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5 things a business needs to look for in a recruitment agency

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Think that through and the resonance becomes increasingly obvious. The consultancy has to offer what the client company needs. The match should be seamless. Looking at it from the employer, or client’s, point of view I think the five crucial things to identify are these.

1. Sound finances

If you’re going to pay good money to a recruitment consultancy you need to know your cash is not going to disappear into the black hole of fragile cash flow. It will be the consultancy who pay the media to place your advertising. The company can only do that if it has good credit, and sound financial relationships.

Be honest, you’re not going to pay a consultancy until the job is done and you’ve had a invoice for 30 days. The company will have to have paid out before that. Not just to the media. If you’re asking them to find temporary staff for instance they may have to pay them wages before you pay their bill. Their cash flow is their problem, but if they’re not properly financed it could cause you grief.

As in “sorry – your jobs didn’t get posted because we couldn’t pay the job board’s invoice”.

2. Reliable systems

t’s not the sexiest part of modern recruitment, but it’s important. Leave aside the strategies and employer branding for the moment and consider this. Even in our digital age, any busy recruitment agency is going to be processing thousands of applications, CVs. advertising bookings, invoices, letters and contracts.

There’s a great big circle of communication between consultancy, clients and candidates; and if it’s not processed perfectly the consequences can be horrific. In short, you need to know that they know what they’re doing. And without really good administrative systems they won’t have a clue.

3. Relevant experience

Recruitment experience goes without saying. You will hear some pitches for your recruitment business that tell you it’s all that’s needed. “The same basic principles apply across the board”. The problem is they don’t. You need people who know your market sector, your geographic area and the demographics that link the two. Knowledge of legislation that’s specific to your business is important.

So too is an awareness of the rhythm of the business year in your field. And, to be frank, some knowledge of your competitors will not go amiss. Knowing who else is hiring, and when; having a feel for what likely candidates are on the move, is vital information. Experience is important, yes. But relevant experience is a deal breaker.

4. Overall awareness

Experience of your business needs to be specific and relevant, but awareness of recruitment needs to be far more wide reaching. New legislation issues like modern slavery and international regulations are all things you can’t possibly specialise in, but you can expect your recruitment consultancy to know.

Take a look at how they work. And where. If a visit to their offices reveals one overworked consultant and a part time receptionist the chances are they don’t have the time to get themselves up to speed with the fast moving facts of recruitment legislation. Find a team who have the resources to make sure you’re covered.

5. The extra mile

You want people who go the extra mile and then some. It’s about customer service, innovative thinking, attention to detail and a myriad of other difficult to define things that make a consultancy stand out from its competitors. The interesting thing here is that, as essential as the technology is when it comes to systems, it’s the personal touch that makes this happen.

Here’s the thing, a good consultant, or consultancy, can only put in the time to really listen to your brief, and then go away, think it through and come back with innovative and cost effective solutions if they have the time to do it.

The only way their client facing people can have to the time to do that is if they can rely on the cash flow, depend on the systems, have relevant experience and overall awareness. All of which can only come from their being soundly financed. With brings me full circle.

When it comes down to it, you need to interview a recruitment consultancy like you’d interview a candidate. The trick is to address these five crucial interviews so that the candidates you do see are the right ones. Brought to you by the right consultancy.

Paul Mizen is managing director of the Recruit Venture Group, the largest venture partner of their kind in the UK

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