|By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle
Choosing a professional staffing firm to work with can sometimes be a daunting process. There are many recruitment agencies out there, and choosing who will be representing you to the marketplace can be (and should be) an important consideration. At first blush, most employment agencies appear the same – they focus on placing candidates – but as a consultant or job seeker, you should spend as much time vetting your staffing agency as they are vetting you.
Here are 10 questions to help you determine if you are working with the right recruitment agency to help you land your next role:
#1 – How long has the firm existed? In the placement industry, there are very few barriers to entry and starting one’s own recruitment firm can be fairly easy. When choosing a firm, it is important to go with one that is established and has a solid foot print in the marketplace you are working in.
#2 – What do they specialize in? Is it in line with what you are looking for? There are specialist firms, such as IT recruiting, and there are generalist firms. It is important for candidates to understand what the agency specializes in and what their client reach is in a particular area or industry. The staffing agency’s website and job postings will be a great indicator of the types of resources that get placed by their firm.
#3 – Do they interview their candidates? Did they take the time to understand what you are looking for? A good recruitment agency will take the time to speak with candidates they are actively working with. An agency should either do a phone interview or an in-person interview. If neither has been done, and the recruiter is asking the right to represent you, think again.
#4 – Will they ask for the right to present you to a client, each and every time? Every time an employment agency speaks to you about a client job opportunity, contract or permanent, they must ask for explicit permission to be your representative. If this is not a policy of the agency that you are working with, chances are they are sending your credentials out to the marketplace without your knowledge. It can be very detrimental to your reputation when you give one recruiter permission to submit your resume, and another agency also submits you to the same role. Avoid ‘blanket representation agreements’ as clients who receive your resume from two different sources may fault you for the discrepancy.
#5 – What specifics are outlined in their contract? Payment terms? Non-competes? A reputable staffing agency should be open to you reviewing their contract proactively. There is nothing worse than landing a dream technology contract role, and then finding out that your agency’s policy is not to pay their contractors until they are paid by their client (which is surprisingly common with smaller or start-up firms). You should also ask your recruiter to outline their candidate care program – what kind of treatment can you expect once they place you?
#6 – What is their reputation in the staffing industry? If a recruitment agency is large enough or specialized in your area of skills, you should be able to check out their reputation from colleagues and on social media.
#7 – How professional is their website? What is their digital footprint? One can often tell a lot from a staffing agency’s digital footprint, including how professional their website looks and feels. A professional agency should be able to demonstrate, at a minimum, their corporate history, candidate screening and hiring processes overview, and have a career page listed with postings. A code of conduct and ethics page is also a great piece to look out for.
#8 – Who are their clients? Will the placement agency provide you with the best opportunity to land your next role? When speaking with a recruiter, don’t be afraid to ask them how large their presence is in the marketplace and who their clients are. Do they specialize in an industry vertical (ex. Technology, Financial Services, Healthcare, Oil and Gas) or corporation size (Fortune 500 or Small/Medium businesses)?
#9 – How professional are their recruiters? Once you do get a chance to speak with a recruiter, were they easy to work with? Did they understand what you are looking for and the parameters around your job/contract search? Did they go over your recent experience with you and find out what your core skills are?
#10 – What is their candidate turnover rate with a client and how often do they re-work with the same candidates (candidates re-use)? Don’t be afraid to ask the agency this question as this speaks volumes on how well they understand their clients’ needs in terms of candidate fit. If the turnover ratio is high (more than 2%), then treat this as a red flag! The agency has not taken the time to understand the fit between both parties. Another great indicator of how well an agency does with its candidates is how often they re-work with candidates (in particular contractors). Most good staffing agencies will want to work with resources they have placed in the past and these long standing agency/candidate relationships exemplify satisfaction from both parties.
These questions are just the starting point to working with an agency. In the end, it comes down to your comfort level when dealing with the staffing agency’s recruiters and how they treat you.