How Contractors Can Choose the Right Recruitment Agency


In today’s fast-paced, candidate-led jobs market, skilled professionals have their pick of exciting roles. However, partnering with a quality recruiter can often prove the difference between a good new job and a career-defining opportunity. The staffing industry has long had a negative reputation as male-dominated, aggressive, uncommunicative and prioritising commission over candidate needs. Whilst the market hosts some fantastic recruiters, they’re not always easy to come across. With over 40,000 recruitment agencies in the UK alone, how can you find the one that’s right for you?

Generate’s payroll and contractor management specialists work with hundreds of recruiters and thousands of contractors every year. We reveal the landmarks that freelancers, interim managers and sole traders can look out for to find the best recruitment agency for you.

4 Actions of the Best Contractor Recruitment Agencies

1. Continuous Verbal & Written Communication Throughout Your Career

The most common complaint of candidates when jobhunting is that recruiters don’t get back to them. A typical candidate experience often involves being sold an excellent opportunity, only to hear nothing back for days or weeks after submitting your CV/profile, and having to chase for even the most basic end client feedback.

The best staffing consultancies will communicate with you, regularly and with detailed and helpful information, because they truly value their candidates. The most successful recruiters are those who build relationships with their contractors, keeping in touch and approaching you for potential opportunities that match your skill set long before your most recent assignment is finished – because they’ve taken the time and effort to be organised on your behalf.

The best recruitment consultants will prioritise you by keeping you up to date with the market, opportunities and everything you need to know at every stage of both the recruitment and onboarding process. To quality staffing consultants, contractor relationships are paramount, and they will evidence how much they value you by making sure your career wants and needs are met, and supporting you with any challenges along the way.

2. Listening to What You Really Want and Need

Many candidates, both contract and permanent workers, will have a negative experience of feeling shoehorned into a role that wasn’t the right fit for them. Staffing consultancies should carefully understand and communicate the requirements of every client and candidate, rather than just trying to fill a role as fast as possible with the next available candidate who matches the skill set.  

As communication works both ways, the best contract recruiters will both excel in letting you know what’s going on, and listening to what you want and need. Your recruiter should ask you questions such as:

  • What your ideal new role looks like
  • Your current situation (personal and professional) against your ideal future situation
  • Which elements of a role you would be willing to compromise on and which are non-negotiable (for example, hybrid working abilities, location, project length)
  • Your motivations for potential new roles
  • Your short-, medium- and long-term career goals.

By totally understanding you as an individual and as a professional contractor, your recruiter will only contact you about roles that will interest you and help you work towards your goals, at every stage of your career.

3. Operating with Strictly Ethical Practices

Some industries and countries see far greater incidents of unethical recruitment practices. From contracts that do not match the original offer and ignorance of tax laws, to mismanaged data protection processes and failures to protect candidates from mistreatment, poor recruitment practices are increasingly driven under the radar making them harder to detect.

Contractors can measure the ethics of a potential staffing agency through:

  • Reviews – What do clients and candidates say about the agency and its consultants? Check worker review websites like Glassdoor and customer feedback sites such as Trust Pilot for honest, credible references on the agency’s ways of working.
  • Regulators – Reputable staffing specialists will be accredited members of industry bodies such as the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) or the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo). If you’ll be contracting overseas, your agency should already have a license/legal entity to operate in this location and should already be experienced in this market.
  • Website & Social Media – Does the agency have readily available policies on their website, covering Human and Worker Rights, Compliance and Diversity & Inclusion? Does the content and engagement on their social media channels match their claims?
  • Asking Direct Questions – If you see or hear something that doesn’t look right, ask the agency outright: the answer may not provide full clarity, but the reaction you receive will tell you a lot about the truth of their response. Spend time trying to understand how this agency compares with others you have used in the past and listen out for important details that are not mentioned in your conversation.
  • Contacting Your Network – Get in touch with your peers to find out which of them have worked with the agency before and whether their experience was positive or negative. Comparing the views of multiple professionals, and benchmarking the agency’s ways of working against other agencies that you know to be ethical, can help build a full picture.

4. Acting as a Vital Part of Your Support Network

The best temporary recruiters understand that to build and maintain their candidate network, they need strong relationships with their skilled contractors that span years and even decades. Although staffers’ specialisms lie in people management and the recruitment process specifically, the right recruiter for you will invest their time and energy listening to your questions and connecting you to the right partners for the following:

  • Contracting Abroad – Visas, work permits, accommodation
  • Compliance – Payroll, tax, insurance, IR35 and industry regulator requirements
  • Personal Support – Challenges with family situation, disabilities, colleague relationships, physical and mental health.

Find the Best Payroll and Compliance Partner for Your Contracting Career

Looking to learn new skills, make new connections or increase your earning potential in 2022? Discover our Guide to Advancing Your Contracting Career.

Generate have over 10 years’ experience supporting contractors with 90 in-country solutions around the globe. Find out how we could help you.


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