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The use of a recruitment agency to assist in finding the right staff to employ is very well developed in the UK and is an industry worth about 24.5 billion pounds annually. Over 10,000 agencies exist and like any diverse industry, agencies come in all shapes and sizes.
One of the main attractions of using an agency is that they normally operate on a "no win - no fee" basis. This is highly attractive for employers, as it represents a "low risk" method of recruitment.
As well as assistance in recruiting permanent members of staff, some agencies also provide staff on a "contract" basis, where an employer can employ a candidate "through" an agency. Although this can be a relatively expensive way of employing long term candidates, it provides a high degree of flexibility to cover short term demands. Some agencies operate a "temp to perm" arrangement, where a candidate who is taken on a temporary contract can be recruited as a permanent member of staff. Agencies will often offer a discount for this type of transfer, dependent upon the amount of time that the candidate has been "temping" through the agency.
Points to consider when selecting agencies to work on your behalf:
1Spend time researching the most appropriate agencies to use for your recruitment requirements. Some agencies operate on a National basis, others specialise in particular industries, skills or geographic coverage.
2The terms and conditions that each agency operates under varies, so ensure that you have agreed the terms and conditions of engagement BEFORE you recruit.
3Give the agency as much detail as possible on your requirements. This will help the agency narrow down the type of candidate you are looking for and so provide you with a better service. As a minimum, you should be able to provide the agency with the following: Job Role, Location, Salary & Benefits, Job Description (or if possible, a full job specification), Start Date and Interview process. Some agencies also like to visit a client site, prior to taking on a role. This assists the agency in describing the company to a potential employee.
4Ensure that you communicate to the agency when you are available for interviews, preferably giving alternative time slots in order to be flexible.
5Many agencies will have a good understanding of the salary expectations of candidates in a particular job role and area. Some agencies also have access to salary surveys. Use this information to ensure that you are paying the correct rate for the job.
6Many agencies Pre-Screen and Interview candidates prior to submitting them forward for interview. This helps reduce the amount of time the customer has to spend on interviewing non-relevant candidates. Some agencies will cover a candidate with references and research any breaks/lapses in employment.
7Agencies very often have access to several different sources of candidates. This will normally include their own in-house database of candidates and commercially available CV databases (e.g. www.vacancycentral.co.uk). They may also advertise jobs on jobsites and their own websites. Some agencies that operate locally may also have a shop-front premises, which they use to advertise local jobs and attract candidates who walk by their office. Magazines and local press advertising is also used to attract relevant applicants.
9In some instances, where relevant candidates are particularly hard to find, the agency may suggest running some "client paid" advertising (i.e. in relevant trade journals, etc). This advertising will be specific to the discipline that you are recruiting for and may mention your company, as well as the agency's name. A percentage of the cost will sometimes be rebated from the final placement fee, should a candidate be recruited through that particular agency...
9Ensure that you keep the agency involved in every step of the recruitment process, especially once you have selected the candidate that you plan to employ. This prevents any breakage in communication.
10Provide honest feedback on a candidates performance during the interview. Remember that honest and constructive feedback is beneficial for both candidate and agency, plus it will assist in managing the expectations of all parties.
11Some agencies operate a feedback mechanism, to allow you to rate the performance of the agency and your contact within the agency. Recruitment consultants are sometimes rewarded for providing good customer service, so use the feedback mechanism to reward consultants that provide a good service.
12Some agencies may ask for testimonials from customers who are happy with their services. This may be used to show to other clients, or display on their websites.
13Agencies will often offer a form of "rebate" for candidates who leave within a specific time from their start date. This can vary from either a free or reduced charge replacement, or a rebate of part of the recruitment fee charged. This will be indicated in the agencies "Terms of Business".
14Many larger employers who use agencies on a regular basis set up Preferred Supplier Lists (PSLs). These offer various benefits in service and/or price, in return for a commitment of business.
15REMEMBER that the cheapest is not necessarily the best. Consider the overall package on offer. Quality of candidates, rebate terms, candidate replacement terms, personal checks, candidate filtering, psychometric testing, salary advice, on-site interviewing facilities, etc can all be valuable services that go towards providing a effective recruitment solution.
16The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) is the body representing the recruitment industry and has over 7,000 Corporate and 5,000 Individual members. They publish a "Code of Good Recruitment Practice", which has been developed to ensure that jobseekers and employers receive the highest recruitment standards.