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What HR managers should be looking for in a recruitment agency

You may have realised that there are a LOT of recruitment agencies out there. We have too. We know it can be quite overwhelming. And we also know, as you may have experienced yourself, the quality varies greatly. These two factors combined can result in wildly differing opinions on recruitment agencies depending on which HR manager you talk to – with some going so far as to eschew ever using an agency. Which is a great shame, because a good one that knows what it’s doing can bring a huge amount of value to any organisation.

But how do you know if a recruitment agency is any good? And if they’re right for you? We’ve invested a lot of time in understanding the needs and challenges of the HR managers we work with and we’ve come up with the following list of things we think you should be looking for…

Do they understand you?

This is the number one thing you should look for in a recruitment agency. If you don’t ‘click’ with the recruiter you’re talking to, or you find yourself having to explain the same thing several times over, they’re probably not right for you. However, if you get a sense from their questions that they are genuinely taking the time and the care to understand your business then that’s a good sign. You should come away from the first conversation with a feeling you can trust them.

Do they know your industry?

Depending on the type of business you work for, a deep knowledge of the industry is often a make or break factor. Ask about the agency’s clients – if their needs sound a lot like yours then you know you’re going in the right direction. Likewise, ask about the general areas of expertise their candidates specialise in – if they align with the skills and background your company generally looks for, then this is also a positive. The better connected an agency is in your industry, the greater the chance they are right for you.

Are their candidates of a high calibre?


What you should be looking for is an agency that has a long term relationship with their candidates, not just candidates who look good on paper. Very often a CV doesn’t tell the whole story. Good recruiters will work with candidates over the duration of their career, not just for one position. Their candidates will trust them (and what they say about your company and the role) and will often be exclusive to them. You want the right agency to put forward people who are not just a match for your brief, but also your company culture, so knowing their candidates really, really well is important.

Are they responsive?

In the job market, timing is everything. An agency that is slow to respond doesn’t get this – and you should steer clear. Likewise, many agencies talk a good game on the first phone call but then you won’t hear anything from them for days and days. This means they either can’t find anyone, don’t understand you (or the role), or perhaps are too busy to focus on you as the client. Instead, if they’re frequently keeping you up to date, and talking to you about possible candidates they have, then you know you’re in good hands.

Are they durable?

This may sound like a strange point, but the truth is that many recruiters don’t last. A lot of agencies hire people on commission, or on a trial basis, and after not very long they’re out the door again. If you get someone new each time you contact them, or find yourself having to re-explain your company and requirements every time you speak to them, then that’s a red flag. You want a tight-knit team that is passionate about, and committed to, what they’re doing – just like you would in your own company.

In conclusion…

Don’t expect to find the right recruitment agency straight away. Trust won’t come overnight but a good agency will be keen to demonstrate their worth. Contact a few. Have several conversations. You should see your relationship with an agency as a partnership more than a service, and this requires a modicum of patience and willingness to give it a chance. Over time, the right agency will become better at understanding you and your business’s needs…which will lead to some excellent hires.

At PA Business Support, we try and focus on the long term development and goals of your business. We take the time to get to know you, and we won’t put someone forward unless we’re 100% sure their worth your time. If you’d like to know more, or just simply want to have a chat to get a sense of who we are and how we work, then give us a call!

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A bespoke approach to Executive & Personal Assistant recruitment in London & Internationally
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