Feedback and Rewards

How to be a Good Client of a Recruitment Agency

Matthew Kimberley asked:

If you’re polite to your waiter, you’ll get better service. If you smile at the receptionist, you might get a cup of coffee. If you’re hiring staff through a recruitment agency, the experience will be better for everybody if you put some of the following suggestions into practice:

1. Don’t work with the world (”limit your love”)

If you work with 20 agencies, you will have to do ten times more work than if you work with two. You’ll receive ten times more CVs to read. Some may be duplicates. Some will be unsuitable. You will still only hire one person.

Recruiters who know they are up against lots of competition tend to work faster. And less fastidiously. Too much competition for your business means you’ll be lower down the list of priorities. Too little competition engenders laxness. Two to three agencies is optimal.

(Get specialists in your domain working on your vacancies.)

2. Make your expectations clear

You should have a job description written down. If you’re looking for a very specific technical profile to do a very specific job, that might be only five lines (”CCNA certified, must have performed this exact task at least twice before in similar-sized companies”).

A good recruiter will always have questions. It’s your duty to answer them. That way the blame lies squarely with the agency when they don’t provide you with somebody with the “absolutely-must-haves”. The agency can manage your expectations better, the clearer you make them.

3. Trust your agency.

A professional recruiter understands that a resume only tells half the story. If you trust your agency, which you absolutely should, you’ll read their introduction and interview notes more carefully than the CV itself.

Nobody wants to do “one-shot” business. Believe it or not, we (or most of us) have your best interests at heart. If you love us, you’ll come back to us, and maybe even recommend us to your friends and colleagues.

“Sorry, I can’t help you with this specific role, but I know just the person who can” means just that. It doesn’t mean “I’m not a good recruiter”. Reward integrity with opportunity.

4. Open (and direct) lines of communication

If your company has a policy of funnelling agency contact through HR, a central purchasing office or a contract management office, make an exception for the three agencies who are working on your live vacancies.

If you don’t, you’ll end up as a frustrated messenger, caught between the agency asking for feedback, and the managers who won’t give it to you. The candidates will hear that “my client isn’t giving me feedback” and not think very much of you.

(Why wouldn’t the hiring manager want to talk to the person directly responsible for finding the best person for their team?)

5. Prompt and useful feedback

Part one: see above.

“Not a good fit for our needs” is not useful feedback. Working on the assumption that you trust the agency you’re working with to help you out, reciprocal help is, er, helpful.

If you don’t know why the candidate has been rejected by the hiring manager, refer to step 4.

(Should you be working in hiring IT contractors or freelancers, prompt is understood to be 48-72 hours maximum).

6. Payment terms?

Don’t let the accounts department sour your up-until-now-excellent relationship.

Be nice – a lot of us are quite small.

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