Working with Recruitment Consultants

Career Academy |
March 17, 2023 |
6 minute read
Becky Lima-Matthews
Recruitment Consultants

Looking to land your next creative sector job? Here’s what you need to know about how recruitment consultants work.


Career Academy is an information, advice and support facility for permanent and freelance professionals in the creative sector: particularly in marketing, PR, digital, social media, events, creative and design.


Having worked in recruitment for three decades, we’ve seen many candidates through from entry level jobs to senior opportunities in the creative sectors. But to get the most out of finding work via a recruiter, it helps to understand more about the process and best practices for building a good working relationship. Here’s what you need to know about how recruitment consultants work.


What does a recruitment consultant do?


Most people could tell you what a recruitment agency is. They understand that companies hire them to match the right candidate to job roles. But do they know exactly what recruitment consultants do at those agencies? Some recruitment consultants work across different industries, but there are lots of specialist agencies, like ours, Moxie & Mettle which work closely with particular sectors.


As well matching candidates to job roles, recruitment consultants also:


  • Develop new business opportunities
  • Build long-term working relationships with clients and candidates
  • Manage the whole recruitment cycle from initial interest to interview, offer and beyond
  • Prepare candidates for interviews
  • Negotiate salary and benefits on behalf of the candidate
  • Arrange references and background checks
  • Keeping up to date with recruitment trends


In a nutshell:


Recruitment consultants offer end-to-end expertise for the whole recruitment cycle for both candidates and clients. Although candidates often come to recruiters like Moxie & Mettle looking for CV advice, we don’t do that ourselves. But, we do have an excellent network of specialists including CV writers and careers advisors who can help.


What is the sign up process for a recruitment agency?


Recruitment consultants are paid by employers who pay them a placement fee on successful hire. You should never pay any sign up fees to join an agency. In the first instance, check how the sign-up process works at that particular agency.


Agencies often have contact details for specific recruitment consultants which makes finding the right contact easier. For example: if you want someone that specialises in interim roles, check to see if there is a specific contact. There are also some consultants who deal with freelance and contract opportunities, more senior or technical roles etc. You name it, there’s a recruitment consultant that can help.


Most agencies should have a clear, straightforward way to send a CV as a first step, either via an email address or contact form. But if you see an opportunity, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. Although the permanent recruitment cycle can take several weeks, things move quickly when in-demand or short-term roles come up, especially in the creative industries.


Once you’ve made initial contact with a recruitment consultant, and established you might want to work together – you can complete the registration process. Your recruitment consultant will take you through the due diligence checks including passport/proof of eligibility to work in the UK, National Insurance number, and how you expect to be paid (if you’re a freelance or contract worker, this might include Umbrella Company or Ltd company details). The next step is to go through your CV in more depth, and the recruiter will give you constructive feedback to help you land your next role.


How do recruitment consultants prepare candidates to get an interview?


A recruitment consultant will only send you for interview consideration if they think you’d be a good fit. But they also have a good working knowledge of the company you’re trying to work for. Learning how the recruiter works with the end client will give you a better chance of understanding the working culture and values of the company, as well as expertise they’re looking for. For example, your recruitment consultant might ask “Social responsibility is important to the CEO, do you have any workplace or volunteering experience that we can highlight?” or “This role involves a lot of trade events, how flexible are you with working outside of core hours and travelling when necessary?”.


Your recruiter will also act as a kind of mock interviewer, so you’ll get the chance to practise your responses to questions the hiring panel is asking. And of course, you’ll only get an interview in the first place if your CV, LinkedIn profile and portfolio is as good as it can be.


What are the benefits of signing up to a recruitment agency?


Well, of course we would say this, but only because it’s true – there are lots of benefits to signing up to a recruitment agency.  According to hiring sites like Hays and Reed, the top benefits include:


  • Can offer specialist advice for your discipline or sector
  • Expert interview preparation
  • Access to roles that you might not get an interview for independently
  • Advance information about roles that might be coming up at a company
  • Someone to advocate for you as a candidate and negotiate salary and benefits packages
  • The opportunity to apply for multiple positions or contracts
  • Feedback from the interview that you might not otherwise receive


What is the best way to choose the right recruitment consultant?


First of all, do your research. You might stumble on a recruitment agency via a job ad, but it’s worth being proactive and looking for recruiters that specialise in your sector. Some recruitment agencies might specialise in interim, head of department roles, while others might have more mid-weight level jobs regularly on their books. A lot comes down to compatibility.


The best way to choose your recruiter is to know what you’re looking for, and find the agency or agencies that most closely match your professional needs and goals. Having a good working relationship with multiple agencies will increase your chances of finding the roles you want, so aim to find two or three trusted agencies you can approach regularly.


Other tips to help you find a recruiter that is the right fit for you include:


  • Read their about page, does it align with your values and goals?
  • Have a conversation as quickly as possible, ideally on the phone
  • Look for accreditations and specialisms in particular sectors
  • Take note of testimonials (these should be easily available)


How to have a good working relationship with your recruiter:


The key word here is a relationship. Although we’ve outlined how the process works, recruitment consultants are here to work with you, rather than for you. The more information and insight you can give us into your career experience, competencies and aspirations.


Whether you’re looking for your next permanent job, freelance or interim contract, keeping in touch over the long term will create a better experience on both sides. Of course, you can (and should) work with several recruitment agencies to maximise your opportunities for your next creative sector job. But keeping in regular contact with the ones you work closely with will keep you front of mind when a big contract or job advert goes live.


Here are few tips for working with recruitment consultants:


  • Include a cover letter to demonstrate a genuine interest in the role, rather than apply via a ‘one click’ application – recruiters see hundreds of CVs and applications each week, so make sure yours get noticed.


  • Be proactive: follow up, get in touch if you see a role or company you’re interested in.


  • Always be professional: even if it’s just a quick intro call.


  • Make sure your contact details are clear. LinkedIn is one of the best places to grab a recruitment consultant’s attention, or make the first introduction if you see a job post you’re interested in. But that only works if you’re easy to contact, is your CV online? Great, make sure it’s got your email address and phone number on it.


  • Communicate effectively and promptly. Candidates who are prepared and happy to share information that is key to us understanding that they are potentially the right candidate for our client, so things like location, salary expectations, thoughts about remote/hybrid working, reasons for looking for a new role.     


  • Tell them what you need. Let them know if you have any access needs or health considerations that the hiring manager should be aware of ahead of an interview. Your recruitment consultant should be able to handle him discreetly and respectfully.


Why your reputation matters when working with recruiters.


It should be obvious, but bears repeating: a good recruiter relies on their reputation. And the same goes for our candidates. Communication and dependability are essential skills when you’re applying for a job directly, and the same level of professionalism. Yes, it’s true there is bad practice at some recruitment agencies, just as there are flaky candidates.


Word gets around either way. So don’t accidentally sabotage your chances of getting a role you want by being inconsistent, hard to get hold of, or not providing information when asked. Recruitment consultants have robust systems and long memories. And of course, recruitment consultants move around too, so if you may meet again later and you don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reasons.


As our very own Liz Gadd explains, most of what makes for good working relationships between candidates and recruiters is professionalism and respect.


“Client or candidate, we do not tolerate rudeness or disrespect at any time at Moxie and Mettle. Candidates don’t pay for the services of a recruitment consultant and unfortunately that can lead to the feeling that the service has no value, by candidates.  If we don’t feel that we are the right people to help a particular candidate (or client) we will politely let them know and suggest they find a different recruiter.  It’s all about manners and common sense at the end of the day, as in all aspects of life!” Liz Gadd, Founder and Recruiter, Moxie and Mettle.


Why you should stay in touch with your recruiter in the long term


If you’re in a job for a long time, it’s easy to lose touch with your recruitment consultant. But chances are you’ll need to work with one in the future, perhaps on the hiring side next time. So think of recruiters as part of your network as your professional network – check in from time to time, follow them on LinkedIn, make referrals where appropriate. And let them know about your wins, they’ll want to celebrate your success too.


Career Academy offers resources, advice and support in your creative career – find out more here.

Becky Lima-Matthews

Becky Lima-Matthews is a freelance copywriter, content writer and scriptwriter specialising in cause-led communications for agencies, charities and small businesses.

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