WHY is it when I mention using an agency most of my clients start muttering about costs and rocking? My guess is that their previous experiences have been so dreadful they daren’t use an agency again! I aim to share a few top tips of how to get the best from the agency you choose as a follow on to my first and second parts in the series of Top Tips for successful recruitment.


So Agencies – If you are going to use an agency then do it properly!

  1. Choose carefully – You need to know the person you are dealing with understands you, your business and the job they are recruiting for. Give them the opportunity to demonstrate this. Meet them. They should make recruitment a painless process. As Monster.co.uk says there are some key questions you need to ask before deciding which agency to use. There is no right answer to many of the questions, it depends what’s right for your business.
  • Has the agency recruited for similar positions before?
  • Do you need a specialist agency or will a general ‘high street’ one suffice?
  • What are the credentials of the consultants that will handle your account?
  • Can they supply testimonials from previous clients?
  • Do they comply with recruitment industry standards?
  • Does the agency have a clear pricing structure?
  • How do their fees compare with the industry average?
  • What background checks will the agency perform on candidates
  • What role will you be expected to pay in the process
  • How much contact will you receive from the agency?
  1. Let them do their job – You will get the best service if, once you have chosen your consultant, you let them do the job. Don’t be tempted to use lots of different agencies either; agree the terms and agree what you get in that service, including timescales from the one you selected.       That commitment from you will gain better commitment from them. Recruitment agencies in general work on a ‘no recruitment, no fee’ basis. By using lots of other agencies you are just making it less likely that they be successful and therefore their commitment to finding you the best lower as their time could be for nothing. There are very few industries who work for nothing!
  2. Make sure they have done their job! – I would expect them to have done at least a first interview with each applicant prior to submitting their CV, not just run an advert and forward the response, or as one agency did with a client of mine – trawl the job sites, download a CV for someone looking for a job and send that through to claim a £4.5k fee! No -if I am paying for a service I want to have that expertise and service!
  3. Make sure they add value – If you chose the right one then they should have skills that you don’t so use these properly. For instance get them to help with the interview process, or ask them to indicate why they have selected that person against another; it is in their best interest for you to get the right person for the job. What are they bringing to the process that you don’t have?
  4. Work with them, not against them – Give the selected agency as much detail as possible on your requirements. This will help them select the right candidates and so provide you with a better service. As a minimum you should provide the following: job role, location, salary & benefits, job description/specification preferred start date and potential interview process. Then provide feedback for the CVs you have received and after any interviews; the more they know about what was good and what wasn’t the easier it is to find you someone. Don’t do as one manager I work with does as he hands back the CV with a ‘No’ on top. Get them to explain why that is a ‘no’ and share that with the agency. Listen to their advice, they will be the experts in the market (assuming you have chosen well) so if they advise you your expectations are unrealistic then move on quickly and be flexible for interviews etc – put yourself in the job seekers shoes again.
  5. Read the Ts & Cs – Take care to understand the fees and rebates. Many will insist the invoice is paid very promptly and may well not include a guarantee period for candidates who have worked on a temporary basis first. Most will offer a free replacement if something goes wrong (other than redundancy) but it will only be for about three months so make sure you manage the probation period carefully.
  6. Barter – I have yet to come across an agency that is not prepared to negotiate on fees (ok just the one that wasn’t). Just because it states 18% (or whatever), doesn’t mean it is 18%. It’s always worth a try. If you plan to use them frequently consider setting up a preferred supplier arrangement. This offers various benefits in service and/or price, in return for a commitment of business.       Remember too that the cheapest is not necessarily the best; consider the overall service/package on offer.

I hope that helps your path through the minefield that is recruitment agencies. I’m now expecting a barrage of comments from my recruitment colleagues – be gentle with me !!


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