Recruitment Agency Reputation

Unfortunately, Recruitment Agencies do not have the best reputation. No real surprise there and by even talking about it now, I know I am perpetuating the narrative. Spend any amount of time online (especially LinkedIn) and you’ll find a negative post regarding someone’s experience with a recruiter.

Why? Why do agencies have this rep? Here are a couple of reasons (I’m sure there are a few others!) why the sector has a bad but reputation but reasons that can be fixed.




Key Performance Indicators


When I first started working in recruitment, I was told (a lot), ‘it’s a numbers game’. The more people you speak to, the more jobs you’ll have on, the more interviews you have the more placements you’ll get. In short, get on the phone! And even though that was more than ten years ago, very little seems to have changed.

Individual consultants will have to work towards a raft of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that may include:

  • Sales calls
  • Update calls
  • CVs sent
  • Interviews arranged
  • Visits attended
  • Etc etc etc!!!


Don’t forget the old adage, ‘whatever gets measured, gets done’. So in order to achieve their KPI targets consultants will send a few extra CVs, make a few more calls and so on. This leads to unwanted and unnecessary actions that only leave the recipient confused at best and dissatisfied at worst.


The Reward Structure

As it operates in the private sector, there’s no shame in acknowledging that recruitment agencies make money and consultants earn bonus. There is some financial reward for a lot of professions. But where the similarity ends is the way it is paid.

An Accountant, Surveyor or any other profession would receive their bonus on an annual basis to reflect that work they’ve done over a long(er) period of time. In recruitment bonus (or commission) is paid for the work done that month, or that quarter at most. Therefore, consultants are motivated to get results now and lose sight of the importance of long term relationships.

A reward structure that has short-termism baked into it will only encourage behaviour to achieve short term results. And if you accept that logic, it means a reward structure that is based on result over a longer period of time would encourage a more long sighted approach.






Whilst these two points are not presented as ‘magic bullets’ to cure all the ills of the sector, if more and more agencies adopted a non-KPI and long term reward structure environment, then surely everyone would benefit.


To note, there are practices for which there is no defence – not returning candidate calls, fake job adverts sending candidate CVs to jobs they haven’t been spoken about etc.


If you’d like to see more, please see our video here.


Bowen Eldridge Recruitment is an independently owned recruitment agency based in Cardiff specialising in Accountancy Practice, Finance and Marketing.