What makes a recruitment agency ‘the best’?

popularity_contest_tshirt-p235069822332396586t53h_400What makes a recruitment agency ‘the best’?

Well up until recently it was seemingly based purely on how many people an agency could get to vote for them in the SEEK awards. Whilst there are other industry awards, the ones run by SEEK have arguably been seen as the biggest, and therefore in a lot of people’s eyes the one to win. 

But the awards were just a popularity contest, and the agency that could put together the most effective marketing campaign to get votes would win. It had little to do with actually recognising the best… in the same way that the winner of X-factor recognises the best singer!!! A lot of very good agencies would never get close to wining because they simply didn’t have the resource that their larger competitors had to run a campaign… or more likely just couldn’t be bothered involving themselves in such a ridiculous game.

But that has all changed now.

SEEK have thrown the reality TV show-esque popularity contest out of the window and replaced it with a judging panel. I admit that I don’t know the ins and outs of how this new system works and what specific criteria they are judging agencies against… (you can view it here)…but I think this makes the awards far more credible and valuable.

But how do you define what being ‘the best’ actually means in recruitment?

Is it the amount an agency bills, their profit, service levels, client list, staff retention, community involvement… the fact that they have a pool table and dress down Friday? Obviously, it will mean different things to a candidate who will be more interested in the quality of service, than it will to an employee who might be focused on how lucrative the commission structure is. For the owner of the agency it might be all about profit, where as the client is more interested in the strength of their candidate database. For the office administrator it is the fact that he or she is given flexibility so they can pick their child up from school every day. 

It is probably impossible to get a consensus on what being ‘the best’ agency actually means. But surely it has to be more about being good and successful at recruitment, than just a popularity contest. So well done SEEK. Maybe those agencies that don’t agree are a bit annoyed that they will now have to actually show why they are ‘the best’ if they want the right to wear that label.

So, if you were on the judging panel, what criteria would you be using to determine which agency is ‘the best’… and how would you score?

Luke Collard


4 thoughts on “What makes a recruitment agency ‘the best’?

  1. Ross Clennett, (@rossclennett) on Reply

    Nicely said, Luke. I think it’s about time the SARA popularity contest was ditched. Good to hear that they took soundings and acted. I suspect, also, that the Award participation levels were down as many agencies realised they could never win without a big campaign and decided to focus their resources elsewhere.

  2. Jenny on Reply

    I have worked at two agencies who won the SARA award,and then went on to Legend status, and at both with no marketing campaign. Both agencies were / are candidate centric and treated candidates with respect. I think there is a place for both popularity and judged awards – like the Logies!

  3. KLB on Reply

    Staying anonymous for a reason here, but I feel its important that people know how these awards have worked and am pro the new format… From an insiders “first hand” account, I can vouch for the fact that votes are drummed up with (at times) sessions where all of the agencies recruiters have had to take an hour out of the day, once or twice a week in a KPI format to call clients and candidates to “ask” them to vote, and not get off the phone until they have voted. You decide if thats the right or wrong way to go about winning multiple awards? I hold no value at all in the SEEK awards… although could be accused of double standards as SEEK do know how to put on a great drinks session afterwards!!!!

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