Five ways to get the best from a recruitment agency

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Using a recruitment company can help you find the best candidate for your vacancy, and it’s also likely to save you time and money. Here are 5 tips which should help you get the most from a recruitment company:

1.Select your recruitment agency with care 

It can be hard to decide when there are so many to choose from. Start by looking at whether the agency has a desirable image and similar values to your own. How do they attract candidates, and are they specialists in the area you’re recruiting for? Specialists frequently offer a greater understanding of your requirements, more suitable candidates, and importantly a consultative approach. They can often provide market insights, too, including what your competitors are paying for the same level of role.

What are the credentials of the individual consultant you'll be working with? Don't rely on the brand name alone if you're using a high-profile recruitment company, as that is no guarantee of success. You may want to explore a consultant’s previous experience, size of network, testimonials. 

Try to find out, too, whether the recruitment company delivers great service both ways –to you and to candidates -- otherwise the recruitment process may reflect badly on you.  

Moreover have a think about how many agencies you want to use. How many calls, meetings and CVs do you want to deal with? (Insider info: the more competitive the role, the less likely a recruitment consultant is going to spend quality time looking to fill it. They will give priority to vacancies they have a high chance of filling).

Our top tip: Less is more.

2.Meet your agency in person

It may sound time consuming but this will actually save you time. A 30 minute meeting with the recruitment consultant can make the difference between getting the right candidates and those that ‘aren’t quite hitting the mark’.

You expect a recruitment consultant to meet candidates before introducing them to you, and candidates should expect the same the other way around. A recruitment consultant is more likely to be able to sell your opportunity and company better if they’ve met you. It also ensures you’ve taken a bit of time to arm them with all the information they need to do a good job.

Our top tip: A face to face meeting is essential

3.Negotiate with an eye on value

The cheapest rate is not necessarily the best (usually it’s not).  Also, recruitment consultants often invest more time on filling vacancies which will result in a higher return.  However you should be happy with the value you are getting from your recruitment agency. Therefore it’s important to set out expectations from the start and any negotiating should be done up front. (Insider info: a recruitment company is more likely to reduce its fee if you can commit to something in return, e.g. faster payment terms or the next role exclusive).

Our top tip: Negotiate up front but think value not price.

4.Communicate during the recruitment process

Working with a recruitment company should be a partnership, so communication is key. Arm the recruitment consultant with as much information as possible to allow them to represent your vacancy and company correctly. Be open about the process and agree timescales.  

If the CVs you’re receiving aren’t right tell the consultant why -- it's best to pick up the phone and explain rather than putting it in an e-mail. Give them the opportunity to revisit after your feedback. Furthermore candidates deserve feedback after interviews. This is one of the biggest complaints from candidates and giving no feedback can reflect badly on your brand. Everyone understands how time-consuming recruitment can be, but plan ahead to make time to give feedback, and it won't feel like an "extra" but part of the process – which it absolutely should be.

Communication with all parties is key – if you don’t prioritise this, you’re really missing a trick.

Our top tip: Speaking is key. (Email isn’t always the best way)

5.Keep in touch after the role is filled

You’ve now selected your ideal candidate and can get on with your day job. Don’t underestimate the power of keeping in touch with your preferred recruitment consultants – after all you’ve just invested time building relationships with them. They should now understand you and the business and can react quickly the next time you need to recruit. Why not ask for their opinion if you want help on wording a job spec, or if you need salary information? Keep the lines of communication open:  after all, you may one day be asking them to help you find your next role.  

Our top tip: Value your good relationships


Image: Jenn Vargas