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Using a recruitment consultancy

Recruitment consultancies are used by many individuals to assist them with finding a new job. Deciding upon a change of career is a daunting experience for many and the question of where to even begin your search can be a cause of stress and confusion. 

Whether you are unemployed and searching for a job, or currently in a role but interested in finding out about potential new opportunities, Suzanne Feeney, country manager at Robert Walters - Ireland examines the key issues to consider prior to starting your job search, and the benefits involved in using a third party to negotiate on your behalf. 

By using a third party your anonymity is preserved until the time is right to reveal your identity.


Why use a recruitment consultancy?

Many professionals looking for a new job will not want to approach companies directly for fear of losing confidentiality and exposing themselves as someone who is not dedicated to their current employer. By using a third party your anonymity is preserved until the time is right to reveal your identity. It is also a practical step if you are in a senior position as executive jobs are not always made public and it can be difficult to hear about them if you are not working with a recruiter. Recruiters have contacts in industries and at companies that you might not even be aware of. They can help market your CV to the right people and provide you with additional exposure to potential employers.

Recruiters spend a large part of their day speaking with decision makers in the market. A good recruiter is someone who is able to not only assess your key competencies and skills, but find an organisation where you will also fit in culturally. This is something that you would not necessarily know without “insider contacts”, as interviews can often create a false environment which is not indicative of the day to day working environment of the organisation.

A recruitment consultant acts as an objective third party between you and your prospective employer, and eliminates any awkwardness you may feel about discussing salaries, benefits and career progression with a stranger.

Many organisations are not openly recruiting at present – if an organisation has undergone a redundancy programme where they have had to let a number of their staff go, it is often inappropriate to then be advertising for new positions. Recruitment consultants are often given the ‘heads-up’ by their clients who will tell them that even though they are not officially recruiting, they would like to see strong CVs for a particular business area.  

How do you choose the right recruitment consultancy?

Choosing the right consultancy is key when considering your next career move. It is essential that the recruiter completely understands your background and has assessed your skills to an extent where they can assist you with your career progression by speaking to you about specific market opportunities. A good recruiter will not only speak to you about job opportunities, but will advise on interview techniques, CV layout, core competencies for specific roles, salary expectations and progression paths.

With this in mind you should consider the following criteria when assessing which consultancies best meet your needs:

Consultancy client base

Which clients does the recruitment consultancy work with and is this client base representative of the career path you wish to take?

CV ownership

You should have complete control over the whereabouts of your CV. Some consultancies will often send a CV to clients without the express permission of the candidate. Do not tolerate recruitment consultants who send your CV to clients without you knowing it - this is completely unacceptable behaviour and under no circumstances should you feel pressurised into working with them as a result.

Consultant remuneration

Does the consultancy work on a commission basis? Consultancies that work on a direct commission basis can sometimes let the prospect of commission override the needs of the candidate. Look for a consultancy that does not directly remunerate their staff on the volume of placements they make but targets people on client retention, repeat business and candidate referrals.

Candidate care and satisfaction

You should also feel that you have a right to ask about the consultancies policy towards candidate care. The end result of this is that you should feel that you have entered into a trusted working partnership that lasts your entire working career rather than a one-off transaction.

Consultant credibility

Does the consultant understand your needs and the business/role you want to work in? It is vital that you feel like you are speaking to credible consultants with relevant industry/market knowledge. Make sure you trust the consultant. Be 100% honest with them and expect/demand 100% honestly and confidentiality at all times. Ask how much experience your recruiter has. It is important that they have industry experience and are a specialist in your business sector.


Most importantly, you should have confidence in the consultancy that you choose to work with. They should act ethically and responsibly on your behalf; and represent you accurately to the market place.

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