What should employers look for in a recruitment agency?

It can be difficult to know which recruitment agency to use if you’re an employer looking to hire staff. We outline here the key things you need to consider.

With literally thousands of recruitment agencies out there, the choice of which agency to use can be overwhelming. Should you use a local agency or a national brand? Should you find an agency that specialises in a particular sector or use one that covers a wide range of industries? Or should you trust an agency that focuses on one specific activity (such as advertising jobs) or one that provides a comprehensive range of recruitment services?

Having been around for more than 25 years, at Anne Corder Recruitment, we get it. There is a lot to consider when selecting a recruitment agency, and that’s why we’re going to outline here – impartially and honestly – the factors you need to think about when selecting the right agency for your business.

Alignment of values

It may not seem important – and you may be surprised that we have listed this first – but it’s vitally important the recruitment agency you select is aligned with your values. This means they understand your business philosophies and ethos and know what’s important to you outside of just the numbers and the bottom line.

Selecting an agency that doesn’t understand your values means they are unlikely to find the right type of candidates for you, or will put forward individuals who may meet the job specifications on paper but don’t share your vision and goals.

The way they operate

How the recruitment agency operates is also hugely important to consider. Are they the type of agency that focuses on filling vacancies fast by putting forward lots of candidates or one that is much more selective and takes the time to understand candidates’ motivations and aspirations before putting forward only the ones that are a perfect fit?

This difference between quantity and quality is key to how an agency operates, and as an employer its important to know which is most important to you. If you’re simply looking for staff to quickly fill urgent vacancies that you have, quantity focused agencies – that often rely on technology to target, attract, and filter potential candidates – may be perfect for you.

However, if it’s more important to find a candidate (or candidates) that bring particular skills and experience to the business and are likely to stay with you in the long term, then an agency that focuses on quality would be a better choice.

Services they provide

Not all recruitment agencies provide the same services. Some just specialise in advertising jobs and generating applications, whilst others also offer services such as helping businesses with their longer term human resources and staffing strategies or even providing assistance if staff have to be made redundant (‘outplacement’ services).

Others also provide additional added value services such as taking part in candidate interviews with employers, or providing personality and psychometric tests for shortlisted applicants, as well as creating resource management reports for senior staff.

The best advice is to consider what recruitment services and support you actually need before selecting the agency to use.

Experienced and knowledgeable staff

It may seem obvious, but it’s important to use an agency that has experienced and knowledgeable staff, particularly if you’re looking for a candidate (or candidates) that have specific skills and a track record of success.

The best agencies will be staffed by recruitment professionals who have worked in the sector for a number of years and are experts at finding exactly the right talent for their clients.

They will know the factors that are important to both employers and candidates, and have in-depth knowledge of the local, national, or international recruitment market, as well as particular industry sectors.

It’s no surprise that those agencies that have high quality staff are the most effective at finding candidates who add real value to their new employers and stay with them for the long term.

Sector or geographic experience

If you’re looking for staff that come from a particular industry sector or geographic area, it’s wise to consider an agency that specialises in these.

There are many agencies that just focus on recruiting staff from, and for, a particular sector – such as finance or healthcare – as well as those that are experts in a particular location or territory, with deep knowledge of the recruitment market in that area.

This expertise can make all the difference when finding staff, as these agencies will know exactly the factors that are important to businesses and candidates in the sector or location, including the right pay rates and employment benefits to offer.

A good reputation and track record

When a business is urgently looking for staff, it’s often easy to turn to an agency that promises quick results and seems to be cheaper than others. But it’s worth keeping in mind that many of these agencies, as highlighted previously, are focused on quantity not quality and typically offer a limited range of employment services.

Instead of risking a failed recruitment campaign, or worse still one that leads to you hiring the wrong person (or people), it is far better to use an agency with a good reputation and a strong track record of finding high quality employees.

To ensure you do, it’s a good idea to speak to other businesses in your area or sector to get their honest opinions, as well as read the testimonials of an agency’s past or existing clients. And no high quality legitimate agency should have a problem with you also asking to speak directly to some of their clients to get their views.

Industry recognition and accreditation

Anyone can set up and run a recruitment agency so, perhaps unsurprisingly, the quality of agencies across the country varies widely.

To avoid being ‘stung’ by an agency that promises results but delivers very little – or just takes your money – look for an agency that is industry recognised and accredited.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and the Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP) are two leading bodies that require their members to abide by professional Codes of Practice or Conduct, ensuring they deliver a high quality service to employers and candidates.

As well as being a member of the REC, Anne Corder Recruitment is a member and advocate of the IRP and has been rated by them as an ‘employer of choice’.  And it was one of the first agencies in the UK to seek globally recognised ISO accreditation, which it has successfully held for more than 20 years (the company is fully ISO 9001 certified).

Fee model

Recruitment agencies don’t all charge their clients in the same way and their costs can vary widely.

Whilst it is never a good idea to choose an agency based on price alone, it is important you’re clear about what services you will receive for your money and what guarantees – if any – you get from the agency.

Most agencies work on a ‘no results – no fee’ model, meaning you only pay them if they find you a candidate that your business hires. High quality agencies that work in this way will happily refund your fee or put it towards finding another candidate for the role if the person hired proves to be wrong for the company or quickly moves on.

But many agencies that charge an upfront fixed-fee instead, don’t offer this assurance, meaning that if your new hire doesn’t work out, your money has been wasted.


As an employer, there are a wide range of recruitment agencies that you could use, however, it’s important you select the one that provides the services you’re looking for, shares your values and approach, and has the experience and skills vital to securing the best candidates for you.

Unless you do, opting for just any recruitment agency could prove to be a painful and costly mistake.


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”

E: alex@annecorder.co.uk
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.”

E: sarahjane@annecorder.co.uk
T: 01733 235298

Emily Hill

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 husband 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!”
E: emily@annecorder.co.uk
T: 01733 235298

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