How to Choose an Agency

Deciding which recruitment agency to work with is often a difficult and always a significant business decision.  A good agency can add value to your recruitment process by:

  • Introducing you to strong candidates you otherwise could not have found
  • Informing and strengthening your recruitment strategy
  • Guiding you through the interview and hire process
  • Helping you to think creatively about how to fulfil your requirements
  • A poor choice of recruiter can damage your brand and your business
  • How do you choose a recruitment agency?  And why it matters

To increase your chances of finding these good agencies, here are a few things to consider when making your choice.

First and foremost, how long has the agency been established and does it have a good reputation? Although a new or young agency should not be discounted automatically, a well established agency with a good reputation will be able to demonstrate a track record of delivering results.

ACCREDITATION

The recruitment industry is highly regulated and you must be confident that any recruitment agency you engage is compliant with the requirements of The Conduct Regulations, which regulate the UK recruitment industry.  One way an agency can demonstrate this is through membership of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), the professional body for the UK recruitment industry.  REC members must comply with the REC Code of Professional Practice, which lists statutory compliance, high ethical standards and good recruitment practice amongst its key principles.  REC members are regularly compliance assessed to ensure their understanding of the Conduct Regulations.

Member agencies are regularly, independently inspected so you can be sure that their basic practices have been approved as safe and legal, they also receive regular briefings and updates on changes to the law and to best practice in recruitment, so you can be assured their knowledge is up to speed with the changing environment. www.rec.uk.com

Another criterion for selection is the agency’s approach to quality – is its service quality assured by an effective, customer focused quality management system?  An agency may demonstrate this by having a system that is certified to ISO 9001, the international standard that specifies the requirements of quality management systems.

In order to be compliant with the Conduct Regulations, agencies must conduct right-to-work checks on all temporary workers it supplies.

Checks must be conducted in accordance with Home Office guidelines, which require the agency to have examined original documents at a face-to-face interview.

Unless supplying temporary workers to work with vulnerable people, there is no legal requirement for an agency to obtain references on temporary workers, but some do, and this demonstrates a commitment by the agency to providing quality temporary staff with a proven work history.

THE RIGHT PEOPLE FOR YOU

With compliance taken care of, you need to be confident the agency can find you the right people.  How does an agency source its candidates? Where does it advertise the jobs it handles?  Does it utilise specialist jobs boards?  The larger the pool of talent from which the agency can select, the more likely it is to submit suitable candidates.

It is important that an agency takes time to develop a thorough understanding of a client’s business and culture in the early stages of the relationship.  This enables the agency to identify candidates who will be a good fit for the client and the role it seeks to fill, and allows the agency to communicate quickly and effectively with potential candidates.

Communication between agency and client must be maintained throughout the recruitment process and beyond, ensuring the successful candidate settles into their permanent position or temporary assignment and that both parties are happy.

You may have noticed that I have yet to talk about price.  This is not because it is a minor factor, but because price should always be seen in relation to what you get for it.  There are many agencies that charge rock bottom prices.  If you are considering using one, please also consider whether or not you will get everything, or indeed anything, I have mentioned here.  With recruitment agencies, as with many things in life, you more often than not get what you pay for.

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