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Why recruiting agencies are more useful than you think

Disclaimer: Before we go any further, let’s make clear that we don’t consider ourselves to be agency recruiters here at LevelUp…at least not in the traditional sense. Think of us more like recruitment process outsourcing or even as consultants. We could be an agency, but we just dont feel like it.

Certainly aspects of what we do fit into the need for agency recruiters outlined in this article. But it’s the ethics, process and approach that we adopt, that differentiates us. We are startup focused, disruptive and turning startups into hiring machines one step at a time


The agency recruiter. The mere thought to most people induces shudders and visions of a smiling, LinkedIn loving individual.

And it’s true. Most traditional agency recruiters are sales driven people who value their hiring fee & commission more than someone’s career trajectory. In the traditional recruiting model, maximising revenue is a primary objective around which all other considerations must orbit.

So can recruiting agencies be useful?

Of course they can. It’s important to remember that recruiting agencies exist for a distinct reason: to cover the gaps that an in-house recruiter could not fill.

Recruiting agencies can save you plenty of time by sourcing and shortlisting candidates for open jobs. Likewise, many agents will handle the tricky early phases of a recruiting pipelines such as CV & phone screening.

This isn’t to say that a recruiting agency could replace internal recruiting efforts, but rather to highlight that they can more efficiently cover early stages of the recruiting pipeline due to economies of scale, workflow, expertise and network.

To summarise, a few of the key areas in which an agency would be particularly useful:

Specialised & executive roles:

An internal recruiter has vision over the company’s talent needs, but may not necessarily have the specialised knowledge for certain roles. This necessary process of learning could cost the company more in terms of time and money than simply hiring a recruiting agency. The agency guarantees knowledge of specific skills across the board, specialist sourcing methodologies and niche job boards.

Short term needs:

Sometimes the talent need is so urgent that a recruiting agency becomes the most time & cost viable solution. Agencies have an in-built network of talent and can fill vacancies fast, should this be required.

Fill a pipeline:

An internal hiring manager may have their finger on the pulse of a company’s hiring needs, but they still rely on a full pipeline of talent to make their decisions. An agency can be a great partner to help in this process, helping internal recruiters to make more informed decisions.

Agents are partners, not foes

And here comes the important part: addressing your talent needs isn’t a case of in-house versus agency. In many cases, both an agency and an internal recruiter can provide complementary skillsets.

It is important to recognise which parts of your talent needs are best satisfied by each party, in terms of time and cost. It is important to map out your future hiring needs and figure out what works best. And remember, many agencies understand startup culture as well as in-house!

Just to recap, here are a few things to consider when choosing an agency or in-house for a particular need:

  • Network: Who can provide easy access to the network needed for a role? Is this network general or specific?
  • Expertise: What specific knowledge is required? Is prior experience in a sector beneficial to hiring?
  • Culture: Is this a short term hire or a longer term prospect? Is knowledge of the team culture important?
  • Money: Does the hiring need justify a long term sunk cost? Or is a short term one-off fee more appropriate?
  • Goals: Is the company desire to setup future hiring processes? Does internal HR make sense? What is the growth plan for the team?

Find balance

All things considered, analytics are key. It is important to measure your ‘good’ hires and work out why those were successful.

From that data you can find a balance between filling your talent needs with agency recruiters and in-house recruiters. Finding the optimal hiring partner for your company may take time, but it’s worth investing the time in getting it right in order to build a team for growth.

And that’s why we feel different in what we’re doing at LevelUp Ventures. A lot of the value we add to startups crosses the line between in house and agency recruiters. We just don’t feel like either.

Our mission is to address these talent needs with startup friendly, innovative and creative solutions. We believe startups are the best places to work, and we’re driven by the prospect of making our clients happy. No cold emails, no sales commission and certainly no suits here!