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When To Use a Recruitment Agency (And When to do it Yourself!)

Using a recruitment agency is expensive. Average recruitment agency fees were $22,113 last year and, although they appear to be stabilizing, have the potential to increase further as companies struggle to hire.

That being said, there are times when using a recruitment agency is crucial to finding a qualified candidate. Be a strategic advisor to your organization by knowing when to use a recruitment agency, and when to do it yourself.

4 times you should use a recruitment agency:


  1. When you need to hire quickly: You should use a recruitment agency if you’re recruiting for a high priority job that is critical to company success. This could include anything from backfilling a position that has been recently vacated, to a new position that is created for an upcoming product launch.

    When time is not on your side, a recruitment agency can help you find candidates faster than you could on your own. Agencies help you cast a wider net, and provide pre-screened candidates that can move through your recruitment process faster. They can also manage candidate expectations and pre-close your candidates to reduce the chances of candidates dropping out of the process, so you don’t have to start your search over from square one.

  2. When you have a hard-to-fill position: Great talent is hard to come by – but some positions are just more difficult to fill than others. This includes certain industries and job functions that have a more severe talent shortage than others, as well as senior leadership positions and jobs in undesirable locations.

    Again, a recruitment agency helps you cast a wider net to find candidates that you may not have found on your own. Specialist agencies, in particular, may already have candidates in their database that match your search criteria. When you have a hard-to-fill position, you should be exploring all avenues at your disposal to fill it.

  3. When you have a specialized position: Specialist recruitment agencies are probably your best bet when you’re looking for highly skilled or specialized candidates. Again, they may already have qualified candidates in their database, ready for you to interview right away. They may also understand the job requirements in more detail than your in-house recruiter, or even your hiring manager, does – so they can source and screen additional qualified candidates quickly.
  4. When you have a stealth search: You may need to run a stealth search if you don’t want your competitors, the press, or the person currently in the role to know you’re recruiting. This is usually the case for executive positions, or positions for a new stealth-mode product. A recruitment agency can help you find and screen candidates before revealing your company to them, perhaps also having them sign an NDA before they speak with you.

When to forgo a recruitment agency and do it yourself:


The above aren’t necessarily hard and fast rules for using a recruitment agency, but are rather common scenarios in which they are used. The most common reason organizations use a recruitment agency is to fill positions quickly, usually in conjunction with one of the other reasons.

If time is not an issue, organizations can look for candidates at their own pace and don’t need the unnecessary expense of recruitment agency fees. Similarly, positions that are not difficult to fill – particularly unskilled or entry-level positions – would not need to employ the help of a recruitment agency.

Finally, stealth searches do not require the help of a recruitment agency – but using one will minimize the chances that information will leak.

In short, forgo a recruitment agency and do it yourself if it’s a routine candidate search. Use a recruitment agency for your most critical positions where time is of the essence.


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