Want to know how recruitment agencies work?

I often get asked about the process of recruitment from the point of view of someone who does it for money. What are the stages, how does it work, what does the life cycle of a hire look like? So I thought a great first post for the site should be just that – a transparent look at what the life cycle of a normal paid for recruitment commission based process looks like. This is not an every outcome post, but an idea of the main processes. Also, please note there are other ways to work – for example, most of Team Prime’s recruitment is done through retainer, not commission based.

  1. Someone, somewhere, identifies a need for staff
  2. Normal internal recruiting fails, or doesn’t provide staff in the manner (time, cost, specialism) needed – so a recruitment consultant may be called in.
  3. Terms are agreed if they’re not already, and fees range for a single role on a commission basis between 10-25% of the role’s annual salary. Commission is defined in a process of negotiation – there’s no magic to it. Generally worked on on ease of fill, negotiating skill, and how much you want to work for that client, from my experience.
  4. The recruiter is briefed (either on the phone, or face to face – but 99% of time always by voice) as well as given a role description, commonly referred to as a “spec” (specification).
  5. Once the recruiter is happy they’ve enough to go on, they start seeking the hire. This can be done in loads of ways (another blog post on this another time soon) but generally involves checking who’s already on their “books” (database), who’s on other people’s databases (job sites, Linkedin etc) and also advertising the role themselves.
  6. Once they’ve got candidates, they filter out the ones that aren’t right using email, phone, face to face, until they’re left with a few (in my opinion, no more than 3) that could fill the role.
  7. These candidates get briefed fully on the role, and asked if they’re ok with the client seeing their details. THIS IS IMPORTANT, AND OFTEN MISSED. If you’re ever working with a recruiter make sure this happens, as I explain here.
  8. Candidates agrees and gets sent over. Candidate disagrees, and recruiter finds a replacement.
  9. Once the end hirer had the details, they review and either give feedback, or ask for interview (sometimes both).
  10. Recruiter passes back the news, and if appropriate sets up the interview. At this stage, we always introduce the client and candidate direct too.
  11. Interview happens, either feedback and a no, or a yes please – further interview or offer.
  12. Once offered – either directly from the client, or most often via the recruiter, the candidate decides whether to go ahead or not. Be wary recruiters pressuring you at this stage. No one should ever pressure you. If the job’s suitable you’ll know more than they will. A good recruiter will give you the space to think and also help you weigh up options objectively.
  13. If the candidate accepts, yay! New job! Exciting! If the don’t, process starts again.
  14. Once the candidate is in place, the recruiter will have a 3 month rebate period with the client, which means if that person leaves within 3 months, the recruiter has to pay back a percentage of the fee. This varies wildly from recruiter to recruiter, but is roughly like 100 or 75% month 1, 50% month 2, 20% month 3. Be aware of that if you desperately don’t like your role for some reason and upon asking the recruiter who put you in for advice, they try overly hard to make you stay…

If it’s interesting to you, here’s a copy of Team Prime headhunting T&Cs set at 15%. Our terms are really short, I like to only work with people I trust already so they’re more about being logical and basing our relationship on being sensible. Everywhere else I’ve worked or seen terms for you’d usually be looking at a 3+ page document covering all possible eventualities.

I’ll be going over some of these points in more detail in more blog posts, so stay tuned. Also, if you’re keen to hear about any aspect of recruiting – either in house, external agency, or from the candidate perspective please contact us and say, we’re happy to discuss any part of our work openly.