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How to select a recruitment agency that suits your individual needs

employer advice, hiring advice, recruitment...

Many companies are revisiting their recruitment plans and are asking how to pick the right recruiter to suit their business needs. As there are nearly 40,000recruitment agencies in the UK to choose from, this is a very valid question and requires some consideration. 

Before diving in, however, there are some initial considerations to make before you start your research into specific recruitment agencies.

Should I use a recruitment agency?

Many organisations may have an internal hiring manager in HR that handles recruitment, but there are still many reasons why outsourcing hiring processes to a recruiter can be useful:

  • Recruitment consultants have specialised market knowledge

  • They have deep networks of active and passive candidates for a wider search function

  • They can reduce the hiring process time significantly

  • They reduce the likelihood of a bad (and therefore expensive) hiring choice

  • They have access to digital recruiting platforms and advertising channels to increase visibility, generally at no extra cost

If you’re hiring that generally means you have a skills deficit that needs to be filled and filled quickly. Choosing to use a recruitment agency will save you time and money in finding the ideal candidate and skill set to support your business. 

How do recruitment agencies work?

There are many different ways that recruitment agencies function, but most agencies offer:

  • Candidate sourcing and analysis of skills

  • Candidate acquisition through job boards, LinkedIn Recruiter licenses, job aggregators and CV databases

  • Preliminary interviews, screening , shortlisting and referencing

  • Consultancy services on salary and remuneration trends, how to write a job specification, how to interview, and how to onboard effectively

4 steps to choosing the right recruitment agency for your business needs:

Step 1: Outline your hiring needs 

Surprisingly, outlining your hiring needs is the first step to finding the right recruitment agency. This involves working out how many hires you need to make, what position(s) are you looking to fill and at what level (executive level etc.), on a permanent, interim or temporary basis, and what kind of skills would be most suitable.

It’s important to remember within your wider workforce planning, that you need not hire like-for-like when hiring for a departing employee. A recruitment consultant can help you streamline exactly what is required for your future hire, the availability of skills and experience on the market, and specific considerations for your company and role. 

Once you have outlined your needs and built up a specification or even profile of the ideal candidate, you can use these to filter your search for recruitment agencies.

Step 2: Start your search

Making sure you pick a recruiter who specialises in your industry, sector or profession will ensure that they are able to find the most viable candidates with the most appropriate skill sets to help your business develop and grow. Recruitment agencies can specialise in industry type, job levels, or even in temporary, contract or interim recruitment.

At this point you should consider whether you will engage a recruiter on a contingency, retained or exclusive basis. 

Contingency recruitment:

While contingency recruitment – where the fee is paid upon placement of the candidate in the role – may be tempting as it means you can use multiple agencies with minimal risk, it may not yield you the best candidates. As recruiters know you are working with multiple agencies, their chances of making the placement decrease and so too does the time they’re able to dedicate to the search.

Retained search:

Retained search, in contrast, is generally employed for executive-level appointments where a percentage of the fee is paid upfront to engage the recruiter to conduct a full market map and research, then effectively ‘head hunting’ the right executive for the role. While most effective, it may be less desirable for junior or mid-level hires.

Exclusive recruitment: 

Exclusive recruitment, however, enables you to work with a single recruiter – even if exclusive for only one to two weeks – to seek out the best talent for your role. As the recruiter has a higher likelihood of placement, he/she is able to dedicate more time and resources to the role – and get you a better candidate than having multiple recruiters on the job. This also saves you time as you have one point of contact who can screen candidates and provide you a shortlist tailored to your unique requirements. 

Step 3: Screening and consultations

Once you’ve identified your recruitment partner(s), contact them to ask for a consultation to allow you to assess and screen them further. Most recruitment agencies will offer a free initial consultation to help you assess their ability to source the right talent for you. 

At this stage you can check their pricing and fees, find out more information about their expertise and experience with similar organisations or placements, and find out about their timeframes and methodology.

You can verify their services by looking at their candidate and client testimonials, social media and even check them on 

One of the benefits of finding the right recruiter for your organisation is that you can build a relationship over time through repeat usage. This means that agency will be more attune to your needs and will even be able to advise on what kind of candidate profile would help build your teams.Their search methods will be quicker as they will have a deeper understanding of your processes and can even perform screening, pre-interviewing and background checks on your behalf. Putting in the time to do your research will save you time and money in the long run!

At Edward Mann, our database and deep network we are able to source high-calibre temporary, contract or permanent candidates to suit the specific needs of your business to make sure you have the talent you need to grow. We also have the expertise to help you define your recruiting needs, advise on interviewing technique, source quality temporary or interim staff and can assess their experience and skills effectively and quickly to help you streamline your recruiting process. 

Find out how we can help