Using a marketing recruitment agency

Business man and woman holding clipboards interview a woman

Using a recruitment agency can be a very effective way of filling sales and marketing vacancies. The right agency should reach more potential applicants than your website or personal contacts can while avoiding the need to run your own recruitment ads

A good agency will have access to quality candidates who aren't actively looking for a job and at the same time, screen applicants on your behalf so that you only need to see promising candidates. With relatively high job turnover among sales staff in particular, this helps avoid wasting time reviewing CVs or interviewing unsuitable applicants.

Choosing the agency

The ideal recruitment agency for your business will already be recruiting for sales and marketing roles for other companies in your industry. If you don't know which agencies are active in your sector, ask employees and business contacts for recommendations. Searching on the main internet job portals for the kind of job you want to advertise should turn up the names of agencies recruiting for similar positions. It's also likely that you will be approached from time to time by recruitment agencies pitching for your business.

You can find reputable recruitment agencies through the Recruitment and Employment Confederation directory of recruitment agencies.

Test the expertise of a recruitment consultant by asking about recruitment trends in your sector and what roles your competitors are looking to fill. Look for evidence of how the agency sources and assesses candidates. The best recruiters typically use a network of contacts within the industry who can recommend suitable individuals, and interview all candidates before putting them forward for any jobs. A recruitment agency that simply advertises the job on your behalf is unlikely to be justifying its fees.

Screening candidates

A well-prepared job description and person specification for any role you want to fill helps you brief the recruitment agency. Ensure that the agency understands any intangible criteria - for example, the sort of personality that you are looking for in people who will be representing your brand.

Be clear about how you want the agency to screen candidates - for example, whether you are prepared to see candidates who don't quite match your criteria. Provide feedback each time you interview a candidate put forward by the agency, explaining any weaknesses you felt the candidate had. Be prepared to take a tough approach with agencies that repeatedly send you unsuitable candidates.

Agency fees

Make sure you have agreed the recruitment agency's fees before using them. Fees can be substantial - perhaps 20-30% of the candidate's annual salary - but this may be negotiable, particularly with smaller agencies. Ensure that the agreement covers how fees are calculated for jobs with significant performance-related pay.

You should confirm whether the recruitment agency will be advertising on your behalf, and if so whether you are expected to contribute to the costs. Most agencies operate on a no-win no-fee basis. If you do agree to pay for advertising, you should be able to negotiate a reduction in the final commission for finding a successful applicant.

You should be able to negotiate agreement that fees are refundable if a new recruit doesn't work out, say within the first three months. Alternatively, an agency may offer to find a replacement free of charge.

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