The role of recruitment agencies








What is a recruitment agency?

A recruitment agency is a company that finds people looking for work (candidates) and matches these with job vacancies on behalf of an employer (client).

Agencies can either be national, regional or locally based and will specialise in a number of sectors such as industrial, retail, legal or education just to name a few.

There are three main types of employment;

  • Temporary – Temp positions can be anything from a day’s work to full-time work for over a year. The candidate will fill in a timesheet each week which records the number of hours worked.
  • Temp-to-perm – This is an initial contract which after a confirmed time frame can lead into a permanent position. The employer/candidate can end the contract at any point or the employer can decide to offer a permanent placement.
  • Permanent – Perm positions do not have an end date, the person considered becomes an employee of the client company.


What do they do?

Once a recruiter has a vacancy to fill they will look at their database to find candidates that match the job description as well as posting the job on job boards such as Reed, Monster or Indeed to source applicants with the relevant skills. There are a number of other methods including headhunting which involves approaching suitable people employed elsewhere to fill the position.


Why use them?

For the employer, using a recruiter saves precious working time as it can be a long process for companies to advertise the role, screen candidates and arrange interviews. It can cost a lot of money to offset a bad hire and agencies will have expert knowledge of the recruitment process, the local market as well candidate availability, which employers will often not.

For candidates, an agency will find jobs for them as well as providing advice on things like CV writing and interview tips. Candidates should keep in touch with the agency to ensure they are kept in the loop on other potential jobs. This service is absolutely free to all candidates.


Agency fees

There are generally three types of agencies fees:

  • Temporary worker fees – Basic salary plus a percentage on top which covers the agencies costs e.g. holiday pay, sick pay, pension, national insurance plus the agency mark-up.
  • Temp to perm fees – Basic salary plus a percentage on top, similar to temp worker fees, but also charges a transfer fee once the worker has been made permanent which is determined by the agencies terms and conditions.
  • Perm fees – A percentage of annual salary with the fee being paid once the vacancy is filled.


Retained or Contingency recruitment?

Contingency recruiters earn a fee only when the company has hired someone whereas retained recruiters are paid in advance often used in high level appointments such as directors.

This is only a brief overview into the role of recruiters which can often be overwhelming for many businesses, so it is always best to seek professional advice before starting the recruitment process.


If you would like to speak to us in more detail about how we operate or anything else recruitment related, please contact us on 01484 35 10 10 or at