Ten tips for choosing a recruitment company

The effective recruitment of permanent and temporary staff is one of the key challenges facing UK companies. As a result an increasing number of organisations are looking to work with recruitment partners to help them deliver in an increasingly tight labour market.

The key issue is how to choose and appropriate partner, says Marcia Roberts, deputy chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

Here are 10 tips to help you do this.

1. Specific or general?

If your recruitment needs are fairly general then you should look at a broad range of agencies. However, if you are in a highly specialised industry or require someone with very specific skills you need a sector specific agency.

Ask for evidence of experience in that industry. Have they found candidates for your competitors, or has anyone in the company worked in that industry themselves?

2. Check their screening process

You are paying for a service to save you time and money – you do not want to be wading through CVs that are not applicable to the job specification or sitting through interviews with candidates who are clearly not suitable.

Furthermore, does the agency check their candidates’ references? If you are filling a permanent position this is an essential task. If you do not have time to do this, choose an agency, which does as a matter of course, or ask specifically for this service when vetting your prospective recruiter.

3. Speak to someone!

The quality of their personnel will reveal a great deal about a recruitment agency. They should be up to speed on employment law that applies to you. They should ask you lots of questions to determine the skills you require.

4. Look at their mission statement

Do they subscribe to rigorous codes of practice and standardisation? Look for indicators of a commitment to high performance and ethics.

5. Do they practise what they preach?

Do they believe in professional qualifications and developing their own staff? Look for recruiters with industry qualifications, qualified consultants will be conversant in the legal, ethical and business issues and trained to select and interview candidates for accurate matching.

6. Can you complain to their industry body? 

Are they members of an industry body with a complaints and disciplinary procedure? This gives you added peace of mind by offering you considerable leverage in the event of a complaint.

7. Everybody loves them

Have previous clients left testimonials in praise of the agency? Good recruitment agencies often have glowing sound bites from satisfied customers, and case studies from successful projects.

8. Experience of armies or individuals

Do they have specific procedures for dealing with the needs of small and large projects? Recruiting a single permanent staff member is a world away from co-ordinating an army of temps, and their recruitment policy in each sphere should reflect this.

9. Hear the pitch

If you are still unsure, why not invite the agency in for a sales presentation. This gives them an incentive to do their homework on your industry and an opportunity to showcase it. A good performance tells you they are committed.

10. The commitment

With the increasing focus on diversity in UK workplaces, a number of companies are looking to work with agencies that have a real commitment to delivering effective diversity strategies.


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