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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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’.