How a recruitment agency works

Many people don’t like having to deal with a recruitment agency. Many people it seems don’t really understand what they do.

Recruitment is big business. Recruitment agencies operate as a business, not a charity, nor a careers advice service, but a business. The business is sales. The service they sell is the ability to supply the right candidate, quickly. Their product is you.

Each time they supply a candidate for a position, who is offered and accepts the role, the recruitment agency will receive a commission, an agreed percentage of the salary for the role.

The most important requirement for anyone working in a recruitment agency is not the knowledge of the industry sector or niche they are working within, but rather, the ability to sell. They must sell their services to hiring companies looking for employees, and they must sell the role to you, so you will accept it and earn them a fee.

Here is how my typical day working in recruitment would look;


Report to work, check diary, make any scheduled calls, ensure candidates will be attending interviews that day.


Team meeting - discussion of projected sales figures for the week (ie, how many people will accept positions, and their monetary value to the agency), solutions for dealing with “potential problem candidates” (ie those who might not accept offers) - objectives and targets for the week.

9:30 -13:00

New business - contacting potential customers (ie managers within my region and sector) and trying to establish prospects for recruitment over the next quarter. Attempt to arrange a meeting to discuss how we can help to deliver their recruitment needs

14:00 - 16:00

Contacting applicants to the job advertisements I have placed. Deleting the majority of poorly matched CV’s and performing interview screening to determine the best candidates to put forward for each role. Sending those CV’s considered worthwhile onto clients with strong recommendation.

(NB while I am telephone interviewing candidates I am mining them for information as to the names and contact details of previous managers “should I need a reference”. This information can now be used tomorrow, between 9:30 and 13:00)

16:00 - 18:00

Get feedback from applicants who have attended interviews. Try and establish who will take the job if offered. This, of course, will be the candidate I recommend to the employer. Be ready to explain any “problems” or job interview mistakes to the employer to mitigate the damage they may have caused, and try and ensure we get an offer.

There you have it. A day in the life. Now when you are dealing with a recruitment agency you have an idea of what is actually going on, and where you fit into the picture. But don’t be alarmed. If you know how to deal with recruitment consultants you can make the situation work for you.

Click here to learn about recruitment consultants and how to handle them

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