How to select the best recruitment agency

Recruitment is no longer about being bombarded by CV’s from your recruitment agency in the hope that at least one candidate may suit the bill. Thankfully, the exercise has become far more scientific. Many companies now recognize the need to acquire a recruitment agency to deal with their labour needs. Unfortunately, choosing the right recruitment agency is not a simple task. There are a plethora of agencies in the market, and choosing one can be a task on its own. Selecting the wrong agency may be just as destructive to your business as trying to do it alone and continually hiring the wrong people.

To succeed in the current economic climate it is vital to recruit and retain the very best people

There are certain criteria to check which makes it easier to choose the right recruitment agency. Firstly, not all recruiters are the same. Some specialize on specific industries and others on a particular job type. This is your first port of call when deciding on what you need. If your recruitment needs are fairly general then you can look at a broad range of agencies. However, if you are in a highly specialized industry or require someone with very specific skills it would be best to use a sector – specific agency. If you decide to opt for a specialized agency, be sure to ask for evidence that the agency has experience in that industry. For example, have they found candidates for you competitors? Has anyone in the agency worked in that industry? It is important to check whether the agency concentrates on temporary or permanent staff. Temporary staff may be a good way to solve immediate problems and may lead to a permanent position. Unfortunately there is no guarantee. Those agencies that focus on permanent staffing solutions are more attuned to each candidate’s skill sets. They can ensure they place the right person with the right company in the right position so that the candidate may be employed for a long time. It may not seem important at first, but checking on the agencies screening process could work to your advantage. Remember that you are paying for a service to save you time and money and the last thing you want to do is wade through CV’s that are not applicable or sitting through interviews with candidates who are clearly not suitable. It is also important to be sure that the agency checks references. One of the best ways to check the quality of a recruitment agency is to speak to someone within their organisation. The quality of their personnel reveals a great deal. Staff members should be up to speed on employment law that applies to you and should also ask you lots of questions to determine the skills you require. Something as simple as reading their mission statement can give you a deeper understanding of the agency. Make sure they subscribe to rigorous codes of practice and standardization and look for indicators of a commitment to high performance and ethics.

It is a good idea to look for recruiters with industry qualifications

Talking to personnel and reading the mission statement, however, is not enough since it may only be lip-service. Make sure the agency believes in professional qualifications and developing their own staff. It is a good idea to look for recruiters with industry qualifications as these consultants offer familiar with the legal, ethical and business issues and they are also trained to select and interview candidates for accurate matching. Check if previous clients have left testimonials in praise of the agency. Good recruitment agencies often have glowing sound bites from satisfied customers, and case studies from successful projects.
Make sure that the agency you choose can deliver on your needs. Recruiting a single permanent staff member is a world away from coordinating an army of temps, and their recruitment policy in each sphere should reflect this. At the end of the day, if you are still unsure invite the agency in for a sales presentation. This gives them an incentive to do their homework on your industry and opportunity to showcase it. A good performance tells you that they are committed. To succeed in the current economic climate it is vital to recruit and retain the very best people. It is just not feasible in today’s competitive market to take a chance on your staff requirements. The pundits constantly state that high labour turnover rates can be the death knell for even the most secure companies. Money spent on training and loss of productivity can be avoided if the recruitment process is given more attention and care is taken to hire the right person for the right job at the right price.

Check for expertise in your industry. The recruitment industry should understand desired qualifications and competencies and have some background in the industry

Visit their offices personally. Meet the people, check their offices and their employees and make sure they are not fly-by-nights working from a warehouse

Meet the people that will be working on your account. Try to permanently in touch with them as many agencies tend to pass their clients onto less experienced agents after initial contact has been made

Contact existing clients for references. Make sure however that the company is a credible source by doing research

Investigate the kind of support the agency offers. The way they treat their candidates and their own employees says a lot about their services

Taken from Succeed (magazine), July 2008, page 38 and 39 www.succeed