Three important factors to consider

Three important factors to consider when choosing a recruitment agency to share your resume with.

Celebrating International Women’s Day and #Balanceforbetter, for all the incredible, talented women considering their next role, this blog is to help you choose the most suitable agencies to represent you.

Recruitment is, unfortunately, one of those industry sectors that few people trust. Most of the women I speak to have at some point, had a very poor recruitment experience. In fact, for many professionals I speak to of all genders, every experience has been negative, even where they have been awarded the role they wanted.

For some women, the act of proactively looking for work comes with a sense of uncertainty, unease or vulnerability. For that reason, we believe it is worth knowing what a professional experience looks like, compared to a poor one, to ensure you have the best person and agency representing you.

Classic poor recruitment includes, among others: a misleading description of the destination organisation or role; no face-to-face meeting with the agency prior to an interview with the client; little to no pre-interview coaching for the candidate; no follow up calls from your consultant during a recruitment process; and the worst – no notification about whether you have been successful or unsuccessful, even where you have attended multiple face to face interviews (strikingly common), or even receiving a template email rejection.

In today’s market there is an increase focus on female talent. Women we work with are often approached by multiple recruiters weekly. How, when you are already feeling unsure about opening yourself up to the job market, do you choose what agency to engage with?

Here are three simple considerations:

1. Does the agency work in your sector?

This is a simple but important first step. Agencies are, more often than not, industry focused e.g. Technology or Financial Services. Check the agency’s website or keep an eye out for their advertisements and you’ll know quickly whether their industry focus aligns with your career aspirations.

2. Values of the organisation

Recruitment is one of those industries in which there are many ways to take a shortcut to make a placement. Did you not get a call back after your interview? That may be because the recruiter is feverishly focusing their energy on something that they believe will get them the outcome that management pays the most attention to. Your experience comes second.

Did you find yourself feeling misrepresented or hurriedly forwarded to a potential job? That may be because the consultant needs to hit their quarterly target and doesn’t have time to give you the experience you deserve.

An individual consultant’s activity is often driven by KPIs. These KPIs are in turn driven by the values and objectives of the organisation. So, when reading an agency’s website, pay attention to how much emphasis is put on the following attributes in pages like the “About us” page:

• The size and scale of the organisation
• Its growth trajectory and market dominance
• Its dollar value and total revenues
• Years of operation

Organisations that place particular emphasis on these attributes tend to be sales and revenue driven in their internal management style. Sales and revenue focused management drives consultant behaviour focused on outcomes (sales) rather than customer (you).

Find an agency that values people above all else, that operates with a sense of purpose and contribution and appreciates that by delivering a great experience to candidate and client, they will be a highly successful organisation.

3. Consider the quality of your consultant

Even a reputable agency can hire a poor performing consultant. Someone who meets their core requirements, yet nonetheless is not very good in the role. Recruitment may seem uncomplicated on the surface, however, expert recruitment is full of nuance. It takes many different capabilities to be a first-class recruitment consultant.

When dealing with a consultant of any agency consider these factors:

How well do they listen – are they curious? Do they ask quality questions?

How consistent are they with follow up – do they call back when they said they would? Are you left wondering what is happening with a process? Do they make promises that sound good yet seem shallow?

How well do they present – verbally and visually. Are they articulate? Do they dress like someone you would want to represent you? I would place particular emphasis on verbal presentation. Anyone can wear a nice outfit.

How well do they know their industry – do they seem to have a handle on your role and where it fits into organisations?

How well do they know their client – A shallow understanding of the client environment often speaks of a transactional engagement. Subpar consultants struggle to create trusting advisor relationships with their clients and therefore only have a superficial understanding of the environment they are introducing you to.

As a female candidate, there may be several more factors to consider. These include:

Does the consultant understand the value of a diverse workforce – can they educate their client? Do they understand the dynamics of the environment they are recruiting you in to?

Does the consultant understand the differences between recruiting men and women – do they take time with you to understand your background? Do they spot any habits you might have which under-sell your capabilities? Do they support you in realising your true worth including your salary negotiation?

Do they have an overview of the gender data in their client organisation – Are you the only woman in the team you’re to join? Do they have an all-male executive team? Does your recruitment consultant even care about these aspects?

There is a lot to consider, I know.

In summary, find the agencies that work in your sector, review their organisations to see if they sound like the sort of place that values people deeply and operates with purpose. Listen carefully in your engagement with a recruitment consultant for the attributes above. Test them, ask them difficult questions, make sure you are comfortable that your interests are being represented. Lastly, network with several agencies you like and, sooner or later, opportunities will come knocking.

Open Door is committed to working with and elevating women through female-focused recruitment.

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