How to Choose a Recruitment Agency
Recruiting and retaining top quality candidates is one of the most important decisions a hiring manager can make. Choosing a qualified recruitment agency whose approach and values complement your own organisation can be daunting. By asking the following questions you can develop effective selection criteria for choosing a recruitment agency that best meets your hiring needs:
Who will spearhead the search?
With many other recruitment agencies and search firms the senior consultant or “sales person” will take the details of your requirement and then hand it over to a more junior person or their “order filler” to search for suitable candidates. The junior person learns your business second hand; they have not met with you and do not understand your culture or the personalities of the people who comprise your team. The quality of the candidates presented to you becomes compromised at your expense. Ask who will be working your search assignment and identifying potential candidates.
How long have you been recruiting?
Recruitment agencies have the reputation of being a high turnover business. Statistics show that the average life span of a recruiter is anywhere from 24 to 36 months. Ask your future recruiters how long they have been in the business? Google their names. Are they industry experts? Do they appear to have a successful history in the business?
Ask how many roles they fill in your niche space every month? An answer of between 3 to 6 is realistic. Anything less means they are not successful specialists. Anything more means they may be spreading themselves too thin and not doing quality work.
Are you meeting quality candidates?
When you meet the candidates represented by the recruitment agency, do they appear to have the following traits:
- Has the candidate shown steady career progression?
- Has the candidate jumped around a lot, without credible reasons?
- Do they have quantifiable accomplishments (ie. measurable results!) or simply vague answers about what their company or department has done?
- Do they have a strong desire to move or are they tire kicking?
- What is their motivation to move?
- Ask the candidate if they were headhunted or “sourced” by the recruitment agency? Great candidates have not emailed or posted their resumes all over town.
- How many other agencies are representing them/ how many job boards have their resume posted?
- What do they know about your position and company? Often, a recruiter will not take the time to explain fully the opportunity, but will simply say, “Just go have a talk with the employer to learn more.” If this happens, you are not being served well.
At what point are reference checks conducted?
Good recruiters will conduct preliminary reference checks on a candidate before presenting them, to ensure that you are not wasting your time interviewing someone who will receive a poor reference later in the process.
Good references will include those from previous supervisors, colleagues and subordinates in past and present positions. Ask for the transcripts of these conversations when they initially present resumes to you.
A good recruiter will conduct a formal, follow-up reference check after you have expressed interest in a particular candidate. A good recruiter will ask tough questions during these reference checks and not be intimidated by the legal climate developing around this area. At this time they may specifically discuss your job description with the ex-employer in order to realistically evaluate the candidate’s appropriateness for your position.
Does your recruiter have the ability to act as a mediator?
In addition to working for you to recruit suitable candidates, the consultant should work to bring candidates’ concerns and reservations back to you and find a compromise that both parties are comfortable with. 15% of all positions filled by recruitment agencies are unsuccessful because the recruiter does not address initial candidate concerns or because they use pressure tactics to get the candidate to accept the offer.
What is their guarantee?
Most agencies will provide a replacement guarantee in the case that the hired individual does not work out for some reason. Three months is a typical guarantee period.
However, it is difficult to get most firms to concentrate on a replacement search when there is no longer a financial incentive. Ask for references from the agency from companies which required a replacement search, and find out whether they felt well taken care of, or had to badger the search firm to get the replacement search completed.