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Advice on Using Recruitment Agencies for Employers

Working with Recruitment Agencies can save your organisation both time and money. This advice section is designed to teach you how to get the most out of your relationship with Recruitment Agencies.

If you are working with a good, professional agency their services should exceed legal requirements. As an employer you are in the driving seat when dealing with agencies. This advice describes 'best practice' in the industry. Our suggestion is that if you are not dealt with in the way outlined in the following points that you re-think the agencies you use.

Terms and Conditions

Do not just sign these. Read them. Make sure that they are clear and that you agree with them.

  • The fee structure should be clearly outlined
  • There should be a refund policy should a placement not work out within a given time-frame (in the case of permanent placements)
  • Responsibilities for employees should be appropriately apportioned. (in the case of temporary employment). Are you going to be the employer or are the Agency the employer?
  • All terms must be legal

If you are not happy with any of the terms and conditions discuss them with the Recruitment Agency.
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CV Submissions

You should never receive a CV from a Recruitment Agency without the expressed permission of the job seeker.

As a bare minimum an agency should have discussed the role and your company with the job seeker. They should also have asked the jobseeker if they have already applied for that role. The law is flimsy in this area but it is good practice and common sense. After all, how can a recruiter be sure that the candidate would be suitable for you and wish to work for you without discussing the position first.
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Multiple Copies of the Same CV

If you receive multiple copies of a CV then it is clear that one or more Recruitment Agencies that you deal with are not complying with these standards.

Job seekers are aware that their CV being received multiple times by a prospective employer can show them in a bad light, making them look careless and desperate. They have the right to ask an agency to withdraw their CV from your company if they feel they have not been represented properly by that agency. Please respect that right and allow the job seeker decide who represents them. Obviously this does not apply if the agency in question does not work with you and the CV submission was unsolicited. In that case the job seeker should be made aware of this.

Due to the number of duplicate CV's some companies have received they have put a policy in place of 'the first CV in is the one that is accepted'. While this policy is understandable and clear from the companies perspective it actually helps to promote bad practice among recruiters which in turn increases the numbers of duplicate CV's you will receive.

This happens because the system actually rewards renegade recruitment consultants who will send a CV first and ask questions later. In doing so, they increase their chances of beating off competition. It is also tempting for a recruitment consultant to send many CV's rather than a few well matched ones under these conditions. So while the policy of 'first in wins' may seem like a good idea, the reality is it practically guarantees you a worse service from the recruitment agencies you work with.
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Too Many CV's?

You call the shots here. Ideally you should clarify the volume of CV's you expect with the Recruitment Agency before the recruitment process starts. Failing this, all it takes is a phone call to rectify the situation. Should you still receive too many CV's then you can always use a different agency instead.
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Unsolicited CV Submissions From Agencies

This should not happen. Inform the agency in question that you will be contacting the Data Protection Commissioner if this happens again and destroy the CV.
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Unsuitable Candidates Put Forward For Your Role

If you have given an adequate job description to your recruiters then this should not occur. If it does then you may be falling prey to the bad practice of 'CV flinging', the theory being that if you put enough CV's forward then some of them might stick. It could also be due to inexperience or lack of care and attention on the part of your recruiter.

Put your foot down. There are plenty of recruiters who take the time to ensure the CV's they submit are of a good standard and suitable for your requirements.
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Your Role In Getting The Best Out Of Your Recruitment Agencies

The more information you give your recruiter about the role, the better the service they can give you. Obviously, if you have been working with the same consultant for a long time then they will know your company well. Feedback is still important though. Feedback on CV submissions and interviews allow your recruitment consultant to fine tune the type of candidate that you are looking for.

You should let the agency know what you expect of them in terms of how many CV's they should submit to you as well and any particular pre-screening requirements you have.
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Reference Checking

Some companies like to do this themselves and some like the agency to do it. The important points to note on reference checking are as follows:

  • References should not be checked without the consent of the candidate
  • References should not be checked until 'mutual interest' has been established. This means that the candidate should be either offered or at the very least short listed for the position

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How Many Agencies Should I work with?

There are several ways in which companies work with Recruitment Agencies

One Agency
Either exclusively using one agency or retained services (common with executive search). Without the pressure of competing agencies more time can be spent before the CV is submitted.
Preferred Supplier List (PSL)
A short list of agencies to which jobs are given. This means that you are more likely to get a manageable number of well sourced applications. If your preferred suppliers do not come up with the goods within a few weeks you can open up the doors to other agencies or avenues.
The More the Merrier
If you absolutely positively do not want to miss a single possible applicant for your position then this is the way to go. Accept CV's from every agency. The downside to this is that you will get a lot of CV's and the chances of duplicate CV's showing up are greatly increased.

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Membership of the National Recruitment Federation (NRF)

Legislation is a little skimpy for Recruitment Agencies. The NRF has a code of practice that all members must adhere to. Using a Recruitment Agency who is a member of the NRF insures that higher standards are adhered to. It also gives you another avenue if cause for complaint should arise.
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