The 5 Most Important Things in Achieving a Successful Relationship with a Recruitment Agency

By Tom Mornement

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The goal of a recruiting agency is to serve as the recruiting extension of your existing Human Resources department as seamlessly as possible. Partnering with such an agency can be a powerful business move, but with so many players in the field, it can be tough to determine the right fit for your team. In this 5-part series, I am taking a deeper look into the 5 key factors that contribute to a successful relationship with a recruitment agency.


1) Selecting the Right One

Before bringing an outside agency into your organisation, take care to thoroughly think through your hiring needs. Every business is different and accordingly, there are a wide range of recruitment agencies available to accommodate the unique hiring needs from various sectors. At Purple House HR, we specialise in recruiting Human Resources professionals which has allowed us to become experts in our field and put our expertise to work for our clients. Agencies that specialise in other fields take this approach for the same reason. The benefits of narrowing your focus on agencies that specialise in the area that you’re looking to hire means that the agency not only understands the role you want to fill, but they also understand the market and how to leverage it for recruiting success.

When selecting and evaluating an agency, consider the challenges and successes of your hiring efforts thus far. Are there any markets or areas that you struggle to find quality candidates in? Or, are you drowning in a sea of applicants, of which only a few are qualified for the position? Are there any recruiting initiatives that you would like to start, but do not know where to begin? Identifying what your department needs is the first step. From there, you can begin to narrow your focus into finding the best agency for your company.


2) Briefing on Role Requirements and Internal Staff Agreement

A successful agency-client relationship is anchored in clarity, communication and collaboration. For success, you must establish a clear understanding of the role requirements, recruiting process, and timeframe for each position. Part of this is identifying the requisitions, or job orders, that could benefit from an agency’s expertise and additional resources more so than others that you may not have challenges with. It is important that all necessary internal parties agree on the process, timeframes and any related protocols before moving forward with an agency. Typically, your HR generalist and hiring manager for the area would be the main points of contact for the agency’s account manager.


Establish an agreed plan for communicating a job order to the agency as well as expected follow-up and procedure. Would you like the agency to send CVs directly to the hiring manger or do you only want to see candidates who have been pre-qualified via a phone screen with questions that your department pre-approves? When you place a new job order, how would you like to brief the agency’s recruiters on the position? A helpful practice is to hold intake meetings during which the hiring manager would discuss their department’s current need and provide any other insight they have into the candidate profile they are looking for. In these meetings, recruiters will be able to make any suggestions they think would be beneficial based on the conversation as well as ask the hiring manager questions that will help them better understand your company’s candidate market (e.g. local competition, current recruiting challenges).


Do your top performers have anything in common outside of their professional selves? Many great recruiters, for example, have athletic backgrounds. Will they need that experience on the job? Not likely, unless you are hiring talent for your company’s sports team. However, that experience does reflect a competitive nature.


Talk about the job description items—skills, experience, responsibilities—but ask the hiring manager what they like most about their current and former top performers. Try to find out what contributes to their success beyond their knowledge and experience. This information will help recruiters screen for those intangible qualities.


3) Timely Communication

At each stage in the process, help the agency help you by providing the recruiters with prompt and thorough feedback. They will use this feedback to adjust their recruiting. If, for example, you need someone with a strong benefits background, but the candidates they are sending through do not have the type you are looking for, clarify that so the agency can pursue the right candidates for the job. Providing timely feedback after you receive a submittal or conduct an interview will help avoid candidate drop off rates during the recruiting process.


Consider holding weekly status meetings as a way to review the bigger picture and discuss ideas for particularly challenging markets or positions. Recruitment agencies keep diligent records and tracking of what works for their clients and what doesn’t, so these sessions are a prime opportunity to compare notes with the agency regarding strategies that have worked for your company as well as hearing about ones that you may have not considered before. This might seem time consuming when you’re already busy but taking the time to feedback will help the agency get the right people to you, meaning you’re more likely to have a great new hire on board quickly who can relieve some of your workload. 


4) Being Open to Feedback

One of the best advantages to working with a recruiting agency is the expertise they bring to your organisation. Recruiting is their entire business and daily focus across multiple markets. You know what you need, but they know how to identify it and recruit individuals who have it.


Because of that experience, be open to their feedback. They may suggest small changes, such as changing a unique title to a comparable, more common one that would garner more attraction by showing up in more searches. They may push for a candidate that you may not initially see as relevant, but have a reason that you hadn’t considered. Hear them out. Having those conversations will help both sides learn from one another and strengthen the relationship.


Beyond mining job boards for CVs and increasing visibility to your open positions by utilising various advertising channels, agency recruiters strategically place their efforts toward any actions they deem necessary to find you that purple squirrel. The goal is to screen these candidates so well that your hiring managers only see the top contenders. A low present-to-hire ratio is a coveted achievement among the recruiting industry.


5) Partnership

A recruitment agency strives toward the same hiring goals your internal HR does—recruit the best person for the job in the most effective and efficient way—which makes them a potentially great partner and ally over the course of your professional relationship. At Purple House, we learn the ins and outs of our clients’ businesses, from their brand to their company goals, which we leverage to source and attract the talented individuals who will bring you there. By understanding these aspects of your business, recruitment agencies can use that insight to align their candidate interaction with your company’s values and provide a great candidate experience that will leave a lasting impression.

To achieve the best partnership, it’s better to work exclusively with one agency. You might think that working with several increases the chances of finding quality candidates, and that by agencies knowing they’re in competition with others it will produce better results but the opposite is actually true. In a rush to get candidates to you before someone else does, the level of qualification if likely to be less and the candidate certainly isn’t going to get a thorough walk through of the role and why it represents a good opportunity for them. Working with multiple agencies also creates more work for you and presents more opportunities for mix ups and delays, which ultimately could mean missing out on the best candidate. 



Written by Tom Mornement, Director of Purple House HR, a niche recruitment consultancy specialising in the placement of Human Resources professionals. If you’re looking for a new HR position, or need to hire an HR professional, then get in touch:
0117 957 4100


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