The Million Pound Question

How do you decide which recruitment consultant to use when there are so many? Surely they all do the same thing and will achieve the same outcome for you, right?  

As a prospective candidate, with more and more agents popping up left, right and centre all claiming they do the same thing - how do you decide which consultant you’re going to engage with and trust to provide you with information and advice that is relevant to yourself and your individual situation?

That unfortunately, is the million dollar question or at least you’d think so when you see the amount of people complaining about recruitment consultants as a result of bad experiences.

It seems that in many cases, people/prospective candidates are of the opinion that irrelevant of which recruiter they deal with – they’ll get the same results because all agents are the same and they simply have a long list of email addresses, pick up your CV, send it out and hope for the best, which I’m sure you can understand is a bit pot luck, as it isn’t targeted in any way, shape or form and can’t be influenced and in all honesty, you could’ve done that yourself if you took the time.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of consultants that operate in a spray and pray manner but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consultants who operate in the right way.

However, I believe to do this, they need to possess the following attributes: 

  • Good knowledge and understanding of their market – Who on earth would trust a recruitment consultant of all people to assist them with their career if they can’t even hold a conversation with you about your sector or enlighten you on the market place?

Without knowledge of the market/sector, I find it hard to believe that they are able to suggest suitable opportunities or future employers to you.

  • Relationships with decision makers – Having a director/line managers email address or phone number does not count as having a relationship with them.

Think about it – how many agents do you realistically believe decision makers pay attention too, bearing in mind they receive, in some cases, 100’s of calls and emails per day from unrecognized sources? 

  • Communication skills – This is a topic which really does aggravate me, in all honesty. The amount of candidates I’ve spoken too in the past that’ve engaged with the recruitment consultant and never heard anything since.

I believe that if you engage with an individual, they deserve to be kept up to date from start to finish - positive or negative; they need and deserve to know of feedback, rejections, positive feedback, interview requests, interview feedback etc.

It’s really not hard but then again, without the relationships, how will they be able to gain any of the above for you?

  • Compassion – Many recruitment consultants find it really hard to sympathise with prospective candidates and sometimes forget that it’s not their decision to make whether they make a move, accept an offer, go to an interview, move next month etc. It’s their own life; and therefore they’re entitled to make their own decisions! 

I’m sure most people have all been at a stage in their life where a career decision has to be made and it’s not always a straight forward decision. The last thing you need is unnecessary pressure and biased input from a recruitment consultant who has their next pay cheque in mind.

However, after all of this, I do believe there are good recruitment consultants out there who go about things in the right way and can really add value to a candidates search – you just need to establish who these consultants are and avoid engaging with others. 

I would personally advise that prospective candidates grill recruitment consultants on their process before engaging with them so that you fully understand who you’re working with and how they operate.

You should be looking to find out who they know, what they know about the sector, what they know about the market, the process they are going to follow, why they believe their suggested employers would be suitable for yourself etc. before they give the green light to get started!

I expect that as a result we would see a huge fall in complaints about recruitment consultants because the useless “consultants” would no longer be entertained.

Nathan Benham

Tel: +44 (0)2382 025 310