If you surf the net you will find quite a few firms that promise to take care of your staffing needs. How to understand which ones you can trust? Are there any signs to identify a serious recruitment agency? These clues will help you to stay away from run-of-the-mill and unprofessional services. 

1. A small agency does not mean it is bad, yet a large agency is not always good.

First of all, you should stop thinking that large recruitment agencies are better than the small ones. We can often find a situation when employers turn to a well-known firm but they do not get the result they expect, due to particular reasons. One of them is that for large businesses, you may not be a unique customer, just another one. This means that when a big agency fails to successfully complete a project by picking 2-3 candidates that are not adequate, they can simply “forget” about it. On the contrary, for small agencies, you are a unique customer. It is more likely that they go the extra mile to pull off any project you throw their way. 

2. Beware of wide-ranging agencies 

You should be on the alert if a recruitment firm is willing to deal with a diverse range of job vacancies. If a staffing agency promises to work on providing both a courier and a top manager, it could be a bad sign. Such a strong spread may imply that the company’s employees are ready to undertake any work without thinking twice about its quality. A fast and spot-on result is guaranteed only if you partner with specialized and niche agencies. For example, if you need IT specialists, the best solution is to contact a recruiting agency that concentrates in IT talents. These agencies know the market inside out and their databases retain information of thousands of candidates specialised in the IT sector. Regardless of how specific your needs are, niche firms can fulfill them better than anyone else; as their daily job is being in contact with the exact type of professional you are interested in. 

3. What is the warranty?

A serious recruitment agency should have a so-called warranty period (the period of time during which the agency is obligated to replace an employee), given that there are situations where the candidates do not suit the requirements completely, do not fully integrate with the team, or just decide to drop the project in an early stage before they can let anybody down.

For that reason, this period tends to last for 2-3 months for mid-level personnel and up to 6 months for top managers or positions that are otherwise critical for the company for being very specialised. Extending the warranty period may lead to an increase of the fee previously agreed, as it increases the risk that the agency is bearing. If a staffing agency is not ready to give any guarantees at all, perhaps it is better to stay away from it.

4. Search procedures and techniques

You should always ask how a recruiting agency picks candidates for your vacancy. Of course, a staffing firm will not reveal all of its secrets; however, a general idea about the search process and their awareness of the various sourcing channels should suffice in helping to understand whether you want to partner with this specific company. For instance, some agencies select candidates by only posting vacancies and awaiting for candidates to come.
If you consider that the set of skills you are looking for is fairly common and that some basic advertising will give you the right candidates, you may want to pay the advertising in a portal yourself for a much lower price.  On the other hand, if you are after a rare mix of skills or want to add a more sophisticated selection criteria, externalising the process to a good recruitment agency will certainly give you better odds that your needs will be fulfilled.

A professional recruiting firm sources candidates for skill-intensive jobs by a direct search through companies in specific industries or via headhunting. They may also scan social networks, use recommendations, or simply follow the word-of-mouth to get the best candidates; not only the ones to be found using the Internet or other techniques (separated or combined).

5. Undisclosed client list

Every recruiting agency wants to boast about their satisfied clients. This is understandable because when a firm has a portfolio with well-known companies, the likelihood of attracting new clients dramatically increases. However, not finding a client list in an open source should not be a reason to jump right into conclusions; mainly because many recruitment agencies agree to work upon the confidentiality of the companies they cooperate with. This is a similar to the concept of deciding whether you want your competitors to know which suppliers you use or keep it to yourself.

On the contrary, a complete lack of information about previous clients is not too favorable either. A trustworthy agency should agree to provide general details about successfully accomplished projects in a private conversation. 

6. Meet the recruiter.

Like all services, regardless of the business’ processes, tools and methodologies used; agencies will differ. In the end, it all depends on that unique relationship that your company  and the hiring managers will have with the recruiter assigned so that all your needs, preferences, and expectations are met. A serious agency should allow you to arrange a brief meeting in order for you to get to know the team that will be working on finding the right talents for your business; as you will delegate them a pre-selection of your future employees or colleagues, while creating an impact on your Employer Reputation.

Employees are ultimately your company’s most valuable resource; therefore, choosing the right partners to help you ramp up your own organization is key to building powerful teams and transform your company into a market leader. 

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