process, allows you to make multiple hires without additional costs, delivers your complete candidate list for future hiring purposes, and allows clients to use us at any time for the same price.

Job board and recruitment firm return on investment

A job board is just that. A place to post your openings and collect applications. So your return needs to be measured against your reach and brand recognition in your desired geographic area, the quality of candidates applying, and the time invested by your team.

Recruiting firms offer much more than simply posting openings and collecting resumes. They are talent acquisition experts, brand ambassadors, and talent development consultants. The right recruiting firm will be an extension of your team that fully understands your value proposition and the mission of your company.

Which Option Offers Better Results?

Someone looking out for your best interests is always going to provide better results than waiting alone for the right thing to hit. Recruitment firms provide a dedicated, targeted approach to understanding the position and your company. This means that for most organizations with more than ten employees, using a recruitment firm will offer a better solution for your hiring needs than a job board will.

However, there is always that chance that you’ll craft the perfect job posting and catch the perfect candidate at a bad time who decides today is the day they begin looking for a new career opportunity. And your post just could be the one they discover.

Deciding Between a Job Board and a Recruitment Firm

There is no absolute right or wrong answer to this question for every company. Your decision factors on how each service fits the overall goal, budget, and strategy for your hiring needs. If you are going to use a recruiting firm, take the time to learn about them and what they can offer you. Do they see you as a payday or are you actually on the same side of the table as them?

The same determining criteria (goals, budget, and strategy) applies to using a job board. Take the time to write out a posting that is going to attract the ideal candidate pool you are looking for. Then manage your expectations and understand that you are only attracting active candidates because the right person for the job may be at your competitor and simply isn’t looking.

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