What to look for in a recruitment partner

What to look for in a recruitment partner

Exchange Street Financial Services Director Andy Taylor discusses what companies and individuals can do to improve recruitment practice and get the results they want.


Thanks to networking tools such as LinkedIn, recruitment bashing continues apace, and quite frankly, a lot of the criticism the sector receives are valid. Whilst there are lots of fantastic recruitment companies out there the practices of some leaves something to be desired and as an industry, we all need to do better. However a lot of that advancement will not come from the recruitment sector until companies and individuals begin to demand more.

Choosing the right recruitment partner is an integral part of this process but fourteen years of financial services recruitment has taught me that not enough people are aware of the service they should be receiving. And often they exacerbate the problem by putting up with and therefore tacitly accepting poor practice.

Research, research, research

My first piece of advice would be to do your research. Are they a generalist or niche firm? How long have their recruitment consultants worked there for? Pick up the phone and speak to them. As industry experts you will soon begin to understand who knows enough to assist you in your search and furthermore, you can swiftly assess which consultants genuinely listen to you and have customer service and your best interests at heart. Ask them to email you some information; in essence test them. If they do not follow up as they said they would then avoid them.

Secondly ask them about their approach. Candidates need to know where their CV is being sent and companies need to know how the recruiter is going to represent them in the job market. The recruiter is an extension of you; they are marketing your brand so you need to ensure you get it right. Read their adverts and content on their website. Are they prolific, informative and knowledgeable? Or are their adverts bland, or badly written and misspelt?

When it comes to candidates I have never understood why some let recruiters send their CV out to clients without them knowing who the firm is. It is only right and professional for any recruiter to tell you exactly which company they are working with; whilst there may be occasions where they need to be confidential (it has happened to me about twice in fourteen years!) do expect to know what they have done with your details, as, for example, you do not want your CV landing with an ex-manager who you did not like! This can and often will happen if you are not careful. If they do not tell you ask yourself why. It is either because they do not have a strong relationship with the firm or place more emphasis on CV send outs than properly matching your requirements. And if you have no handle on where your details have gone, good quality recruiters cannot and will not work with you.

I also find it frustrating when companies accept a scatter-gun approach and take what I believe is the easy way out. “I just go with whoever sent the CV first” might be the easiest short-term answer but ultimately it just encourages poor practice. Again good recruiters who are doing the job properly will soon get fed up if this happens on a consistent basis and focus their efforts on those companies who demand a proper, professional approach. I know it can lead to problems (who wants to deal with squabbling recruiters?!) but if you are clear about your expectations you will find that such problems only happen infrequently and what is more, the best agencies would rather withdrew their interest in a candidate than cause an issue for their client.

Other factors to consider

Communication – it is vital that recruiter and candidate have open lines of communication. Do not be offended if a recruiter wants to know details of a time when you have not done very well as they are often well placed to either defend this performance of place it into context. If a CV contains positive information for some years but no information for later years, companies will assume that performance has been poor.

Recruiters should keep you abreast to new roles, your suitability for them and feedback as to whether you have been selected for interview, as well as interview feedback, should the recruiter receive it of course!

On the communication front many companies need to do better. Human beings clearly do not like passing on bad news but unless you tell us what you do and do not like, the service we provide will never be as good as it can be. Trust your recruiter to pass on feedback in the right way, and if you do not, why are you working with them?!

Honesty – whilst it can sometimes be a difficult conversation a recruiter should manage a both candidates’ and clients’ expectations. It is not an easy market and a recruiter needs to express to you any issues that might preclude you for a role, or provide guidance as to what a company needs to do to improve their chances of securing the best staff. Whilst not always easy to hear it is a better approach than saying nothing and then disappearing from view.

The ability to listen – one of the most important traits of a successful recruiter is the ability to listen. An adviser is not just an adviser, they are an adviser with a personality, particular requirements and a different belief in how they should work. In order to find the best possible role or most suitable employee, matching the perfect working culture is of huge significance and if a recruiter does not listen to you or ask you the right questions there is a good chance that they will not find you the right position or hire.


To speak with a recruiter that understands the importance of these skills please contact Andy Taylor, Robert Perry or Leanne Fairhurst at Exchange Street on 0161 973 6900 or recruit@www.exchange-street.co.uk.