The recruitment industry has a growing number of associations and networking groups; all have their mission statements on what they do for their members and the wider industry. Some will help influence legislation affecting the industry, some will provide training and support for directors and staff, and some will facilitate networking between agency members.
Since TBOS started back in 2009, we have been members of a number of recruitment associations as Service Providers to the members. As Service Providers, we attended many meetings and conferences, engaged with the members and provided content for their websites and social media accounts. We have also been involved in meetings with some of the other groups to see what the benefits are to us, but also to the members who join.
Before an agency decides to join an association, they should ask themselves (and the association) the following questions:-
DOES THE COST OUTWEIGH THE REWARDS?
Whilst each association does have its individual benefits, there is a cost that has to be borne by the agency to be a member. This will often be a joining fee, plus an annual membership fee which can range from £1,000 upwards, which as a cost to your business may seem small but if you do not make the most of the membership, then you could be throwing away this money.
WHAT ARE THE MEETINGS LIKE?
The biggest benefit an agency can get is attending the meetings held, as often this will be where you meet other recruitment agencies, industry suppliers and keynote speakers offering help and support. However, you need to understand what the meeting structure is, where they are and if you are eligible to attend all meetings. If you are offered a chance to attend a meeting before joining then this is advisable so you can get a flavour of the format and the people who are members.
WHAT IS THE MOTIVATION OF THE ASSOCIATION TO EXIST?
Understanding what the association stands for and why the directors have set it up can help you to decide if they have the same values as your business and what the benefits are in the long term. Sometimes it can be very apparent that the members are just a cash cow for the association, whilst some will be about growing and developing the members to help the industry.
DO YOU GET DISCOUNTS FROM SUPPLIERS?
One of the big draws for many recruitment agencies is the fact that most industry service providers offer discounts to members. Some of these discounts on job-boards and CRM systems can amount to as much as the membership fees, which can make it very worthwhile. However, you may want to check if these discounts are exclusive to the association as sometimes you can get these prices without being a member.
WHAT ADDITIONAL SUPPORT WILL THEY PROVIDE?
Many of the associations will have additional support functions available for their members such as legal and HR helplines, document libraries (which include up to date contract templates) and links to international associations. Some also provide training support for directors and staff to help grow and develop their agency members.
WHO ARE THE OTHER MEMBERS?
It is always best to understand the size and industry that the membership makes up to know whether the association can help you fully. If all the clients are £10m+ turnover agencies and you are a new start-up, or if you are an international business and the members only do UK placements, then you may not get the benefits from the association or the help from the members.
WHAT DOES THEIR WEBSITE AND SOCIAL MEDIA TELL YOU?
Looking at an associations website and social media can tell you a lot about how they interact with their members and also the industry. If the website is uninviting, hard to navigate and looks like it hasn’t been updated in 10 years, then it would potentially struggle to attract new members and suggests it may not be keeping up with the latest technology. If the social media is very opinionated and controversial, then will this reflect on you if you are a member of that association.
Joining an association is not a necessity within the recruitment industry, and there are certainly pros and cons between each of the ones available. As long as the agency director can justify a benefit to themselves and their agency, then it is worthwhile being a member, but if many of the benefits can be achieved without being signed up, then this is also an alternative.
Currently, TBOS is not affiliated with any recruitment association but does keep in touch with them to understand how the industry is managing in these uncertain times and help any of their members if required. TBOS provides its clients with ongoing help and support as part of our TBOS Community program. Please contact our office if you would like further information on how we can help your agency.