Recruitment Agencies – If you think it’s time to stop using them, maybe you have been using the wrong ones

Recruitment Agencies – If you think it’s time to stop using them, maybe you have been using the wrong ones

I have recently read an article titled: It’s time to stop using recruitment agencies which has sparked real debate amongst recruiter and anyone who may have used them. Some of the points within this article are actually pretty valid to the vast majority of recruiters but broad generalisations suggest that all agencies are the same, which is simply not the case.

I will follow the same structure as the article in question in the hope that some of those reading this feel it ‘balances’ the equation!

I am 32 years old and have been working in recruitment since university. In that time, I have worked for both large and frankly more KPI driven recruitment entities and for the last 7 years for a boutique accountancy / finance recruiter. I recruit roles of all levels from finance graduates to directors so come into contact with a very broad range of candidates. I have also hired, trained and led teams and have a client base which spans from FTSE100 entities through to £10m t/o businesses so I feel comfortable offering my views in this area.

I receive on average 200 new job applications on a daily basis and am tasked with finding the best possible individuals for my client base. As a result of this I, like many others in the recruitment world, am not always able to contact everyone back.  One click applications (an article we published some time ago) have made the application process almost too easy, with many irrelevant applicants simply trying their luck with little thought of their relevance to a particular role.

I am pleased to say that I do not have a 10 point check list to assess suitability but I am very selective about who I put in front of my clients as ultimately it is my personal reputation and that of the brand I represent that is on the line. I completely agree that personality and drive are critical behaviours which cannot be assessed on a piece of paper which is why it’s refreshing when a candidate picks up the phone to follow up their application and demonstrates this to me.

I would also like to re-assure potential candidates that the vetting process I undertake when meeting an individual for a role is very thorough, something I hope both my clients and candidates I have worked with would testify to. My clients have an expectation that more often than not, I am delivering to them exactly what they want or will certainly understand why the person I have recommended they meet is sitting in front of them! Recruiters that do not do this will most likely not be able to forge a meaningful career in the industry and will have limited success.

I am lucky enough to be surrounded by a team of talented consultants most of whom now have several years experience, however graduates in any profession have to learn their trade somewhere and this is the same across all professions. People make mistakes at all levels and this is how we learn and improve. If no one gave trainees or graduates a chance there would be some major issues across all skilled employment.

“It’s now in its final stages and at second interview stage”
“that position is now on hold”

These are frustrating statements for anyone to be told and yes sometimes we do continue to advertise when roles are at second stage, primarily because there is never a guarantee that a second stage interview leads to a successful placement and so further options may well be required. If a candidate comes through at this stage who I feel is strong or comparable to those I have submitted, I would not hesitate to recommend my client meets them but I would not do this if I was not very confident this would be the case. Doing so would only slow down a process and waste the recruiting managers time.

I operate an honest approach to anyone’s application, if I am called by a candidate and asked why I have not called them or do not feel they are relevant then I will tell them, be honest and specific! If they are then able to provide me with a compelling case as to why they think this is not the case and I am impressed, I am not stubborn enough not to change my mind.

Consistent CV formatting is a good thing; it provides clients with a very easy way to look through CV’s and compare candidates, along with the thorough notes I would provide from meeting with that individual. If a client would like to view the original, I am always happy to provide it.

Ultimately with tools like LinkedIn providing a more transparent business network, local employers and multinational blue chips are now able to focus on reducing cost per hire. This is a good thing and many of these businesses are hugely successful at doing so!

So why will the agency model continue

In-house teams want to have partnerships with consultancies who can provide them with high calibre talent, particularly where they are managing multiple assignments and become very stretched themselves. Agencies have the time and resources to dedicate themselves to sourcing both active and passive talent for a particular role which can only be complimentary to a direct sourcing approach.

Most high calibre candidates don’t have the time to research multiple companies in sometimes large geographic areas and so want to use a consultancy who can brief them on relevant opportunities at their level and introduce them to organisations that fit them from a skills and cultural perspective.

The most successful recruitment model in my view is one where companies use the best combination of tools they have to find the best talent for their business and this should include direct sourcing, credible agency / consultancies and head-hunters where required.

There will always be short cuts in every service based industry; the cowboys, the dodgy salesman and the pseudo city boys! My view is that there will always be a role for the high calibre, dedicated recruiter whose approach is to focus on, quality, fit and long term outcomes.


The most important question clients should ask themselves is: Which agencies compliment our brand, bring us the best people and help us develop our business as a result?

Potential candidates should ask themselves: which agency will represent me in the best possible light and who do I feel will provide me the most relevant, targeted and appropriate opportunities in the locations I am prepared to work?