the right recruitment consultant

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Good Recruitment Partner.

The Rolling Stones sang ‘You can’t always get what you want’ (you will be humming that later, I promise!) but when it comes to finding a recruitment partner you definitely should! Building a successful team is hard enough without the challenges we currently have in the recruitment market. Partnering with the right recruitment business can make all the difference. Yet, with so many options available, how do you navigate the recruitment landscape without making costly mistakes? We have put together our ultimate guide to choosing a good recruitment partner, from what to ask through to understanding the different pricing models.

In this guide, we'll walk you through the essential steps for choosing a reliable partner and provide valuable tips to help you avoid potential pitfalls.


Define Your Needs AND your Budget:

It might sound obvious but if you don’t have a clear idea of the skills, abilities, and attitude you’re looking for, it’s going to be pretty hard for a recruitment business to find them. Equally, having an idea of what you’re prepared to pay for that new member of staff will help you figure out the style of recruitment partner you should choose. This step will ensure that you have a clear understanding of your requirements and financial capabilities, allowing you to choose a recruitment consultant who aligns with your objectives.


Assess Reputation and Track Record:

A recruitment consultant's reputation and track record speak volumes about their credibility and effectiveness. Seek recommendations from trusted sources, review online testimonials and ratings, and conduct thorough research on their past successes. Look for consultants who have consistently delivered excellent results and have a solid reputation within the industry. At Recruitment @ Rainbow HR, we publish our testimonials clearly on our website so potential clients can see what others think of us.


Transparency in Fee Structures:

Ensure that the recruitment consultant provides a transparent fee structure without hidden costs or surprises.

There are generally three ways in which a recruitment consultant will charge for their time.

Percentage fees

The most common way recruiters charge for their services is as a percentage of the first year’s salary (commonly referred to as “contingent” recruitment). The percentage varies depending on the seniority/salary of the position and can range from 15% to as much as 30% or more. Beware the “hidden” extras though! Some recruiters will include things like a bonus scheme or a company car in their calculations which can have a big impact on the final bill.

Fixed fee

Almost as rare as hen’s teeth but just occasionally you will come across a recruiter who charges a fixed fee regardless of salary/position, this will normally be a fixed %, such as rainbows market leading 10%, but occasionally it can be a fixed sum e.g., £3,000 regardless of role or salary.

Retainer fees

This model is often used by recruiters for higher end roles and is commonly broken down, so you pay a third up front, a third on production of a shortlist and the final third on either acceptance or start date. It might sound like you’re spreading your costs, but you could actually end up paying 66% of the fee (or even 100% if it’s on acceptance) and still not end up with a position filled!

When we set up Recruitment @ Rainbow HR over a decade ago we decided the confusing fee structures were unfair on clients and so we adopted a simple 10% of basic salary fee model, regardless of seniority or additional benefits. Just simple, clear, and fair. It’s been that way since.


Emphasise Exclusivity:

Working with a recruitment consultant who works with your exclusivity can enhance the quality of your hiring process. By choosing a consultant like Recruitment @ Rainbow HR, who won't take on a role if another recruiter is already involved, you'll benefit from their undivided attention and commitment to finding the best candidates for your organisation.


Communication and Candidate Selection Process:

Effective communication is crucial throughout the recruitment process. Ensure that the consultant maintains open lines of communication, promptly updates you on progress, and provides detailed feedback on candidates. Ask them about their candidate selection process. If they are worth their salt, they should be conducting first interviews, assessments, and evaluations, before they put them forward to you. Also important is how many roles a recruiter manages at any one time, at Rainbow we genuinely only work with a small number of clients and roles at any one time, ensuring you have access to us whenever the need arises.


Guarantees and Client References:

Finally, inquire about their guarantee period and the conditions associated with it. Additionally, request client references to gain insight into the consultant's track record of successful placements. Speaking with previous clients will provide valuable first-hand information about their experience and the consultant's performance.


And that’s it! Choosing the right recruitment consultant is a crucial step in building a talented and cohesive team. By following this guide, you'll be equipped with the knowledge and tools to make an informed decision, avoid costly mistakes, and secure the best candidates for your organisation's success.

Why not keep in mind Recruitment @ Rainbow HR when considering recruitment consultants? With our transparent fee structure, insistence on exclusivity, and commitment to client satisfaction, what is there not to like?

We work across the UK, successfully filling roles from entry level to C-suite. We only ever take on a small number of positions at any one time so you can be assured of our complete attention and diligence.

We invite you to share your experiences and insights on choosing a recruitment consultant in the comments below. Additionally, if you have any questions or need further guidance, feel free to reach out.


Recruitment @ Rainbow HR

Tom Waddell is a Director at Rainbow HR with over 30 years of recruitment experience. He has worked with businesses across the UK to place great candidates in roles from C-Suite to junior positions. If you are looking to recruit in the near future but are worried about how to approach it, give Tom a call on +44(0)7960 354441 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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Call Tom Waddell on +44(0)7960 354441 or Fiona Irvine on +44(0)7739 447369 or email [email protected]