"90% of success is just showing up" famously quipped Woody Allen. I think there's a ton of truth in that but it didn't help me a lick when I showed up, unprepared, for a Calculus exam in college.
Oh, I "showed up", alright. It was just everything else I had a problem with.
A gazillion smart or clever things have also been written about the importance of impeccable organization,,,and the value of timing. (or access to "timely" information).
How do you manage "timing" when it comes to hiring? You don't- it manages you. And the problem is staring right back at you in the mirror.
In recent years, corporate Human Resources departments have put tremendous trust in Applicant Tracking Software (ATS). It's not working. LinkedIn has helped company and candidate alike but it doesn't solve the problem of everyone being in synch..."we need you now..does now work for you?"
Many of the better companies do a good job in keeping tabs on the pool of sought-after talent in their industry. But they are still forced to use agencies when they need that certain someone ASAP- and they pay big money for it.
Agencies have no secret sauce. They face the same challenges as the employers. Endlessly contacting their candidates under the guise of "just touching base"- if that's their secret sauce, that's not too tough to replicate for the companies doing the hiring. And most agencies don't do a helluva lot more than that. Ask a top performer in any industry how many of those calls he receives every month.
The problem for both sides is alarming turnover amongst the people whose job it is to stay close to any specialized labor market. When you're constantly flipping segments of your workforce (recruiting), there's simply no real knowledge transfer taking place when they leave. Expensive software is better than the old yellow candidate file folders...but not by much. And the expensive software will always run victim to the Garbage In, Garbage Out reality so widespread to an apathetic workforce that expects to be working somewhere else in a few months.
This is why instead of having the name at their fingertips of that Project Manager who's likely going to be on the market in the early Spring, companies will pay 15, 20, 30K and more to an agency who has that"timely" information.