Love Us or Hate Us; You Need Us – 4 Must-Do’s For Working With an Agency

By Lia Malec

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As a staffing professional, I often, in a not-so-joking manner, call myself the red-headed stepchild of HR. Self-deprecating? Perhaps. Yet most hiring managers won’t give me the time of day until they need me. While there are many solid agencies out there, we are unfortunately often overshadowed by the used car salesmen attitude that so many portray. And here I’m left with a jaded clientele. BUT WAIT! I’M DIFFERENT! DON’T HANG UP!

I’m lucky (and have busted my rear-end) to have a very loyal book of business, but on the hunt for more I come across so many leads that will treat me like a leech… until they need me. This is where I come in and coach them; it’s part of the value I provide to my clients and one of the main reasons they keep coming back. Set an agenda and expectations with your agency, and collaborate on a realistic go-forward strategy. From the agency side, when I am working with a client I gather all of the information I need and then explain my process. Not saying I’m perfect, but it’s worked thus far. Here is what you can do to help me help you:


  1. Be concise in your need – As an agency, hearing “I want someone with strong communication skills and attention to detail” will make my eyes roll. Every time. To any decent agency, this is a given. What I want to know is: the role, the day-to-day responsibilities, the desired background, and what has and has NOT worked in the past. If you give me a mediocre description, I can only provide a candidate that is a mediocre fit. By investing a few more minutes of time to clearly spell out your need and why you need it, I can better target and acquire the best candidate.
  2. Set an Agenda – Yes, I am used to the “we needed them yesterdays” and the “ hurry up and waits”; however having a clear agenda not only helps you, but helps me provide candidates with an agenda of when they may receive feedback, an interview request or even when they may be able to start a job. This decreases the chance of a candidate falling off, and makes us all look better and more organized in the long run.
  3. Set Expectations – Do you have the perfect candidate in mind - What do they look like? Do you have a date you need them to start - What is it? If I don’t get you candidates by tomorrow, are you going to go to another agency? If I get you the perfect candidate will you interview make a decision within 48 hours? Every recruiter needs to know what they are up against. Tell me how high I need to jump and I will. On the flip side, if what you want is unrealistic, I’m more than happy to point that out and discuss this with you to come up with a realistic plan. 
  4. Provide Feedback – I’ll say it again. PROVIDE FEEDBACK. DON’T GO MIA. CALL/EMAIL US BACK. Good grief, this is a toughie. Are you picking up a trend? I can’t give you want you want, if you don’t tell me what you want. If you don’t like what I send you, tell me why – I won’t do it again. My feelings aren’t hurt easily. Feedback is your greatest asset, it will help you immensely now and in the future.


If an agency promises you the world for a penny, chances are they are blowing smoke. Rule of thumb: you get what you give. Let’s build a partnership and respect our parts in the process. If you aren’t being asked for these things, then you aren’t working with the right agency. After all, you’re paying me for a service – make sure you get what you pay for. 


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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