Getting the best from a recruitment agency

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Excel Recruitment’s Nikki Murran shares her top reasons on why you should engage with a recruitment agency, instead of going it alone 



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3 July 2024

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I wrote an article last year listing the benefits of using a recruitment agency when adding to your retail team. A shameless plug you ask? Perhaps, but also, good information to know when you are deciding whether to engage with an agency or go it alone. 

Whilst the benefits are numerous, ranging from expert industry advice and employer branding, to access to wider talent pools and better value for money, some retailers have told me they are still hesitant to reach out to recruiters for support as they are unsure of the process or how best to proceed when dealing with a professional recruiter. So, this month, I have put together some information about how the recruitment process works and some tips to follow when you are using a recruitment agency.  

Murran’s top tips  

Look for experts specific to your industry: Your regional manager or support office will usually offer recommendations. You want to make sure you are using a recruiter that understands the vacancies you have, the market and location you are recruiting for. They should also be open and honest about the climate of the current job market. A good recruiter should give you feedback about packages being offered by competitors for similar roles, give you a salary guide for your role in the market, and also be willing to work within the budgets that you have rather than push you into a salary band that isn’t feasible for your store.  

Agree terms: Be sure to ask your recruiter about the costs involved, when they are due, and what sort of policy is in place for candidates who leave. Your recruiter should be transparent with all this information from the outset.  

Information is king: Share as much information as you can about the business, your store, your team, the role, the package, and the benefits on offer. This allows your recruiter to upsell your business to the best candidates on the market- The more information you give them, the more attractive your job becomes to prospective employees.  

Wish list: Be sure to provide your recruiter with a detailed wish list of the sort of candidate you require. Include everything from culture and soft skills that are important in your store to ideal systems you would like them to have used previously. It’s also worth ranking items on your “wish list.” 

Keep an open mind. I always explain to my retailers, any candidate I send you should be able to Do the job. By the time we have screened them, we are sure they are all capable so at this point it should just come down to “fit”, which means at the end of an interview day with my candidates you should feel like any of them could potential do the job, but you will likely have a preference for who you think will work best alongside you, your team and your customer base. Some CVs may look stronger than others, but by trusting your recruiter to understand your role, and meeting all their candidates you will get a broader picture of the market and often times a candidate who doesn’t “jump out” from a CV – will have an X factor that you can only discover after an interview. There is a reason we put each candidate forward!  

Feedback, feedback, feedback. The more feedback you provide, the better partnership you can form with your recruiter. It’s the best way for them to understand what a great candidate looks like to you. Many of my clients register jobs and just ask me to put forward the one or two best candidates as they trust I know what they want.   

Partnership approach: Look to your recruiter as one of your business partners. Most of our clients have been with us for over ten years and come to us for advice, a snapshot of the current market, feedback on the knock-on effects of new legislation, or to hear what other retailers are doing to combat shortages in the market – we can be a great business partner and the more we understand your business the more support we can offer.  

Communication: Regardless of how your recruitment process is going communication is always key. By keeping in touch with your recruiter during the process you can make sure they are keeping your role active and adjusting your wish list as your business needs change  

Haste: Most good recruiters can react swiftly to your recruitment requests. In the grocery and wider retail market, this is especially important. Be sure to agree on a timeline from the outset with your recruiter. They should outline when you should expect the first CVs and, from there, when the first interviews should be expected. In today’s market, it’s imperative that you move through the process promptly or you risk losing candidates.  

Hopefully, this helps with your next hire!  

Read more: A love letter to the grocery retail industry



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