What Makes a Good Recruitment Agency?

Rick Knights

As anyone on the inside will tell you, recruitment is a fast-paced industry and when things are changing so quickly, it can be tough to know if you’re doing the right things or not. So, if you’re a recruiter searching for the right company to call “home”, how do you know what to look for?

At Movement8, we know a thing or two about recruitment best practices. Here are a few key signs of a good recruitment agency (including the things we do in our own business), as well as some red flags to watch out for when you’re weighing up new recruitment opportunities.

1. Trust

With the shift to WFH, many employers have found that they’re at a crossroads in their employee management. Do they trust that their employees are working, focusing on their tasks, and getting on with the job, or do they increase their oversight and more closely manage their team with KPIs, regular check-ins and requirements?

For us, the choice was simple – our core value has always been trust. We believe that if you have genuine trust in your people, everything else is secondary.

Our recruiters don’t have KPIs based on how many calls they make or the number of candidates they screen. At the end of the day, we trust our staff to do activities every day that get them closer to their goals. So, if they’re spending two days a week on business development? I trust that they’re seeing results from it.

Trust must flow both ways, too – throughout the pandemic, many recruitment agencies furloughed at least some of their staff. But I’ve personally heard of recruiters that were asked to work under the radar and comply because pressures from their employer. Whilst I hope we’ll never be in a situation similar to what we’ve faced in the past couple of years again (!), as a recruiter, you should be able to trust that you’ll never be asked to do things that break the law, whether that’s a furlough, GDPR or discrimination rulings.

2. Flexibility

Flexibility is one of the most desirable attributes in a workplace but was often lacking in recruitment agencies in the past. Back in the ‘olden days’ of recruitment, you could be expected to start early, finish late and work through your lunch – and making suggestions to management was strongly discouraged. Thankfully, that’s now changing.

After lockdown, we transitioned to a hybrid working arrangement, doing one day a week at home and four from the office. We’ve found this works well for our team, but it’s not written in stone. We have and will continue to hire recruiters who require more flexibility in their working patterns, whether that’s due to a longer commute, caring commitments, or any number of other reasons. We believe that work is a thing you do, not a place you go!

Flexibility isn’t just about where you work from though, it’s about how you work. Recruitment is fast-paced and oftentimes recruiters are expected to hit the ground running, bringing in sales thick and fast as soon as they’re in the door. But building a good desk and developing a rapport in the industry takes time.

I spoke to a recruiter recently who was taken on as one of five staff, and within three months they were the only one left as the others had ‘underperformed’. Three months is no time at all, especially if you’re new to the industry or new to recruitment all together! A key sign of a good recruitment agency is one that has a low staff turnover, showing that they have patience with their team and give them space to grow.

The best example of this we have in our team is Luke, from our Kent office. Luke joined us shortly after the first lockdown in 2020, from the finance industry. Brand new to tech recruitment, he didn’t bill anything in the first five or six months of joining us. But since then, he has absolutely killed it, billing over £100k this year already. He’s a valuable member of the Movement8 team, and we’d have missed out on that if we’d followed the old-school technique of ‘hire quick and see who sticks’.

3. People- and Client-Led

In smaller agencies especially, the directors are naturally very attached to the business’s direction and can feel very strongly about how things are done, what teams they build and where they are based. But this autocratic management style can hamper their team’s progression, and indeed, the organisation’s expansion.

Recruitment agencies should do their best to be people- and client-led wherever possible. If a recruitment agency has teams built around their staff, with consultants given the opportunity to explore new markets, tactics and even locations, you know that they’re a solid agency.

We opened our Birmingham office because I made the case to our founders Paul and Ross that I could build a team here – and here we are! We’re lucky that we’re still at a size where if someone comes to us and says, “I want to build a team in this market, here’s why”, we can give them that opportunity and support, and let them run with it – because we trust our people.

4. Clear and Simple

We believe in keeping things clear and simple – I’ve seen a lot of recruitment agencies stumble by over-complicating their commission structure. They have good intentions, but it can quickly become confusing for their team.

The last couple of years have been a tough time for the industry, and I’ve seen more and more agencies implementing a ‘pay for your desk’ policy with regards to commission. For example, you must ‘pay’ for your desk with the first £7k you bring in, then you’ll earn a percentage after that. Whilst this might bring the business a short-term cash injection, it can breed resentment and is no longer the norm in recruitment. A good recruitment agency will keep their commission structure clear and simple, and that’s what we’ve tried to do. Our recruiters earn at least 15% of everything, without a commission cap. We’ve found that’s the best way to keep our recruiters happy and working towards their goals.

Join Us

Finding the right recruitment agency can be a challenge, but there are great companies out there making a big impact on their market and on the consultants that work for them – you just need to know how to recognise them.

At Movement8, we’re dedicated to doing things differently and always on the lookout for great new people to join our team. We’re big on hard work, good business ethics and a passion for what you do. If you’re interested in becoming part of a forward-thinking agency that’s committed to seeing its people thrive, get in touch with me directly or contact us here to learn more.