Q&A with Mat Roche: The Importance of Refreshing your PSL

As we know, the recruitment market is incredibly competitive. As a result, one of the biggest challenges for businesses is to maintain their PSL ensuring that their suppliers are modern agencies, who understand their business needs and candidate requirements.  

I caught up with Co-Founder of Third Republic, Mat Roche, to hear his views the importance of an up-to-date PSL. He reveals why it’s crucial for companies to be constantly refreshing and analysing their recruitment agency lists, as a means of ensuring the agencies they work with are providing them with the best access to top talent.

Third Republic (TR): Mat, do you honestly think it’s in a companies’ best interests to regularly update their agency PSL?

Mat Roche (MR) : 100%. In fact, I believe companies should be refreshing annually, or even as often as every 6 months. If I was Head of Talent Acquisition for a large corporate or SME, I would rotate agencies on my PSL all the time. Promoting, relegating and championing the most valuable.  

TR: Why do you think it’s so important for companies to refresh their PSL?

MR : There are 2 main reasons 

Firstly, recruitment agencies are volatile organisations. Good recruiters often change roles internally or swap agencies. Every time this happens, the existing relationship and IP is lost and agency performance drops. 

The second and most important reason is because the recruitment industry is changing. Candidates are behaving very differently these days compared to a few years ago, primarily driven by general changes in consumer behaviours centred around speed, convenience and the need to critique. These changes in consumer behaviours are increasingly altering the ways in which people manage their careers and look for work

The issue with recruitment agencies is that they are slow to adapt. Most agencies today are still operating in the same way they did 10 years ago sourcing talent in a very transactional way which explains why the agency market is filled with old school recruiters using out-of-date methods.   Therefore, it’s fair to assume that PSLs are littered with these old school agencies who are becoming less and less productive.

If a company needs to outsource vacancies to external agencies, what is their ultimate goal? Surely, it’s to recruit the very best available talent. Therefore, in-house recruitment teams should be looking to flush out old school, traditional recruiters and replace them with modern, forward-thinking agencies that are moving with the times and who can give them access to new pools of better-quality talent.  Hence the need to refresh an agency PSL regularly.

TR: You clearly believe that the recruitment market is changing, but how do you know this is actually happening?  

MR: I have worked through three distinct eras of recruiting each of which defined how recruiters sourced talent:

The first era – The Analogue Age: began in the 80’s and 90’s, required recruiters to be highly skilled in head-hunting, creating and managing their own networks and building strong relationships. There was no access to technology, to automate or drive efficiencies. Being a recruiter was a highly skilled job back then.

The second era – The Spray and Pray Age: the advent of the internet and email in the late 90’s brought out the worst in recruiters. Relationship building fell by the wayside as a focus on transactional methods, short term thinking, and mass email distribution became the norm. The skill left the industry.

The third era – The Digital Age: fortunately, we are now moving into a renaissance for the recruitment profession. Changes in candidate behaviours has sparked a change in how recruiters need to operate. The classic techniques of the past are making a comeback, albeit in a more modern way. Head hunting is the number 1 way to engage candidates today. Phone calls are back as mobile numbers are becoming the new emails. Talent pooling done digitally enables us to build our own networks, or “communities” as we say today.   

These are just my personal views, you can take them or leave them. It’s the views of our clients that we should really be listening to. Through our #TalentQA blog we get to speak to talent acquisition leaders on a weekly basis, asking them their opinions on the recruitment industry. Every single talent acquisition leader that we speak to about the trends in recruitment categorically states that they feel recruitment is changing.    

TR: You’ve discussed some compelling reasons “why” companies should refresh their PSL frequently, so why is it then that many companies don’t do this?

MR: Awareness. Some internal recruitment teams are led by old school recruiters who aren’t aware that they need to move with the times. This lack of market awareness means they don’t recognise that their PSL needs updating. 

More commonly, in-house recruitment teams might be aware that the market is changing and their PSL needs updating, but they have the belief that there aren’t many forward-thinking agencies out there. However, these modern agencies do exist.

I might sound biased but look at SourceChain, a group of agencies who are innovating in many different ways, adapting to market change with improved methods for sourcing talent, and digital transformation with our online platform.  

The issue for in-house teams when managing a PSL, is that it’s very difficult to identify these forward-thinking agencies because people are so desensitised by the same very old messages that they receive every day by the majority of the market. As a result, they simply do not have the time nor motivation to go out of their way and manage their PSLs efficiently.

TR: Do you have any further advice for companies regarding refreshing their PSL?

MR: The volatile nature of recruitment agencies means that your PSL should never be fixed or go too long without being reassessed, and with the recent shift to modern recruitment techniques in some agencies, there is no better time than now to shake up your PSL.

While it may seem preferable to lock yourself away from the never-ending swarm of recruiters harassing you on a day to day basis, you will be missing out on the modern agencies that have adapted to a new era of recruitment. The agencies who are using the latest recruitment techniques and are going to provide you and your organisation with access to the top talent that you need, as and when you need them.

Using an out-of-date PSL filled with old school recruiters, will likely result in you and your organisation losing out on the best talent.


If you’re looking to shake-up your PSL and add modern and innovative suppliers to your list, get in touch with us today!

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