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Ask Lawrence: So, do you believe the cost of recruitment is just the 'job ad'​?

06 Feb 17:00 By Lawrence Akers

Lawrence Akers asks whether you know that the cost of recruitment is more than just the price of the job ad?

There is often a perception in the creative industry that the ‘cost’ to hire someone is the cost of the job board ad.  This is obviously incorrect.

You can imagine my surprise when I was doing a check in with a client the other day and was told that they get their freelancers through Indeed.  Now, I’ve worked with this particular client in the past and I know that their needs are infrequent and ad hoc at best, and even this client admitted that, so I had to ask why they would do such a time consuming hiring strategy as Indeed.  ‘It’s worked for us’, she said. Perhaps it has up until now. If you’re looking for someone within the next few days and you don’t have the time to worry about writing job ads and checking out the response though, this feels like a really complex way to get that resource met.

When it comes to recruitment costs, the job ad might’ve cost you a couple of hundred but that is only just the beginning of what it costs.

For a start, from the moment that the job exists, a job ad will need to be written and posted, and someone will have to go through the applications and determine who is suitable and who is not.  We’re working on the assumption here that this person will know what they’re looking for however it isn’t uncommon to find hiring managers who aren’t 100% sure of how to qualify if they’re looking at the right person or not.  

This is especially true when you’re talking about creativity which has aspects of both technical skill and conceptual skill to consider.  While any job is going to have criteria by which you can determine if someone is successful or not, when it comes to conceptual ideation, strategy and design language, having someone who knows what they’re looking at actually becomes valuable and time saving.  It’s about having that shared language that makes it easier to get everyone on the same page.

If the person knows exactly what they’re looking for, then they can hopefully cut down the amount of time and stress required significantly, although not entirely.  They’ll still need to work through the applications, get in touch with the ones who might be worth meeting, meet with them, determine if they’re a right fit creatively, technically and culturally, potentially reference check them, offer the successful person the opportunity, and then after all of that, hope that they accept the offer and turn up on the first day.

After that, the hope is that they’re actually as good as what you believe they are.  If they’re not, then you have an even more stressed and frustrating scramble back through applications (or worse, starting from scratch), hoping to backfill the role before the workload becomes even more unbearable or someone from above ‘loses it’.  I’m looking at you, Karen. She’s always losing it.

Keep in mind that if they turn up and do a crap job, you’re still legally required to pay them.  Being realistic, the reason why they’ve done a crap job could also partially be your fault because the brief might’ve been so vague and loose that they were bound to fail before they even really started.  This just adds insult to injury when you have no recourse.

So, what’s this cost so far?  You’ve got the initial cost of the ad, then the cost of the salary of someone on site to work through the applications, and if that isn’t actually their usual job then there is an additional cost of taking them away from what they’re supposed to do.  Then, if you’re lucky, there isn’t the cost of a potential bad hire, which results in a cost that is greater than just financial when you consider the time and potential impact on company culture.

The fact is that if you’re going to get a freelancer in, you’re going to have to pay something.  If you’re going to pay, doesn’t it make good business sense to do it through an agency that is going to have done all of that hard work for you?  You phone and tell them what it is you need. Their expertise means that they’ll ask questions to help flesh out what the requirement truly is. They provide you with tried and tested options quickly that can achieve what you need.  They have the professional creative turn up and do the work and then they send you a tax deductible invoice each week to keep it simple and straight-forward.

They also ensure that you’re engaging people in the most legislatively compliant way because workplace legislation can often be complex, change frequently, and you’re already trying to get your work done without having to worry about that.

The real cost of recruitment is more than the cost of that job ad.  It’s the time and energy that someone has to spend in getting the requirement right, managing the job ad, dealing with the people who’ll phone asking for more details, chasing up people who might be right (and who are also most likely dealing with three other offers at the same time) and hoping that you can get it all done within a reasonable time frame.  That sounds like a lot of stress to me personally. As I said before, if you’re getting a freelancer, you’re already paying someone so why not do it in a way that makes it easier for you while still getting the best available talent out there?