The recruitment industry is fiercely competitive. In the North West alone, there are almost 700 recruitment agencies. Many more from further afield also advertise recruitment services in this area. With so many options available, how do you decide which is the best recruitment agency for your business?
Firstly, bear in mind that there is a difference between recruitment agencies and recruitment consultants. To understand which one you need, it is necessary to be aware of the differences between the two.
Choosing The Best Recruitment Agency to Work With
Before engaging in conversation with a recruitment agency, it’s essential to keep in mind that salespeople power them. However, quality recruiters can save your business insurmountable time and money and are worth their weight in gold!
Although finding one who is a good fit for your business can be an onerous task. Therefore, this article offers impartial advice that will help you find the best recruitment agency for your business.
Some might say that being a recruitment consultancy ourselves, any advice we offer on this topic might be slightly biased. However, we operate within a specific niche and offer a style of service which may not suit every business.
Sticking within our area of expertise and fine-tuning our service to suit that sphere of the job market has enabled us to build a solid reputation. It is in nobody’s best interests for us to venture outside of our area of expertise, wind up doing a lousy job and risking our reputation. Therefore, where we do not consider ourselves to be the best option, we will always advise accordingly.
A Note on Recruitment Fees
Recruitment fees charged by reputable agencies are usually between 15% and 30% of the final agreed salary. Any agency resorting to undercutting the market average will not do so without reason. It would, therefore, be prudent to question how they can provide a quality service at reduced rates?
Additionally, it is not usual to ask for payment in advance of making a permanent placement. Therefore, you should be wary of working with agencies who ask for a retainer without good reason.
Of course, there are exceptions to the above. For example, where recruitment agencies work continually filling high turnover or temporary roles for a company. In this case, it is perfectly normal for agencies to charge a monthly fee on top of their usual commission.
Likewise, where an agency must do a great deal of work to seek out hard to come by, niche skills, it is perfectly reasonable for them to request a retainer. By not doing so, they risk doing a vast amount of work which they might not get paid for.
Ten Points to Help You Find the Best Recruitment Agency to Work With
Once you enter into a conversation with a Recruiter, they will no doubt convince you that they are the best person for the job. Whether or not they can deliver quality service is a different matter entirely. That’s why before even entering into a conversation with them, it is prudent to research them thoroughly.
Below is a list of the top ten points to consider when looking for a recruitment agency to work with. The first seven can be used as a checklist to identify a shortlist of the best agencies available. The final three will enable you to determine the one most likely to provide your business and your candidates with the best service.
1 – Online Presence
Put yourself in the job seeker’s shoes and try searching for the kind of role you’re most likely to advertise. For example, if you envisage several IT vacancies becoming available, try searching for something like; “IT recruitment specialists Manchester”. Companies appearing at the top of the search results will be the ones your job candidates see first.
2 – Social Media
Recruitment companies with active social media feeds will be more memorable to candidates than those who have very little activity going on. At the opposite end of the spectrum, followers could quickly become unfollowers if their feed seems spammy.
As part of your research, take a look at the kind of content recruiters share. Does it provide candidates with useful information that demonstrates their industry expertise? If so, they likely have a good understanding of the job sector they service.
3 – Relevant Job Boards
Try registering as a candidate with job boards relevant to your sector and conducting a job search just like they would. The results you see will offer clues as to the agencies specialising in the niche skills you want to hire. Again, if you can see their ads, your candidates will too.
4 – Area of Expertise
Not all agencies operate within all sectors, so it’s vital to do your research on who the top names are within your industry. For example, our clients often tell us we’re one of the best recruitment consultancy firms in Manchester when it comes to hiring skilled IT Professionals. However, if you had an urgent requirement for a Director’s PA, it’s unlikely we would be the best choice for that kind of role.
5 – Location
As most business happens online these days, location is less relevant than it used to be. However, let’s say your business is in Manchester. North-West based agencies should have more knowledge of your local market than one based in Birmingham, for example.
6 – Professional Associations
Anyone can set themselves up in business as a recruiter, without any prior knowledge, qualifications or training. So how do you know that you can trust a recruiter you choose to work with?
Look for signs on their website that they are members of professional organisations. There are several external bodies who ensure that Recruitment Consultants comply with industry standards. There is no legal obligation to be a member of such organisations. However, a reliable recruitment agency will be a member of at least one of the following:
- APSCo (The Association of Professional Staffing Companies)
- REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation)
- IOR (Institute of Recruiters)
- ARC (Association of Recruitment Consultancies)
7 – Reputation
Before working with a recruiter, it is wise to research their online reputation. Look for testimonials backed up by Trustpilot stars or reviews which can not be fabricated. Alternatively, look for case studies on their website featuring companies they have worked with previously.
8 – Telephone Manner
When you speak to them on the phone, pay attention to the service you receive. Keep in mind the following questions as you talk to them:
- Could you imagine establishing a working relationship with this person?
- Do they sound knowledgeable?
- Are they paying attention to the finer details?
- Would you enjoy dealing with them regularly if you had to?
- Could you trust them to have conversations with candidates on your behalf that could potentially affect the future of your business?
This last question is particularly important when conducting an executive search. Of course, any new employee you take on will undoubtedly have an impact on your business. Although, where staff are in a position of influence, it’s critical for that impact to be a positive one. Therefore, the recruiter you hire to conduct that search must have a thorough understanding of your business, an enquiring mind and a meticulous eye for detail.
9 – Processes
Recruitment consultants must follow a similar process to reach candidates. Rather than just quizzing them about their recruitment processes, put them to the test. For example, give them a reason to call you back and arrange a specific time with them. Whether or not they stick to the schedule is a good indicator of how well they keep appointments with candidates.
10 – Engagement
A common trait of shoddy recruitment consultants is that candidates report having a super engaging initial conversation but never hear from them again. This makes it possible for, other, more proactive recruiters to swoop in and close the deal. Of course, the result might be the same for your business and the candidate – they may still end up working for your company.
However, your reason for hiring a recruitment consultant in the first place is to create as smooth a journey as possible for all concerned. The situation above is likely to generate considerable work for you and a stressful experience for job seekers. The way to avoid this is by aiming only to work with recruitment consultants who keep their candidates engaged.
It is, therefore, essential to find out before working with any recruitment consultant, what they do to keep candidates engaged. Asking questions around the subject will only ever result in them telling you what to hear. They are salespeople, after all. Instead, try testing their mettle by taking note of the following:
- Do they keep appointments?
- If they are unable to keep appointments, do they at least keep you informed?
- Do they give you regular updates on their progress?
- Do they confirm essential details by email backing up telephone conversations?
- Are they available when you need them or do they only get in touch when they need something from you?
- If you ask them to do something, do they respond to your request without you having to chase them?
- If they are unable to provide you with something you need, do they provide you with an update?
What if You Feel You’ve Hired the Wrong Recruitment Agency?
Hiring a rotten recruiter can result in candidates having a bad experience, which can negatively impact your reputation. However, while this is far from being an ideal scenario, it’s not the end of the world. The great thing about using Recruitment Consultants, from a business perspective, is that it won’t cost you a penny until they make a placement. (See note on exceptions above.) Therefore it’s worth placing the same job with several recruitment agencies at once to find out who performs better. It may be that over time, you will find that they each have their strengths and weaknesses.
If you would like to discuss our recruitment services in more detail, please don’t hesitate to contact our team or send us a vacancy. Or if you would like more information, please check out the services we offer to our clients.
We hope you found this article useful. If you did, no doubt others will benefit from it too. Please share this article on social media; they will be bound to thank you for it!