As a result of two team assistants resigning in quick succession, I have been thrown into the world of Recruitment Agencies from a company perspective, rather than a candidate one. This is the first time in my career that I have dealt with multiple recruitment agencies at the same time. This is also the first time I’ve had a real appreciation of what they do.

During my career, I’ve registered with dozens of different recruitment agencies. Large ones, small ones, independents. They have largely been all the same. I send in my CV, they ask to see me, and then they tell me that they will be in touch if a role comes up. Eventually I get a job, and the chances are that I couldn’t tell you the name of the agency which placed me.

Working with recruitment agencies to find a candidate, I feel, is where you find out the difference between them.

Fees

The fees are generally standard throughout recruitment agencies, with them charging somewhere in the region of 15-25% depending on the salary of the person they place and your working relationship with them.

I spoke to someone recently who tried to hire a PA without using an agency. He told me that he’d had around 80 applications for one role, and only two were suitable for interviewing. This is why we use recruitment agencies, and this is why we are happy to pay for them. They do an awful lot of work before sending candidates through the door, and a good one will send only people who would actually be suitable for the role.

Perhaps this is only relevant for London, or other major cities, but I would use a recruitment agency when hiring without a shadow of a doubt.

Terms

When they send through their Heads of Terms, READ THEM THOROUGHLY. I cannot stress this enough. Chances are you will scan through them, see that they are pretty standard, and just sign them. You might also get told to “just sign them” which is terrible practice.

I’d met a recruiter at a networking event and shortly after meeting them our team assistant resigned. She was the first person I called to help me with finding a replacement. She came in and we talked through the role. Later that day she sent through her terms and I read them and signed them. She then sent through a bunch of CVs and so the recruitment process started.

In the terms were the details around what would happen if the candidate left the company within the first few weeks. It hadn’t even entered my mind that the person I hired would leave within the first month, but they did. It was nothing to do with my company – there were unforeseen personal circumstances and she left on very good terms. However, we were stung for a recruitment bill for £4000 – half of the agreed fee. This is what the contract had stated we would pay so I had no choice.

Follow Up

Good recruitment agencies will follow up with candidates to make sure they are happy and settled in their role. They will also follow up with the hiring manager to make sure they are happy with their hire. They will care that they have placed the right person with the right company, and will want to get feedback so that they can improve their services.

In the instance of the person who left my company within the first month, I didn’t get so much as a call from the recruiter. Nothing whatsoever. Having spoken to other recruitment agencies since that happened, I learned that this is not standard practice. Not only is it downright rude to not acknowledge that we ended up in a less than optimal situation, there wasn’t even any offer to help find a replacement.

What I did receive was a phone call from their accounts department chasing up on the invoice, and a call from their temp department letting me know that they knew our candidate had left (on a week’s notice) and therefore we must need someone to fill her place immediately.

When I spoke to other recruitment agencies, I learned that their standard practices were to find a free replacement if someone left within the first 6 weeks, or to cancel the invoice altogether.

Result

recruitment agenciesAll recruitment agencies want their clients to be happy. They want companies to find the right fit for their teams, and they want their candidates to find awesome roles.

With the agency I described, I would never go back to them again. They placed an awesome candidate with my company, who left because of her own personal reasons. I completely accept that there was nothing that they could have done. But the way they handled it afterwards was very unprofessional and completely unacceptable. I am now in a position where I have paid thousands of pounds and received nothing in return. They have left me with a very bitter taste.

I am now using two agencies to fill a role – both of whom know about each other. Respect has to come from both sides. I have been completely honest with both of them about my position. They both have assured me that if they place someone with us who leaves, they will replace them free of charge. This how recruitment agencies should work! I’m genuinely dreading having to tell one of them that we have hired someone from the other.

 

Have you had a positive experience with recruitment agencies? What did they do to impress you? What things do you look for in recruitment agencies when you are hiring? Post your comments below!

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