News & Insights
Tips for Working with Recruitment Agencies
Recruitment agencies earn a fee by placing people into permanent or contract roles. This fee is typically a percentage of the salary or contract day rate and can vary widely from less than 10% to more than 20%. The fee tends to increase for more senior roles or roles that are difficult to fill.
Agencies working as a preferred supplier and who are therefore on the preferred supplier list (PSL) may have agreed a lower fee but enjoy a closer working relationship with the client with a greater share of the vacancies to fill.
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) is the professional member based body that provides standard to the recruitment industry. As with many industries, some agencies operate higher professional standards than others. Membership of the REC provides some assurance of the standings of any particular agency.
Do all organisations use Recruitment Agencies?
No – but most will, either as a formal arrangement or as an extension of their own recruitment activities. Once a new role has been authorised the first step could be internal recruitment by the HR department. If there are no strong internal candidates then the HR department themselves may complete an external search. If this is unsuccessful, then the vacancy is placed with one or more agencies.
The same job can sit with Multiple Agencies?
Yes – which means two separate agencies might source the same candidate. Whoever submits that candidate to the client first ‘wins’ if that candidate is recruited. Agencies, therefore, might be working with a sense of urgency to submit CVs to the client. They may also ask if your CV has been submitted by anyone else for the same role.
How do I Select which Agencies to work with?
You should submit your CV to agencies that have a track record in your industry and your geographic area. Are they advertising for roles that are similar to what you are looking for? Call them and ask them about the roles they work and their track record. Ask if they are on the PSL for your target organisations (note not all organisations have a PSL). You decide whether to work with them or not.
Rate or Salary Negotiations
For most roles the agency has a commercial interest in your salary or contract day rate. The higher it is, the more money they make. They may therefore really help negotiate a higher salary or day rate. If they ask you not to discuss contract day rates at interview be cautious. They might be looking to pay you a lower day rate and charge the client a much higher rate to maximise their returns. You should always be able to discuss your rate with the end client.
For permanent roles, the hiring organisation will follow up your references. For contract roles, the agency will perform this activity. If an agency asks for your references very early in the recruitment process ask why. They might be fishing for new contacts to build their own client list rather than be interested in your CV.
Can the agency put me forward for roles without asking me?
They should not put your forward for roles without your permission.
The agency should keep you informed of progress if your CV has been submitted to the client. If you are invited to interview the agency should arrange the logistics for you and may also provide additional advice and interview guidance. They want you to do well. Once the interview is over the agency will follow up to collect feedback. You should always ask for interview feedback, good or bad, so ask the agency to be honest with you, particularly if you were unsuccessful. It has to be said that sometimes the agency receives very limited feedback from the hiring organisation – they could just get a “no”.