The dos and don’ts of working with a recruitment agency

When you build a good relationship with your recruitment agency it makes life a lot easier! My aim is to try and build great relationships that with everyone I work with, it takes effort and sometimes patience but the benefits of truly integrating with an agency or consultant are vast:

  • Fewer but better quality candidates submitted for your roles
  • Access to candidates that aren’t actively looking
  • Your organisation and leadership style promoted above others
  • Less time spent reading through CVs and cover letters
  • Insight into market trends, salaries and sector knowledge
  • Support on how to best manage your process and offer
  • Less time interviewing unsuitable candidates just to fill slots
  • Working with someone you actually like and who cares about your organisation

There are some key things to do or to avoid doing when working with your agency to ensure you get the best out of them.


  • Meet with them before – You should want to work with an agency that wants to meet with you even if you don’t have a job. This time together will mean that they know, what you are trying to build and when you need them to will place people that match your plans.
  • Brief them on each role – Even if it is just for 10 minutes. They will understand the role better and as such send you better CVs, saving you time.
  • Provide honest feedback – On CVs and interviews. This will help them learn what you like, it’s sometimes difficult to be negative but the agency would rather hear it and hone their search.
  • Keep the process concise – Make sure you shortlist within a week of the deadline for applications, that interviews are within a week of each other and that feedback is within two days of an interview.  If you let a process drag on you will lose candidates.
  • Be proactive – If you can see candidates for coffee to keep them engaged with a process do so. Let your agency guide you on what is needed.
  • Offer what is required – If the agency clearly tells you what salary the candidate is looking for at submission stage, offer that salary. Candidates are often offended by offers below their expectations.
  • Have high expectations – Expect an agency to want a relationship with you, it may be a coffee or lunch once a year, or they may see a news article about your charity and pop you a quick message. Your agency is meant to care about you and if they don’t care enough to get in touch when you aren’t recruiting, they aren’t worth working with when they are.


  • Continue to work with an agency that sends you bad quality candidates – You deserve better, it’s normally a sign they haven’t understood or listened.
  • Go to four different agencies – You think they will all find different people but most likely they will all be speaking to the same candidates and it doesn’t look good for your brand.
  • Try to speak to candidates directly – If you need something or want to speak to a candidate just let the agency know and they will pass on the details. Transparency between everyone is key and so is trust.

The days of a standoffish relationship with your recruitment agency are gone, you need to work together to get the best people into your business in this competitive environment.