What is a recruitment agency? Title photo

What is a recruitment agency?

You’ve probably heard the term ‘recruitment agency’ pop up at some point in a conversation. Or may have even listened to an ad for one on the radio or seen one on a billboard. But not everyone knows what a recruitment agency is or how it operates. I, for one, assumed it cost money to use a recruitment service in my past job searches. Understanding how a recruitment agency works and its objectives allow for a better experience and engagement, whether from a candidate or an employer perspective. So with that in mind, we’ve written a short blog to help fill in the blanks and help anyone interested learn…

What is a recruitment agency?

In a nutshell, a recruitment agency is an outside firm whose job is to find candidates and fill vacancies for employers. Filling vacancies on their behalf is beneficial as employers most likely don’t have the time and resources to sit sieving through countless CV’s, vetting the strong applicants, interviewing them, and chasing references. Not to mention the pre-process, which includes pulling together a job description, promoting the vacancies and in some cases, headhunting for prospective talent. A recruitment agency does all of this and finds the perfect candidate most quickly and efficiently.

Likewise, a recruitment agency is an excellent tool for a person seeking employment opportunities, whether to re-enter the workforce, venture into a new field, or gain new skills. If multiple employers entrust a recruitment agency to do the legwork on their vacancies, it can provide candidates with a simple route to new work.

Our recruitment consultants at Zenith People specialise in the construction, industrial, engineering, IT, and commercial sectors. Specialising in these five sectors allows us to maintain an expert understanding of the industry and landscape.

How does a recruitment agency work?

The process a recruitment consultant goes through in order to fill a vacancy is relatively easy to get your head around. When an agency receives a vacancy from an employer, a consultant draws up a list of the most suitable candidates who fit the skills required for the role and contacts them to enquire if they are interested in the opportunity. There are standard methods recruiters use to draw up these lists, which include:

In-house databases

A recruitment consultant has a database of varied CVs from potential candidates who have previously applied for similar jobs to the role a consultant is hoping to fill. Accumulating a database of CVs not only gives the consultant options when it comes to finding candidates, but the database will always be there if a consultant is struggling to find candidates elsewhere.

Advertising the job in question

Alternatively, candidates can be found from applications directly for a role that the recruitment agency has posted or advertised. This method is preferred as the individuals who have applied for live positions actively want it and understand what the job entails. Ideally, they would also have experience in the role they are applying for.

Job boards

Searching for candidates on job boards is also a good option for a recruitment consultant. Potential candidates often upload their CVs on job sites like CV-library and total jobs. Doing so allows consultants to view and contact potential candidates who are suitable for the roles the consultants have available.

If a candidate’s skills aren’t suited to a specific role, a recruitment consultant will try their best to find them an alternative job opportunity. In some cases, reversing the process and contacting employers to see if they have space or need in the organisation for the candidate’s skill set. Consultants can also assist with writing applications, writing CV’s and offer help and advice to candidates along the way.

How does a recruitment agency make money?

A recruitment agency does not take money from a candidate using their services. Instead, a recruitment agency generates income by charging employers a ‘recruiting fee’. In the UK, employers are responsible for all recruiting fees. The fee varies depending on the job type, in permanent roles, it is worked from a percentage of the position’s yearly salary. A recruitment agency’s typical fee percentage from an employer ranges between 10-25%. The process is slightly different in temporary jobs, and fees are paid at an hourly rate. This could mean every hour an employee works, the employer pays a small recruiting margin to the recruitment agency. Rates are not fixed and can vary depending on the agreement between a recruitment agency and employer.


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