How to get the most from your recruitment agency

Here, James Calder, CEO of Distinct Recruitment, guides us on how to get the most out of your recruitment agency.

With a record number of new recruitment businesses registered in 2016 – and this trend set to continue in 2017 – it’s crucial that agencies stand out against the crowd in this competitive marketplace by providing an outstanding service to clients.

We need to be working not just for the employer, but also for the candidate, giving the same level of care that an in-house recruiter would, improving the overall hiring experience and ensuring the employing brand becomes renowned for its positive and seamless recruitment process.

The best agency-employer partnerships are just that, partnerships; where both parties take steps to ensure that the other can produce, and receive, a service of the highest quality.

Agencies can do the best for their clients if they work with the client rather than for the client. Here are 3 pointers on how to do just that, and get the most from your recruitment agency:

Move away from contingency

More and more agencies are now finding themselves having to compete on time and costs with others in the industry, all while delivering this fantastic, all-round service – due to the contingent model of business that is gaining in popularity with both agencies, and their clients.

The contingent model forces agencies to race against each other to be the first to present the client with a list of candidates and therefore receive payment. So if there are 10 agencies in this ‘race’, then eight or nine of these agencies will not receive payment for their work on this project because they have not been first over the finishing line.

In this race to present the list of candidates first, the focus can be placed on speed rather than quality – because quality doesn’t always earn in the contingent model. It’s therefore difficult for agencies to provide a bespoke service to each and every client if they’re working on a contingent basis.

To give a specific example, the incredibly competitive nature of the contingent model can also affect the quality of adverts created by agencies, who will be reluctant to explicitly state who they are recruiting for in their adverts, because this would enable competitors to go after the same work.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. At Distinct Recruitment, we recommend that our clients work with us on either an exclusive or retainer basis. Both of these models provide financial reassurance to the recruitment agency, and therefore ensure the high quality of the resource intensive work that is returned back to the client.

Choose exclusive or retainer

The decision to work on an exclusive basis is a win-win situation for agency and client; if an agency has it in writing that their client will be working only with them on a project, it is able to place more resource into producing a high-quality service for that client, without the risk of losing money.

Working on a retained basis used to mean 3 or 5 staged payments and was reserved for challenging, niche and often senior roles. Today, the benefits for the client are more focused around ensuring they receive the best level of service and, ultimately, fill their jobs with minimal hassle and guaranteed delivery. For example, at Distinct, our retained service involves paying a small amount of money on commencement with us guaranteeing that we will fill the vacancy.

Our clients can be safe in the knowledge that not only will their role be filled but they won’t have to take their focus away from their day job to deal with numerous agencies or consultants pitching for their business. In simple terms if you want to guarantee delivery, engage an agency on an exclusive, retained basis.

Select the specialist

Finally, clients should do their research when choosing a consultant to manage their recruitment. Be sure to pick a specialist consultant who has strong experience of recruiting into the discipline they’re looking to recruit in, rather than going with a generalist agency. Seek references, ask for testimonials from previous clients and examples of recent similar projects.

James Calder is CEO of Distinct Recruitment

Further reading on finding a recruitment agency

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Freddie Halvorson

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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