Managing your agency relationship

Posted by Lawrence Bond June 28, 2020

What do we mean by agency relationship?
Well, if you ask a candidate about the contact levels they have with their recruitment agency, they’ll often tell you that there’s not enough contact. If you ask a recruiter the same question, they’ll nearly always say that there’s too much contact.

Although this is clearly NOT how it should be, as a job seeker you may need the agency more than they need you. As a recruiter (and someone who would ultimately pay the recruitment fee!), it tends to be the other way around. This often leads to an imbalance in the contact levels.

Regardless of which side of the desk you sit, a common complaint about ‘typical’ agencies is that the relationship is not as productive and efficient as it should be.

So what can you do to ensure that the balance is right and that it increases your chances of a positive result?

Firstly choose your partners carefully. If you deal with a smaller, niche consultancy, the chances are that you’ll be dealing with an experienced Consultant who works on fewer vacancies or job seekers and consequently, the service levels will be more personalised.

This is obviously a generalisation and there will be exceptions to the rule – There are good Consultants at large agencies and poor service levels at smaller consultancies too, however there are still a number of things that you can do.

Firstly, be selective about the agencies/Consultants who you engage with regardless of which side of the interview desk you sit at. If you know the Consultant, have had dealings with them or have been recommended to engage with them, you are far more likely to receive a more engaging, supportive experience.

If you are a recruiter who dealt with credible Consultants who represented their recruiting client well whilst you were the job seeker, see what they’re up to now. If you feel that the article we’re sending you to try and support show insight, remember to contact us too!

If you are paying a Consultancy a large sum to recruit or you are registering with an agency (who could make a fair amount by placing you), they should be able to consult and advise.

Be upfront. Listen to how that consultancy works as standard and if it’s not how you prefer to operate, then discuss this with them. If you don’t get a good feel for the relationship side of the process or how consultative they are, minimise your level of engagement with them.

Managing expectations:

A good consultancy will do this without you asking them, however you may need to ask your agency to explain the contact levels so that your expectations are set at the correct levels. Are they going to call daily, weekly, just when there’s news etc?

Alternatively, should you be contacting them, what’s the best method of communication for both sides, should you be meeting and if so, where, when and what’s the purpose etc?

Treat the agency relationship as a partnership:

Consultancies hate to be viewed as subservient service provider to a recruiter, as it doesn’t create an effective process. Take it upon yourself to ensure that this doesn’t happen in your process. Respond to them, engage with them, do what you say you will and in turn, you’ll get a better service as a result.


If the consultancy give you advice and you have a good understanding, trust them – if they get it wrong, you know not to listen to them again! Ultimately, finding a good, open and honest Recruitment Consultant is essential to your business or personal goals and the relationship HAS to be based on trust and a mutual understanding.

Too many agency forget the importance of a job search on your life or the impact of recruiting on your business, and they often don’t tailor their services accordingly. To some extent, they are providing a service and they should do everything possible to work with you. If they don’t and there’s no relationship in the relationship….they’re not the right partner for you!

Finally, please be fair and realistic.

It can be a particularly frustrating situation when you are struggling to find a job. Blame is often aimed at agencies and consultancies for their failings (or perceived failings), but it is often tough for all concerned.

PLEASE just remember that a lot of recruiters are also struggling in the current climate and there are things that they can do and things that they simply can’t.
* They can’t create opportunities that don’t exist.
* They may struggle to respond to every job seeker with a targeted, constructive and insightful response.
* They might be great but forget to do something. Just give them a gentle nudge.

What they should do (and the purpose of these articles), is treat you well, be honest, try their best to consult and advise about what you can do to increase your chances of success.

To experience how recruitment should be carried out, contact Lawrence, Nigel or Debbie.