Nick Holt

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So, you've just agreed to 10% fees with a recruitment agency! I suppose you've got a good deal for your business! - maybe not.

A few weeks ago I ran a survey of my network to see if there was an appetite for me 'pulling back the curtain' into the world of recruitment. The result of which is what I am branding as 'The Insight Series'. A series of articles that will provide an honest and open insight into the world of recruitment, how I operate and how I know my competitors operate.

In this first article, I'm going to stick my head on the block and speak about the unspoken. Recruitment fees and what you get for your buck.

Any good consultant will provide a high level of service to you, regardless of the level at which you are paying them. After all, reputation is a recruiter's most prized possession.

That said, a good recruiter will 'prioritise' their open vacancies on a number of things;

  • 'Fillability' - kinda self-explanatory but in this highly competitive market, especially if working on a contingency basis, fillability will probably be the first thing that is looked at.
  • Fee percentage - Taking fillability into account, the next thing they will look at is the return on the investment of time they will spend working a role
  • True Partnership - Does the client value the partnership? Are they willing to properly brief you on the role? Do they provide timely feedback to CV's/Interviews? Is communicating with the hiring manager/decision-maker easy?

I could go on and on but you get the picture, each job order is prioritised based on a number of factors that will determine which gets the most attention over the others. Again, this is based on a contingency search - read about the difference between Retained & Contingency here.

So now, to fees. Let's ignore the above for now and focus purely on fee percentages and how the recruiter ranks jobs based on fee alone.

>10% - Chances are your job isn't being actively worked on, you will receive candidates but only after they have been rejected by competitors in your locality paying higher percentages. Might receive speculative CV's of candidates from time to time.

12.5-15% - Your job will get worked on, as long as the fillability and true partnership boxes are being scored high. Again, good candidates are probably being presented to others first.

15%-20% - The higher the percentage, the higher up the list your job goes. As above though, you've got to score highly on the fillability and partnership scale to really cement the focus on your vacancy.

It all sounds incredibly mercenary, doesn't it? But let's face it, if you were in the shoes of a recruiter and you are working on roles on a contingent basis, you'd have got to hedge your bets and make sure that you are getting a good return for the efforts that you are putting in with no real guarantee of being paid in the end. As a general rule, I would say that I personally fill 25% (if that) of contingency vacancies I have 'on' at any one time but I'll fill 100% of the ones I focus on.

If you want to truly guarantee that you are getting prioritised how you'd like in relation to your open vacancies, I would advise that you: Work closely with one trusted agency and provide them full access to you at the start of any search assignment. Be responsive when they need you and feedback in a timely manner on any CVs/Interviews. Agree to fees that make it worth the effort, and above all else, work exclusively/retained on the vacancy.