Have you been considering your options when it comes to hiring an administrative professional?
Where do you find the best candidates? Should you run the hiring process internally, or find an agency to do the job for you?
The latter option allows you to leverage the resources of an agency that hires all the time and has systems and processes in place. In many cases, internal hiring isn’t something that happens often. It’s a time-consuming and costly exercise and sometimes even then, you don’t find a good fit.
Many businesses have questions about this. Is it worth using an agency? What exactly am I paying for? Here’s the scoop:
What are you paying for from an agency?
Ultimately, you’re paying to get results. You’re hoping to get the perfect-fit administrative professional who will stay with your company long-term and keep your operations whipped into shape. So, one aspect you are paying for is the expertise of the agency - their ability to find and hire good candidates.
There are a few components that go into the agency task, and yes, you’re paying for these too! Here’s what typically goes into finding you the best administrative professional:
- Sourcing. This covers the various activities that an agency will go through to find a list of good candidates. Talent sourcing is the starting point for the recruitment process. In some cases, the agency might already have some great candidates on their books whom they’ve sourced previously, but most of the time, they’ll still need to find people.
This can be a labor-intensive and expensive process. Good agencies will have advertising in place to find talent with the aim of drawing people to them. The best agencies go beyond that and scour for candidates that aren’t necessarily current applicants. For example, sourcing might include laborious searches of online profiles, or making “cold” phone calls to approach top talent. It takes time and resources.
- Assessment of talent. Once the agency has received applications or sourced talent through other means, there’s an assessment process to put candidates through. Any agency worth their salt will spend a fair bit of time on this, assessing for both hard and soft skills. Again, this can be a time-consuming and costly process.
- Engagement of talent. The agency needs to spend time engaging with candidates, “selling” the job to them and keeping them interested. Sometimes the agency is the employer of the AP and contracts the AP to their clients, or sometimes the agency recruits the AP who becomes an employee of the client. In the first instance, the agency is responsible for maintaining engagement with the AP, as their employer. The client (of course!) has a role in keeping them engaged on-the-job.
- Retention of talent. When you go through all the time and expense of recruitment, it’s important to be able to retain the talent that you find! Agencies are responsible for retaining the APs on their books and keeping up communication with them. They’re the representative of the AP to the client.
How do agencies differ from one another?
Agencies often differ in terms of their approach to sourcing candidates and the tasks they perform for recruitment and retention. One major point of difference can be the interview process, so it’s important to know what you’re getting!
Some agencies overly focus on hard skills during the interview - can the person set up calendars and emails, or run a project management software? However, soft skills are critical in an administrative professional and should be a big part of the interviewing.
At Worxbee, we really dig into the nitty-gritty of soft skills when we interview candidates. For example, is the candidate intuitive? Do they have the ability to sense or understand on a granular level what people need? Are they proactive? Do they look for any issues before they become a problem? Are they suited to working at a C-Suite level? Not everyone can operate at the level expected by executives and sometimes the C-Suite is really not their ideal work environment.
What should you look for in an agency?
If you’ve decided that you’d like to find an agency to handle the recruitment process, what should you look for when choosing one?
The first and most important step is to find someone who completely understands the role. When we’re talking about administrative professionals, many agencies don’t necessarily specialize in recruiting APs. This doesn’t always add up to a great experience for the client or the candidates.
The agency must be able to clearly communicate the requirements of the role to their candidates. If they don’t have a good grasp of the role, how will they know they’ve found the right person to fill it? How will their candidates understand if the role is really for them? The administrative professional role is highly specialized - you can’t just take anyone with administrative skills and thrust them into the role - you need someone with executive-level experience.
Bottom line? Find an agency that specializes in the type of specific talent you require.
Are there other factors to look for in a recruitment agency? Sure! Here are some key thoughts:
- Look at agency reviews. How professional are they? Who is recommending them? Have they served other companies with similar needs well? Look at reviews from both the clients’ AND candidates’ perspectives. An agency is often the first impression a candidate gets of you and your company, so you want it to be a good one!
- Look for an agency that understands your business needs. There are different types of administrative professionals who are suited to different situations. The agency should make an effort to understand your business needs so they can ensure they’re only forwarding candidates who will be a great match. They should be a true partner in helping you to meet your needs.
- The agency should be open to feedback and always striving to be better. They should meet with you to clarify your needs and should seek feedback after the hiring process.
- The agency should be excellent communicators! Much like you’d expect from your new administrative professional, the agency representatives should be skilled in keeping you informed and ensuring that everyone is on the same page. You should always know where the process stands and shouldn't have to chase anyone for information.
- Look for people who genuinely listen! The hiring process is important and the agency should clearly understand what you want and don’t want. They should never pressure you into a quick decision on a long-term hire.
- They know your industry. This can be an important factor for understanding the types of skills a new AP should have.
- They follow a clear process. They should have a repeatable, step-by-step process. You don’t want great candidates to be missed or important steps brushed over.
- They’re known for their ethics and quality. The agency should never present candidates that don’t have the skills or experience shown on their resume. The agency should only deliver the best candidates and should strictly vet to make sure people have the experience they say they do.
Hiring an administrative professional through an agency might seem like a big expense, but it’s important to consider all the things you are paying for when you work with an agency.
Tasks like sourcing, talent assessment, and recruitment are time-consuming and costly, even if done internally. Agencies often have more specialized resources they can put to work, which save you time, effort, and expense.
Finally, you’re paying for an agency that understands the role you are hiring for and what your specific needs are. This partnership can be invaluable in producing the best candidates for your business.
Worxbee sources and recruits the best administrative professionals, pairing them with the right businesses. Talk to us today about how we can help you.