Hiring in the new normal – alternatives to recruitment agencies

Amidst this climate, many in-house recruitment teams are thinking about alternative ways of hiring the best talent in the 2021 employment landscape.

Some businesses are in genuine growth in sectors that haven’t been especially positively or negatively impacted by the pandemic or have boomed as a direct result of the pandemic.

Other businesses are on the obverse side of the coin, such as hospitality-based businesses. Many such businesses have retained only a skeleton staff during the lockdowns. They made redundancies that felt necessary at the time when the original furlough scheme started tapering off last autumn. Now they now need to recruit quickly and cost-effectively in order to get into shape for the imminent arrival of the ‘new normal.

However, people are sadly losing their jobs in multiple sectors. And the likelihood is that many more will do so judging by the talk of forthcoming post-furlough cliff edges and recessions.

This current recruitment landscape is a very uncertain and unstable one.

In terms of those businesses that are recruiting right now many of them are still using the same manual recruitment marketing systems, they used pre-Covid. These can be labour intensive, with each touchpoint throughout the process taking in-house teams longer to achieve less. It’s so wasteful of resources during such an important period for businesses.

In addition to wasting time and money, the drawn-out and lumbering nature of manual recruitment risks the disengagement of the best talent along the way.

Throw in the volume challenge of potentially upwards of 200%+ more applications per job vacancy. It’s no wonder that outsourced help from recruitment agencies might seem appealing because manual processes that were challenging pre-Covid simply aren’t cutting it since recruitment went remote.

The key service propositions recruitment agencies offer stretched in-house teams are –

  • Attracting and sourcing.
  • Screening and shortlisting.

In this article, we’re going to compare and contrast the pros and cons of using recruitment marketing agencies with a state-of-the-art Applicant Tracking System, a technologically advanced in-house alternative to outsourcing.

Attracting and Sourcing – With Recruitment agencies

It’s very tempting for recruitment teams who are short on time, budget, or both to turn recruitment agencies to advertise job vacancies and receive initial applications on their behalf.

It might feel like half your battle won. But it isn’t, because you still have to provide the job specs, company details, salary scales, and all other relevant information for recruitment agencies to work with, in the first place.

And when it comes to marketing your job ads, bear in mind that the candidate databases and job boards most recruitment agencies use are very similar or the same.

So, it often makes no difference whether you use just one recruitment agency or you give several of them the opportunity to compete for the prize of the ‘finder’s fee’.

They’re often dredging the same limited talent pool.

With An Applicant Tracking System

You can really take control of your own job ads with an Applicant Tracking System. It’s even capable of telling you which job boards are performing best for particular job vacancy types, e.g. sales, operations admin, saving you money on scattergun advertising spend.

But the real piece de resistance is an attractive dynamic careers site linked to your Applicant Tracking System. You’re on your way to attracting the best talent around when your careers page markets your business as a highly desirable employer. And, even better still, when it’s easy and straightforward for candidates to use.

Complex application processes can be off-putting to potential candidates, so it doesn’t bode well if you’re scaring off great talent from the onset. Therefore, the removal of candidate pre-registration makes the application process easy and hassle-free.

Besides being user-friendly for candidates, an Applicant Tracking System supports the growth of your talent pool. You can use increasingly popular recruitment tools like social media and QR codes to draw applicants directly to your careers site, building an enviable talent pool for your current and future vacancies.

Key Differences

Using recruitment agencies for advertising job vacancies may save you some time and money initially. However, the money you save on job board advertising might be no saving at all, or even a loss, taking into consideration the 15-20% commission cut for successful staff placements.

In addition, you relinquish control over your branding when using recruitment agencies. Whereas having your own careers site linked to an Applicant Tracking System empowers you to market your visions, values, and employer value propositions to a highly engaged new and existing talent pool. 

The end result is a constantly evolving talent pool that isn’t constrained by the limitations of the job boards recruitment agencies all use.

Screening & Shortlisting Applicants – With Recruitment agencies 

If you were used to manually sifting through CVs pre-Covid, you can imagine that what was a slog then is a near impossibility now due to the dramatic increase in the volume of applications for most vacancies.

Recruitment agencies can help lift this volume burden off your shoulders, relieving you of time to spend in other areas of the business. They want to get your vacancy filled as quickly as you do, albeit for different reasons.

It’s the priority of recruitment agencies to be first past the post to ensure their competitors don’t beat them to a successful placement and a commission pot. That’s why it’s the norm for recruitment agencies to present a minimal number of candidates for your consideration.

Great if it works the first time. If it doesn’t, you’re back to ground zero.

With an Applicant Tracking System

A leading Applicant Tracking System will do the CV parsing for you, based on the professional and personal criteria you specify.

In addition to CV parsing, it provides you with hundreds of customisable minimum criteria “killer” questions and skills/behaviour based assessments for quick and simple screening as standard, without any additional cost implications.  

Advanced tests are also readily available to help you reject or progress candidates automatically, depending on how they score against the pre-determined pass rates you set for situation judgment testing (SJT’s) and psychometric testing.

Key Differences

Is it fair to say you’re never completely convinced recruitment agencies are presenting you with the best possible range of befitting talent on the market?

It’s a perfectly natural feeling when you aren’t party to the bigger picture and don’t have a clear concise snapshot of the candidates applying for your vacancies.

Worst ways this lack of overview can be a hiding to nothing for both parties if recruitment agencies don’t present you with any candidates you’re interested in shortlisting.

This dilemma is easily averted with an Applicant Tracking System that makes it really simple to identify the strongest candidates to progress to the next stage of the process.

You’re left in no doubt of uncovering the best professional talent, harnessing the power of AI to match them with your values for a cultural fit, in super quick time. This is enhanced by the ability to attack the passive candidates already in your exciting talent pool.

Recruitment Agencies Vs Applicant Tracking System Round-Up

Driving towards a more in-house recruitment marketing team, just like new talent acquisition, should be an exciting time in your company’s evolution.

Any past experience, good or bad, of using recruitment agencies will influence your decision to use them again in the future or not. But ask yourself this – 

Is the outsourcing of key touch-points of your recruitment process really resulting in professional and cultural hires that tick all the boxes?

And ultimately

When hiring on a regular basis, is the vast expense of commission payable to recruitment agencies worth sacrificing your overview and control of the talent applying for your vacancies?

Being in complete cohesive control of your recruitment process has myriad meaningful benefits to your business in the immediacy and going into the future.

By using an Applicant Tracking System instead of recruitment agencies you’re literally investing in the future of your business by building a talent pool that increases over time. This eradicates the

  • Need to go through the same outsourced recruitment process from scratch with recruitment agencies every time you need to hire.
  • Loss of control over the way your branding is used during the recruitment process.
  • Lack of say about where your vacancies are publicised.
  • Minimised overview of all the candidates applying for your vacancies.

And very importantly

  • Knowledge of and control over the candidate journey, bearing in mind that success-hungry recruitment agencies aren’t all going to be as protective of your employer branding as you are.


Are these risks really worth taking for the short-term time and money-saving benefits you get on a case-by-case basis with recruitment agencies, but with nothing to show cumulatively?

Here at HireRoad, we’re committed to providing businesses just like yours with the time and money-saving recruitment marketing solutions you need to find and hire the best talent amidst a turbulent marketplace.

Our best-in-class Applicant Tracking System is the evolving product at the heart of our business – and our clients’ businesses – since 2008. We’d love to offer you the opportunity to take control over your own hires, helping you amass a thriving talent pool of candidates that are attuned to your company culture. And furthermore, this irresistible opportunity will save you time and money, too.