How to work with recruitment agencies

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Whether you’re an independent contractor or long-term employee, how should you deal with recruitment agencies? Knowing how to best work with recruitment agencies can be complicated – but these questions and answers are a start.

Do all organisations use recruitment agencies? No, but most will. Once a new role has been authorised, the first step could be internal recruitment. If there are no strong internal candidates then HR may complete an external search. If unsuccessful, the vacancy could be placed with agencies.

Can the same job sit with multiple agencies?
Yes. Two separate agencies might source the same candidate; whichever submits that candidate to the client first ‘wins’ if that candidate is recruited. Agencies therefore work with urgency to submit CVs.

How do I select which agencies to work with?
Submit your CV to agencies that have a track record in your industry.

Are they advertising for roles that are similar to what you are looking for?
Call them and ask them about their roles and track record.

Rate or salary negotiations
For most roles, the agency has a commercial interest in your salary or contract day rate. They may therefore really help negotiate a higher salary or day rate. If they ask you not to discuss contract day rates at interview, be cautious. They might be looking to pay you a lower rate and charge the client a much higher one. References For permanent roles, the hiring organisation will follow up your references. For contract roles, the agency will perform this activity. If an agency asks for your references very early in the recruitment process ask them why. They might just be fishing for new contacts.

Selection process
The agency should keep you informed of progress if your CV has been submitted. If you are invited to interview, the agency should arrange the logistics and may also provide advice and guidance. Once the interview is over, the agency will follow up to collect feedback. You should always ask for interview feedback, good or bad, so ask the agency to be honest. Agencies might receive only very limited feedback from the hiring organisation – sometimes just a ‘no’.

Visit the careers section for more guidance.


Vince Hines is managing director at Wellingtone Project Management, an APM career development partner.

Other blogs in this series:

This blog first appeared as an article in the Spring edition of Project Journal.

Vince Hines

Posted by Vince Hines on 10th May 2016

About the Author

Vince is the Managing Director of Wellingtone PPM; the project management consulting company based in Windsor, Berkshire. We retain a particular focus not just in the UK but Ireland and Spain.  Wellingtone is the only organisation that is both a Microsoft Gold Partner with the PPM Specialisation as well as an APM Accredited training provider.  Wellingtone is also the exclusive UK partner of the PMO Global Alliance and PMO Value Ring as well as PMOtto; the AI Bot for MS Project Online.

Wellingtone works closely with the APM and sponsors the Annual Salary Survey as well as the PMO of the Year Award.  We also run our PMO focused annual conference; FuturePMO.  We have developed courses in Legal Project Management and the PMO, both of which have been Accreditred by the APM as part of the APM Professional Courses route.

Our "PPM Intelligence" is also demonstrated by publishing The State of Project Management; the largest piece of annual reseearch of its kind in conjunction with UCL, the APM PMO SIG and the APM Systems Thinking SIG.

Vince is an expert Project Management Consultant, having worked with clients across the UK, US and Europe. He retains a number of professional qualifications including MAPM and has extensive real world experience of developing client project management maturity. As an active member of the APM community Vince is also a judge for the Annual APM Awards.

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