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Looking for a new recruit? How to make recruiters work for you!

By Julian Smith, Director, I Am Recruiting.

The recruitment industry doesn’t have an equivalent of the ‘Magic Circle’, so I’m not likely to be struck off or disbarred, but I am hoping to be cold-shouldered by my less ethical peers within the sector as I attempt to lift the lid on an industry not widely known for best practice. So be it; bring it on!

Let’s face it, mine is a sector which is not exactly highly thought of. The barriers to entry are pretty low, and if you have a pulse and a couple of brain cells, many agencies will give you a shot at working for them – and over the years I’ve met people who I wouldn’t trust to pick me out a sandwich, let alone find me new staff, yet they’re happily manning a desk, and in charge of high-profile accounts and the future destinies of thousands…

Recruitment has a reputation which sits up there with real estate in terms of honesty and transparency, but I’d like to help you get the most out of a recruiter.

As a client, you are paying for a service, and it needs to be money well spent. Without your business, the recruiter can have as many fantastic candidates as possible, but they’re worth nothing unless he or she has jobs for them. Remember, since you’re paying for a service, you can reasonably ask the following of a recruiter:


Negotiation on fees: before you start, is the agency offering a fair rate? Any agency who charges in excess of 20% should be IMMEDIATELY written off. Don’t sign terms which allow the agency to claim a further fee in year 2 – and check what the maximum fee you should be paying for a role is. Never accept the status quo, when it comes to fees and contracts – and feel free to call or email me if you think that something my competitors are doing isn’t quite right…


Help with a job or person specification: if you’re having difficulty filling a role, maybe something needs tweaking, such as the salary, title, person specification, etc. A good recruiter will be able to advise you what you need to do to find the right candidate.


Interviewing candidates: has the recruiter interviewed all of the candidates? If not, why not? There may be perfectly reasonable explanations where face-to-face hasn’t been possible, such as time pressures, or logistical/geographical reasons but, before you see the candidates, ask for the recruiter’s thoughts on each one. Why exactly are they putting them forward for the role?


Assistance on the day: if I’m working on a vacancy on a sole-agency basis, I should be an extension to your organisation. So I, or somebody else in my team, will be there to help you interview, to greet or to shuffle candidates between rooms if necessary. I can even arrange for you to recruit at my office, should you prefer. Will your recruiter do this? If not, why not?


Negotiating offers: You should be able to trust a recruiter to secure the candidate at the optimum salary level for both them and your organisation – and not just suppose that the recruiter will talk up the salary, to increase his or her fee. We often cap our fees at a certain salary level, where a candidate is looking for a higher salary, and you should ask your recruiter if they are willing to do the same.


Chasing references, etc.: Since you shouldn’t pay an agency until the candidate starts, you might want to use them to chase up references on your behalf, especially if your organisation doesn’t have a dedicated human resource administrative function. Ensure, however, that the agency declares any conflict of interest (apart from the obvious) up front, and also ensure that referees’ replies are sent directly to you…


If you think you’re being played by your recruiter, get in touch – and I promise I’ll tell you what you should or should not expect from them. I’ll be blunt and to the point, and won’t stick up for the profession, unless I genuinely feel that your recruiter is doing the best by you. Ethical recruiters, you have nothing to fear from us – in fact, you might even want to join us! Why not send me your CV, to julian@iamenterprises.co.uk or call 020 7148 6749 for an informal chat!


Looking for that perfect new recruit? For more details about our recruitment services, and a confidential chat about how we might be able to help, please contact Julian Smith, on 07966 939 145 or julian@iamenterprises.co.uk

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