How to Choose a Recruitment Agency That is Right For Your Business

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Whether your business is searching for seasonal staff or is building up a bench of potential executives to help take the business into the next generation, recruitment and staffing comes with some tough challenges. Recruiting agencies can help ease the struggles and bring you incredible candidates to fill your openings. Knowing how to choose a recruitment agency is essential to kick this process off, so we’ve compiled this list of best practices and all the information you can utilize to ensure you find the right partner for your business.

What Does a Recruitment Agency Do?

Recruitment can be tough for a small to midsize business (SMB). It’s hard to compete with the larger companies out there when it comes to recruiting because:

  • Fewer people know who you are and what your company stands for
  • Bigger companies can put together larger recruitment teams to attract job candidates
  • There’s an assumption that bigger companies will pay more or provide more job stability

Despite these challenges, SMBs need to find the right people to fill out their organization if they want to succeed and grow. That’s where recruitment agencies come in to assist. 

In a Harvard Business Review survey, only 32% of global leaders said their organization has the leadership talent and skills necessary to achieve their strategic goals. Read that stat again—fewer than a third of leaders believe they have the right people in place to succeed. How can you confidently execute any business strategy without feeling assured that your staff is up for the challenge? It’s a recipe for failure. 

This is why many businesses decide to engage the services of a recruiting agency—to hire more confidently and win the talent needed to meet and exceed the organization’s goals. However, not just any staffing agency will do when it’s time to fill your hiring needs.

Advantages of Working With a Recruitment Agency

  • You will meet and receive top-quality candidates.
  • Agencies will help you fill your job openings quicker.
  • Recruiting agencies have specialized staff and are knowledgeable in specific industries.
  • There will be fewer distractions and interruptions for your internal team.
  • Take advantage of the agency’s extensive knowledge of a specific market or geography.
  • Using an agency will give you access to their resources, networks, and special tools.

How to Choose a Recruitment Agency

If you truly want to build a team that will meet your needs now and grow with your organization into the future, choosing the right recruiting company is key. Follow these best practices to select a recruitment agency that can not only get the job done, but that’s the right fit for your particular company and hiring goals.   

Identify your hiring needs

The first step is to outline exactly what you need to recruit for. How many open positions do you have? There are a few basic questions that you need to review to determine how to choose the proper agency. You might end up working with more than one if you have many needs to be met.

Are you adding them to cover a temporary peak demand for a specific season/event/holiday, or are you looking to add more long-term employees? The time you expect to keep a new hire influences what kind of recruitment company you will want to work with. For example, a temporary staffing agency might be the best option if you’re looking to fill seats just for the busy season. However, a recruiting company with direct hire expertise and focus would be a better choice if you want long-term employees. 

When hiring for executive-level or senior-level positions in your company, use a specialized team of executive search or direct-hire recruiters who can thoroughly verify a job candidate’s qualifications. 

By taking the time to assess whether you want temporary or permanent employees, how fast you need them, and what slots you’ll most likely need to fill (both now and in the future), you’ll be better equipped to settle on a staffing agency that will meet your needs.

Consider the Services You Need

Another important question to consider is how involved you want to be in the hiring process. Are you looking for a full-service firm that handles the marketing, sourcing, screening, and interviewing, getting you involved only when it’s time to make a final decision? Or are you looking for a hand in some or all of these recruiting processes? 

Either scenario may or may not be viable depending on the staffing firm you choose to work with, so you’ll want to be sure to discuss your expectations in this area with any staffing agency you’re considering to be sure you’re on the same page. Determine if you need someone to help you write winning job descriptions or negotiate salaries. Be sure these services are offered by the staffing firm you choose.  

Once you determine which services you’d like to take advantage of, you can narrow down the search field a bit more to find an agency that matches your needs.

Search for recruiting agencies that specialize in your industry

What criteria does the staffing agency’s recruiting team use to sort and qualify candidates before presenting them for your consideration? Ideally, a recruitment and staffing services provider will use custom criteria for each job role you need to fill based on your specific needs. For example, 4 Corner Resources utilizes a proprietary process that captures specific details about each position—including:

  • Main job responsibilities;
  • Why the position is open;
  • Key hiring criteria;
  • Desired soft skills;
  • Ideal candidate characteristics; and
  • Disqualifiers.

For companies that work in highly technical or specialized industries to find agencies that can best support the industry. Recruiters should understand the basics and the terminology to help you filter through candidates to find people that match the hiring criteria you set up. If they do not know your industry, they won’t be much help sourcing high-quality candidates. 

Interview the recruiting agency

What’s the difference between Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts? Well, their coffee, for one thing, but they’re also two distinct companies. From their color schemes (neutral and subdued versus colorful and bold) to their value propositions (high-quality coffee served in an inviting setting versus a quick and affordable pick-me-up), these are two very different places to get your morning cup of Joe, and you’ll have a different experience with each one. It’s the same way with staffing agencies. Whereas one might provide a more formal, highly structured partnership, another might be a more laid-back partner who’s open to trying new things. Either way, you should view it as a relationship, and choosing the right one depends as much on you as it does on the agency. 

Consider what you value most in a staffing partner and the type of relationship you hope to have and bear this in mind when interviewing different agencies. Ask questions about their processes and determine their strategy for finding you the best candidates in the market. 

Check the company’s track record

Does the recruitment company have a good track record of helping other organizations in your industry meet their staffing needs? It can’t hurt to check. Ask about things like time to fill, interview-to-hire ratio, candidate retention rate, and client retention rate. These metrics will help you understand how quickly they can place candidates, how successful their placements are in their new roles, and how many of their clients become repeat customers.  

Staffing agencies that work hard to provide top-notch recruitment services tend to earn praise from their customers and/or recognition and awards from independent organizations—such as Inc. 5000 or Fast 50- so be sure to seek third-party recognition in your research. You can also ask for references from other clients.

Consider your budget and how the agency bills

When you’re talking to a prospective recruitment and staffing services company, it’s important to establish how they bill their customers for their services early in the process. Are their services billed on retainer? Do they bill hourly? Or do they charge on a per-hire basis? You don’t want any surprises.

Recruiting and headhunting firms handle their billing in a variety of ways. For example, a contract staffing company or temp agency typically pays workers by the hour, so you can expect to pay a set rate for each hour their contract employees work for you. When hiring directly, a recruiting firm typically charges a fee based on each employee you hire. Once you get an estimate of pricing, you can determine whether that fits in your budget. Ensure you understand the cost to your company if the process is done internally so you can compare numbers.

Keep rising costs from getting you down with our ‘Reducing Labor Costs’ eBook.

Learn from our experts on how to streamline your hiring process.

Partner with the Staffing Team You Can Trust 

Don’t leave your staffing to chance. After all, your people are your most important business asset. Your hires’ quality directly affects your team morale, performance in the market, and company longevity. The wrong hires, on the other hand, can eat into your profits and derail your productivity. Now you have all the information and tips on how to choose the right recruitment agency; it’s time to go to work.

Hire to meet your current business needs and keep pace with future growth by tapping the team of experts at 4 Corner Resources. Forbes recognizes us as one of the Most Respected Recruiting Firms in America, and we’re proud of our 92% client retention rate. Book your free 4CR consultation today and learn more about how we can help set your company up for staffing success.


What are the more important factors when choosing the right recruiting agency?

Determine what is most important to you. The most important factors include your budget, timelines, industry knowledge, large networks or local presence, and previous success rate and track records.

How can I gauge a recruiting agency’s track record?

Recruiting agencies should provide you with some stats and numbers on their previous work in the market or industry you’re interested in. Find out how many candidates they have successfully placed and the retention rates for those employees.

When should I use a temporary staffing agency instead of a recruiting agency?

Temporary staffing agencies are good for seasonal jobs that require an influx of candidates. They focus on quantity over quality sometimes. A recruiting agency is a better option for long-term roles that you want to be filled with high-quality candidates.

What should I expect from a quality recruiting agency?

Set some clear expectations up front with recruiting agencies you’re talking to and see if they feel like they can successfully meet your expectations. You should know the timeline, cost, and type of candidate you’re looking for, agree on those deliverables, and expectations on updates.

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn