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Ask Lawrence: “How can I tell if my freelance recruitment consultant is worth working with?”

07 Nov 16:00 By Lawrence Akers

Lawrence Akers Freelance Recruitment Consultant

Last week, my blog caused some comment and controversy although I was transparent at the start that it was going to be very pro-recruiter in tone. A few people had commented on the fact that their experience of working with recruitment agencies had been less than spectacular. Joseph wrote, "I have had a few experiences over the years with recruiters, and most of them have been terrible.” And he isn’t alone there; the common complaint is that people take the time and energy to meet with a recruiter, follow their advice (even if they don’t agree with it) and then hear nothing after being promised that you’ll get work from them soon. Let’s be real for a second; who wouldn’t be annoyed after that?


In the spirit of leveling that playing field, this week I’m writing about how you can tell if your freelance recruitment consultant is actually worth working with.


I mentioned last week that recruitment can be a pressurised, high-stress job. The turn over in recruitment is actually quite high and this is largely due to the fact that the job is so much more demanding (emotionally, mentally, physically) than what people ever anticipated. You’re dealing with stressed out clients, anxious candidates and the general feeling that people don’t always get the value your service brings. The result is that recruitment consultants burn out fast and often.


The other common issue is a lack of training that is required that successful recruitment consultants need. They need to be able to pick up the phone and do cold calling to companies. They need to be able to successfully build rapport with people and to understand job descriptions. They need to be able to communicate clearly and articulate why there is a match. They need to be able to calm people who are stressed and anxious, coach those who won’t present or interview well, counsel those who miss out, manage expectations and, of course, find and fill jobs! It’s a busy day!


Without proper training, it often becomes a series of people who are keen to meet their KPI’s instead of connecting the dots as to why they’re actually doing what they’re doing. If you’ve ever gone in to meet someone, been promised the world and then heard nothing, you can blame a lack of training for that.

So, yes, the recruitment industry, like any, is not without its flaws. Having said that, it also provides a lot of people with opportunities that they may not have normally had access to previously and, in the case of freelance work, helps to ensure that people are paid properly, promptly, in a legislatively compliant manner and without having to chase up clients for invoices that have yet to be paid. 


Now we’ve got all that out of the way, let’s have a look at what you can ask your prospective recruitment consultants to know if they’re the right one for you!


Ask them which clients they are currently working with and what kind of jobs are they working on?


Get your prospective consultant to talk to you about who they’re currently working with, how long they’ve been working with them, and what kinds of jobs have they been working with them on. In the same way that they hope to build a relationship with you, they also want to build relationships with their clients. The aim is to partner their client, to continually keep an eye out for the best new people coming through so that they can put them out in front of them immediately. 


Ask them who they think you should be presented in front of?


The whole point of you going in to meet with a recruitment consultant is so that you can be placed in front of perspective employers, right? So ask them, who do you think I am going to be suitable for? What industry? What clients do you currently have a relationship with that reflects this? If your consultant is asking for your permission to present you to some clients, what is the point of working with them?


Be wary of any recruitment consultant who offers you the world.


A good recruitment consultant knows that, regardless of how many clients they send you out in front of, they can never promise what the outcome is going to be. They want you out working, however it is really going to depend on what their client’s needs are. When someone says something like, ‘we’ll definitely have you out working soon’ though, it means that they’re not good at just being upfront and transparent with you. It’s a red flag warning sign. What would you prefer? Someone who is going to be real with you or someone who is going to tell you a whole lot of nonsense to give you a warm, fuzzy feeling.


How long have you been in recruitment for?


There is no denying that there are some new recruitment consultants who are absolute guns. If they’re placed under the right management with the right training, it isn’t unrealistic to see immediate results. This is the exception to the rule though; certainly not the norm. Don’t be afraid to ask your consultant how long they’ve been in the industry for? What kinds of successes have they had? What is their story? You’ll gain a lot of insight from what they tell you (and possibly from reading between the lines too).


Lastly, nothing beats a good referral so if you’ve got connections in your industry, ask for an introduction to a recruitment consultant that others can recommend. It may save you a lot of time and hassle as well as provide you with an excellent foot in the door to introduce yourself to the recruitment consultant.


Ultimately, it is always going to come down to building an honest, transparent and trusting relationship. Who doesn’t want that in business?


Of course, if you have any thoughts, questions or simply would like to get in touch with me and offer up a topic for the next Ask Lawrence, you can contact me on or you can find me and connect with me on LinkedIn. You can check out more jobs by going to our website or you can search for them on Twitter via #CRJobs.


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You can also find out if your salary is meeting Australian industry standards in our latest Australian Creative Industry Survey Report by clicking here.