Avoiding Poor Recruitment Agencies

 18 Nov 2013

Unfortunately, due to historic (and current) malpractice by a handful of recruiters our industry does not have the reputation of say Accountancy or Law, and for that reason is largely thought of as a necessary evil by both candidates and clients.
We at Durham Professional Services would like to change this perception by offering a service that is based on quality. We work closely with our clients and candidates to determine what they would like from a recruitment service, take on board the bad experiences they have had and focus on providing satisfactory solutions.
Given the number of years we have been working at the forefront of recruitment, we have heard many horror stories along the way. As such, we have pulled together a few of the most common complaints and have provided some suggestions as to how these may be avoided in the future.
Not understanding what company’s want
Not understanding a customer’s needs can come in many forms, but often stem from a recruiter not asking the right questions, or more importantly not listening to what they are being told. This can be due to the recruiter focusing on the “sell” and being so desperate to get the role on, they have not listened to what they are being told. It can also be a reflection of the organisation, where pressure from the top has resulted in a “swashbuckling culture” forming or it may be simply due to poor training (or none at all by the agency). 
Do not despair as there are really good recruiters out there. To ensure you are working with one of the best, trust is important, as is open lines of communication. Good recruiters want to do their best for a client and as such it’s important they are treated as if they are an extension of your brand. Ensure they understand what is being tasked and form avenues which will allow for regular contact. Where possible meet recruiters face to face, this allows them to see your company and get a feel for the culture, it also allows you to see them and decide if they are the right individual and company to represent your brand.
Not understanding the role
A common complaint from companies is receiving candidates not relevant to the role (and often a lot of them). If this is the case, rest assured the recruiter has no clue as to what they are looking for and is hoping if they send enough CVs one will stick. This is NOT a good practice, it wastes the company’s time, the candidates time and just as important, the recruiter’s time. (See above for potential reasons as to why this may happen).
To minimise the risk of this happening it is best advised to call on the help of the hiring manager, or one of the team, to explain at the outset what technical tasks are required of the role and answer any questions. Once again this is best done face to face. By adopting this technique, it will also allow the Hiring Manager the opportunity to question a recruiter on their track record in this particular field as well as the current state of the market place, this in turn will let the hiring manager see if they are the right recruiters for the role.
Poor communication
A common theme in all service industries is poor communication between the parties and recruitment is no different. Clients and candidates alike have often been let down by recruiters not having or not passing on the correct information at the right time. The basis of a good relationship and strong partnership is that communication is a two way street, and that the information being passed is clear and concise.
In the recruitment industry where the recruiter is the conduit to a tri party relationship, honesty is essential. Candidates need to be honest with their recruitment agent; agencies need to ensure all parties are kept informed throughout the recruitment process and the client should provide relevant information as well as candidate feedback when they get it.
Unsuitable candidates
A huge failure in the recruitment industry is bombarding clients with irrelevant CVs. This can often be down to recruiters treating their candidates as a commodity and conducting nothing more than a simple string search of the candidate database when matching candidates to requirements. Many recruiters are too focused on the “sell” and do not listen, or don’t want to hear, what the candidate has to say. I recall one recruiter spending 10 minutes selling the opportunity and less than 1 minute listening to the candidate. Again there are many reasons for this, but quite often it is due to a recruiter being a salesperson first and a consultant second. Clients should also take some responsibility for this as a ‘CV race’ or “fastest finger first” situation can arise by working on a contingent basis with too many suppliers.
A good reputable recruitment agency will interview candidates before sending their CV to the client – if you are in doubt you should query the agency in question as to the process adopted and if indeed a candidate has been interviewed. As mentioned earlier, you should be comfortable that the agency is communicating well within the market place, after all they are representing your employer brand.
Price and contingent recruitment
In a particularly candidate driven market place, i.e. due to skills shortage or geographic location (or both) recruitment agencies play the numbers game. This means that agencies are competing against each other to get access to CVs and send them to the client in the shortest time available– this is a price focused response to a price focused market!
Many larger agencies will work across multiple assignments that may or may not deliver a result but by doing so will forfeit quality as they are purely chasing a fee. It is therefore important that clients work with agencies that will give 110% and will invest time and effort to find the best candidate, not merely the best candidate available. To determine you are working with one of these agencies, ask them to outline their approach to recruitment, the number of CVs they intend to send and in what timescale. You may find you receive only one CV, but that CV is the best candidate.


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