The top 10 tips when selecting a recruitment agency

Want to know how to select the right recruitment agency for your business? We outline the top 10 tips to keep in mind when making your choice.

As a recruitment agency, you may expect us to say that when it comes to hiring staff, you should only talk to us. But here at Anne Corder Recruitment we believe it’s vital you make an informed and independent decision on who to use to find the right staff for your business.

That’s why we impartially detail below the top 10 tips to keep in mind when choosing a recruitment agency.

Recruitment Agency Selection – Top Tips

  1. Talk to other businesses

The first tip is to talk to other businesses who have dealt with or used the recruitment agencies you’re considering.

If an agency is local to you, it may well be the case that other businesses you know have come across them or used them before, or they may even be an existing client of theirs.

Ask them about their experiences with the agency, if they have hired staff put forward by them, and if so, how they worked out and whether they are still employees.

This will help you understand not only the effectiveness of the agency in finding staff, but also indicate how well matched the candidates were to the company.

If a business tells you that the agency was unable to find suitable staff for them, or those they hired turned out to be wrong for the company, this is a warning sign that perhaps the agency isn’t as effective as they claim to be. Or it could indicate that they don’t spend the time really understanding the philosophies and cultures of their client businesses before sourcing suitable candidates that share the same values.

  1. Talk to staff who were sourced by the agency

The relationship that a recruitment agency has with candidates (job seekers) is just as important as the one it has with its clients.

That’s why it’s always a good idea to also speak to employees who secured their job through an agency you’re considering.

Ask them what their experience of the agency was, whether they were kept informed during the recruitment process, and whether they felt valued and respected when dealing with them (and if you can find them, also ask this of candidates who were unsuccessful securing a job through the agency, as any good agency should treat all candidates – regardless of whether they were successful at securing a job or not – respectfully).

A sure sign that an agency is trusted and effective is when a candidate they successfully placed with a client later becomes responsible for hiring staff for that business and then commissions the agency to source the employees they need. The individual has gone from job seeker to client and wouldn’t use the agency unless their experience with them had been good.

  1. Check their credentials

In the UK, anyone can call themselves a recruiter despite not having any qualifications or accreditations to validate this. So to ensure that you select a high quality agency that is experienced and professional, check their credentials.

The very best agencies will be accredited by a professional body such as the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) or the Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP), and will be regularly tested to ensure they abide by their Code of Conduct or Practice.

And a small number may have gone even further and gained globally recognised ISO accreditation or other credentials that demonstrate their professionalism and quality.

Ensure you select an agency that provides this assurance; it can prove costly and frustrating if you don’t!

  1. Ask to speak to their clients

Any good agency should be happy for you to speak to their clients so you can hear for yourself their experiences of working with them.

Some of them may be long term clients who have used the agency for years, whilst others may be more recent and went through a similar process as you to find the right agency for them.

Either way, you’ll learn why these businesses trust the agency to find them the staff they need and what it is about the agency that separates them from the rest.

  1. Check how long they have been around

If stability and experience are important to you, check how long the agency (or agencies) you’re considering have been around.

New recruitment agencies are being set up often, but many of the most highly regarded agencies have been around for decades and weathered the storm of huge economic changes brought about by events such as recessions and the more recent global Covid 19 pandemic.

This experience means they are robust, resilient, and have the ability to adapt to change quickly, all qualities that may be important to you when selecting an agency.

  1. Ask about their success rate

Ultimately you’ll want to use a recruitment agency that delivers results and puts forward great candidates that you want to hire.

So ask the agencies you’re considering about their success rates and how successful they have been at sourcing and placing candidates in businesses just like yours.

Most high quality agencies will be happy to provide this information; be wary of those that aren’t!

  1. See what people are saying about them

Another great way to assess an agency is to read what people are saying about them.

So do some online research and read independent reviews that have been posted about them on Google or ratings sites.

Agencies may have asked past and existing clients to post reviews about them, but they don’t control what is actually written or the comments made about them by other businesses or individuals.

Of course, reviews can be very subjective, but if an agency has a bank of great reviews and this is supported by your other research (the tips listed here), you’re likely to be in good hands.

  1. Make sure you are comparing like for like

This may seem obvious, but not all recruitment agencies offer the same services, so when it comes to selecting the one for you, make sure you are comparing them like for like.

This means ensuring they all provide the services you want from an agency, from advertising vacancies, filtering applications, liaising with candidates, and much more.

Some agencies won’t provide all of these services, with some just focusing on advertising vacancies or compiling a long list of candidates for a business to sort through themselves.

Others will offer additional added value services, such as taking part in job interviews if required or developing resourcing strategies for their clients.

So make sure you’re clear about exactly what you want an agency to do for you before assessing the ones that fit the bill.

  1. Understand their guarantees

Some agencies – particularly full service agencies who manage every aspect of recruitment campaigns for their clients – typically offer a guarantee that candidates they put forward who are hired by a company will prove to be great additions to their workforce.

If they don’t within an agreed timespan – usually three months – then the agency will typically refund their fees to the client or source them an alternative suitable candidate for free.

As most traditional recruitment agencies are only paid on a contingency basis – if and when a client hires a candidate they put forward – it is in their interest to find the very best applicants for the positions they’re advertising.

However, not all recruitment agencies offer a guarantee of the quality of the candidates that they put forward and are subsequently hired. They instead charge their fee regardless of how long a candidate stays with a company or how they work out.

Some also charge upfront fees for their services (which can be a fixed cost or variable based on the employee’s starting salary), in addition to not guaranteeing they will find suitable candidates or even any candidates at all.

For this reason, it is important to understand the guarantees an agency offers before making your choice.

  1. Meet them in person

If possible, it’s always a good idea to meet agencies in person before selecting the one to use.

This will not only allow you to learn more about their services and expertise, but also allow you to see if they are the right fit for your business.

Different agencies operate in different ways – some of which may suit your business and some of which may not – so it’s important to find one that not only is effective at finding great candidates, but also aligns with your values.

Read more about this in the articles ‘How do I choose one recruitment agency over another’ and ‘What should employers look for in a recruitment agency’.


Alex Smith

Recruitment Specialist

I’ve worked in recruitment for the same agency for over 12 years, covering finance, office support, construction, and engineering. Temp and perm. Previously, my line of work was within banking and estate agency.
Favourite food: “Curry (Hot)”
Favourite film: “Heat”

Outside of work

“Gym 5 days a week. Home life consists mostly of entertaining a 3 year old! (for clarification – my son)”

Alex on ACR

“Very refreshing to work for a recruitment agency that genuinely care for their candidates and clients”

T: 01733 235298

Sarah-Jane Bond

Recruitment Specialist

I have spent the majority of my career working in Operational and Project Management roles. I first worked with ACR about 25 years ago as a candidate. ACR secured me a role at RNIB, where I stayed for 15 years, finishing as Head of Operations. Recruitment has always been a big part of the roles I have undertaken and is something that I really enjoy. When you match a fantastic candidate with the right client there is no better feeling!
Favourite food: “Has to be any dish from the Mediterranean”
Favourite film: “There are many, love a chick flick, especially ‘The Holiday at Christmas”

Outside of work

“I love socialising with friends, can always squeeze a bit of retail therapy in around volunteering at Deeping Rangers FC, running their hospitality on match days.”

Sarah-Jane on ACR

“I couldn’t have been more delighted when Nel asked me to join the company and have felt at home since day one. They really do care about providing the best service for their clients and candidates, building genuine relationships with both. The team culture is second to none, everyone supporting and looking out for each other. It is a pleasure to come to work every day.”

T: 01733 235298

Emily Roach

Recruitment Specialist

Emily was a Primary School Teacher for 10 years, before moving into the EdTech space, as a Relationship Specialist for MATs. She joined ACR in July 2023 and particularly thrives when recruiting for Account Management, Customer Service and Sales roles.
Favourite food:
“Spag bol or pizza”
Favourite film:
“The Notebook – or any romantic chick flick really!”
Outside of work
“I have a 1-year-old, so love fun family weekends with my fiancé and son more than anything. Time socialising with friends and family is where I’m happiest.”
Emily on ACR
“The unique culture, values, and style at ACR is polar opposite to other recruitment agencies and what I believed recruitment was. Having previously been a Relationship Specialist, I feel I’m doing the same thing! No hard sell, we truly care about our candidates and clients, and the team culture is 2nd to none!”
T: 01733 235298

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