10 Things to Consider before Selecting your Recruitment Partner

Posted by Red Tree on 03/09/13 in Advice & Tips, Job Announcements

Having worked in and run Recruitment Companies for a while and based on what I believe “what clients want” or more importantly “what clients should expect” from a Recruitment Company, below are my Top 10 Things to consider before that important decision in selecting a Recruitment Company for your business or recruitment project (Whether it’s for one or multiple or ongoing vacancies)

1.    Specialist! Specialist! Specialist!

The single most important criteria. Make sure your Recruitment Partner is a specialist in the chosen field(s) you are recruiting for. If you are recruiting for specific niche position(s), experienced specialist recruiters will be well connected and can quickly reach out to relevant candidates. Result is quality candidates and ‘time to hire’ is dramatically reduced.They will have quick access to high caliber candidates (active and passive) in the specific area or profession. They will also regularly give you excellent ‘market’ intelligence and can state with authority whether you are behind/in-front of the market when it comes to pay and bonus levels etc. Stay clear of larger ‘generalist’ recruitment companies. (Specialists also have access to candidates that can be a huge asset to your organisation without having a formal job opening)

2.    Consultants Qualities: Experience/Qualifications/Ability/Trust/Maturity

This Recruitment Company/Consultant is potentially going out to the market on YOUR behalf to recruit for you – ensure they have the relevant experience and if it is a senior/executive hire, make sure they have the requisite gravitas and ability to speak to and deal with senior candidates. Maturity – The best Recruitment Consultants have had previous careers in business (particularly in the sector they recruit for) and therefore can talk with credibility when speaking to and advising candidates and companies. Some questions to ask would be;

How long have they been recruiting in a specific market or sector?

What did you do before you became a Recruitment Consultant?

Tip:  Generally steer away from Consultants that have not had previous ‘real-life’ business experience.

3.     How do THEY operate/behave as a Business?

Promise the sun moon and stars, as nice as pie when they meet you in your offices but what happens when they go back to their office? Ensure the Recruitment Company you engage with does not operate an internal metric/KPI approach to recruitment. This ‘numbers’ based approach is a ‘race to the bottom’ and results in poor CVs and poor service. Under the pressure of internal metrics and Management, some Recruitment Consultants feel the need to send out CVs for the sake of it to keep their numbers up. Again, here maybe ask them about ‘THEIR’ work environment as this will give you an indication of the quality of service you will expect to receive. 

If you are finding that the flow of quality candidates is slow, clued-in recruiters will actually take it upon themselves to tell you what you think you are looking for is nigh on non-existent and will help to re-engineer the job brief to ensure a successful outcome.

Tip: Try to engage with companies that genuinely take a consultative, non-metric approach to recruitment. It’s too critical to your business not to.

4.     It’s YOUR BRAND – Protect It!

Remember, whomever you choose will be an extension of your brand in the marketplace. Ensure you are comfortable with how they will represent you when they are speaking to the market.

Good Recruiters are like free Marketers/Promoters for your Business, being positive and telling the market audience about how great your company is.

5.      LEGIT? – Are they a Legal Entity/Authorized to Trade?

Often forgotten by companies, but ensure your recruitment Partner has an up to date Recruitment Licence (it is illegal in Ireland to operate without one) and has a Company Registration Number (CRO) and VAT Number. Ask for copies of these!

6.     Sometimes Things Go Wrong – Refund/Guarantee Period

Most reputable Recruitment Companies offer a guarantee period in case a placement does not work out. Let’s face it, sometimes things just don’t work out for a multitude of reasons, so I would suggest you ask them to guide you through how this guarantee operates should a placement not work out and what remedies are in place? Sometimes, how a recruitment supplier behaves during this time really separates them from the rest.

7.     2-Way Street – Engage with Each other

To gain real tangible value with your selected Recruitment Partner, try to be open with them, e.g. if they ask to speak to the hiring manager and it is relevant and particularly at an advanced stage of a critical hire, encourage and facilitate this. Try to give regular feedback. A relationship that starts out this way will be very beneficial to your organisation. I can guarantee this flexibility and openness will result in better, quality candidates being presented to you.  Once a recruiter feels that there is a ‘real’ relationship and traction (even with speculative candidates), you will be their first port of call for the best candidates they get. Remember you could be one candidate away from getting a candidate that could transform your business and bottom line or an introduction to a contact or business that leads to a Merger or Acquisition or increase in market share. SIMPLES


So, what else can Recruitment Company do for you? Ok, so a Recruitment Company only recruits when you have an actual need? Of course, but some recruitment companies offer other real-value added services such as;

Talent-Mapping/Outsourcing/Non-Executive Directors, Merger & Acquisition, Interim, Training, Competitor Intelligence etc. Just ask them! Some of these services can give your business a real competitive edge.

 9.     Review Performance

Regularly review performance against agreed realistic and achievable criteria.

Be open and honest with each other if there needs to be a change from either party, well do it and move on. If it isn’t working out and change is not on ‘their’ agenda then say thank you and walk away.

10. Fees – Yes, I am putting this last!

Costs should be last thing you look at when selecting a recruitment Partner.

Now, I know this is an obvious, major consideration for a lot of companies, but in my experience, once all the above is cleared, discussions on fees normally look after themselves and both parties start working on a mutually beneficial relationship. Of course it is important to have terms of business in place and both sides are aware of their obligations to each other. However, if you think of it, costs (apart from Executive Search) are only going to fall due upon successful delivery by the Recruitment Company.

Also reasonable, practical thinking recruitment companies will base their fee-structure on the size of a company and ability to pay. So if you are a start up or small company, you should expect/demand a lower fee than if you are a global multi-national. In these situations, avoid companies that refuse to even countenance a discussion on fees, they are living on a planet, far, far away! Smart recruitment companies understand that as your business grows so will theirs.

So, in summary, a good recruitment company can really help your company grow, provide you with key market information, help you build market share and break into new markets and the good ones are always there should you need them at any time, day or night. Oh, and they recruit great people for your business too.


Eamonn O’Reilly,

Managing Director, Red Tree Recruitment