Our top five tips for using recruitment agencies

Feb 22, 2016 | Recruitment

Agencies can be valuable when recruiting in your business, saving you time and effort sourcing candidates. But you need to use them effectively to ensure the process works and you’re getting good value for money.

Here are our top five tips for making the most of your recruitment agency.

Choose the right one

Recruitment agencies consist of- high street’ agencies dealing mainly in manual workers and white collar staff up to supervisor level; agencies or consultancies specialising in technical, management and professional staff; and executive search consultants, specialising in very senior positions.

You will need to decide which type of agency is most suited to the vacancy you are filling, as well as to the sector and location you are working in. Agencies are often the first port of call for candidates looking for their next career move, so you should reach a good range of suitable applicants for your role, as long as you choose the right agency.

Agree terms before you start

Agencies can be more expensive than other recruitment methods, however bear in mind that a large proportion of the administrative burden of recruitment will be taken away from you by appointing an agency, and you would normally pay nothing unless a candidate is successfully appointed to the role.

Ensure you agree terms before you appoint an agency. Most agencies will have standard terms and conditions, involving a fee expressed as a percentage of the salary for the role being recruited. It is worth trying to negotiate these fees if you can, some agencies will give a discount to voluntary sector organisations for example, or if you have several roles you wish to recruit.

There is usually a structure of partial fee reimbursement should the candidate leave employment within a short period of time, and as with fees, it is also worthwhile to try and negotiate a longer rebate period wherever possible.

Understand where the candidates will come from

Agencies often have a database of applicants which they can search and will often also advertise for candidates for your role and shortlist on your behalf. Agency recruitment will often save you time and effort in this respect and the candidates who are put forward for the role should all be fairly suitable and targeted to the requirements you have specified – you should not get lots of unsuitable applications as you may get if you advertise.

Make sure you talk to the agency about where they will source candidates, and let them know if you have any preferences.

Use their knowledge and services correctly

Agencies have the benefit of good knowledge of the recruitment market which can be invaluable if you don’t recruit often or are recruiting a specialist role. They usually have a good insight into salary expectations for different jobs and in your local area, and may also have access to specific salary surveys. You can use all this information to ensure you are paying the correct salary to attract the candidates you want.

Agencies can also pre-screen and interview candidates before you see them, to reduce the impact of recruitment on your time, and may also seek references and do checks into employment history for you.

Communicate with the agency effectively

To get the most out of the process, ensure that you communicate with the agency in terms of what your requirements and expectations are. It is advisable to send the agency a copy of the role and person specification for the vacancy and provide further information about the context of the role and company i.e. what information will help- sell’ the role and company to potential applicants.

Be realistic with the agency about your expectations and set timeframes for feedback and updates. What are your ideal timescales for the recruitment process; how many CVs are you hoping to see; when will you provide feedback etc. This will help prevent agencies chasing you on a daily basis or not contacting you regularly enough.

Remember regular feedback is not only important for the- candidate experience’ of your recruitment process, but also provides valuable information to the agency in terms of refreshing their search criteria on a regular basis.

If you would like advice on using agencies effectively when recruiting for your business, do get in touch.