How I would select a Recruitment Agency?

The intention to hire permanent staff was at a record high last month; so many hiring managers may be considering using recruitment agencies to ease the pressure of filling seats.  But how do you select the right one? The options are endless and I’m sure you’ve been bombarded with leaflets, phone calls and emails telling you to “pick me!” but take a step back and some time to work out what you really need and if the agencies meet your needs.

For me, I have highlighted four main categories which are important and may help inspire your own list.


I want a recruitment agency that shares the same values as me.  The same approach to striving for the best and a can do attitude that gets the results I require. I want to be able to trust them and feel confident that they are doing everything they can to help support me and make the process easier so it takes a load off my shoulders. The best way to find this out is to ask clients about their experiences, and read up on reviews and testimonials, what did they do that was above and beyond the norm? And, I want to work with someone who is easily accessible that I get on with.

Price & Quality

I would want to understand clearly what the price includes, no one likes hidden fees or to find out it’s “extra for that” without being told initially. Some companies, not wishing to insult anyone, will take a job spec, throw it up on the job boards and wait from candidates to come to them, whilst others will take the time to sit with you, find out what is needed and learn who would be good fit within the organisation for the long-term. They will head hunt and actively go out looking for the perfect match. I want them to go the extra mile and feel like I’m getting a service. They also understand that, for whatever reason, placements do not always work out, and offer some sort or guarantee and action plan if this was to occur.

Remember that cheap does not always mean best. If you sacrifice quality over price it may cost you more in the long run in terms of wasted time, lost opportunity and miss-hires!


It is important that you work with an agency that has the capability to understand what you need. It is becoming increasingly rare to find one agency that can cover all of your needs – Unlikely the agency who supplies you administration staff is going to be great at producing a specialist software engineer.

The best (some would say only) way of really checking if an agent can do what they say they can is to get case studies and possibly even take up references. This will demonstrate where they have done it before in similar circumstances.

Some information I tell the recruitment agency may be confidential, again this comes back to trust, making sure the details are correct and going to the right places. Does the company get all the information needed to be able to do their job well and where is this information stored?  If I haven’t been clear or missed something will they help me to provide them with the details they need. I want the agency’s processes to be clear and know what they are doing so nothing is left unturned.

Trade Association

I believe being part of trade associations is often overlooked. It is in my list because if a company is a member it allows the company to keep up with trends, legislations and constantly changing markets.  If I am using an agency I want them to tell me what’s happening within the industry now and not find out when it may be too late. You want to select a company that is the first to know everything, ahead of the game and can influence decisions within the industry.

Further, agencies will need to maintain a certain level of quality for them to gain membership to trade agencies. Although not a guarantee, you have a better chance of achieving a quality orientated approach.

Doing your research can be of great benefit and a time saver in the long run.  There may be other categories that your company wants to consider, such as the size of the company or niche, so work out what is a priority to you. If you have any other thoughts I would love to hear them, what experiences have you had (good or bad) with agencies.