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Can Recruitment Agencies be Trusted?

Feb 28 2019 by Phil Spurgeon

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It’s a pointed question. Can anyone be trusted?

Existential debates aside, it’s an uncomfortable truth that the recruitment industry doesn’t have the best reputation.

If you type in the words ‘recruiters are’ into Google (other search engines are available) the predictive search will throw up some suggestions that tell you all you need to know…

Recruiters are…the worst.

Recruiters are…lazy.

Recruiters are…liars.

Recruiters are…evil. Evil? Really?

It’s a damning indictment of an industry that exists – primarily – to help people. In answer to the barrage of eye rolling that no doubt occurred: of course there’s a money making element. But money is a by-product of success. And something not exclusive to the recruitment industry.

But – when you get down to the brass tacks – the recruitment industry is meant to help businesses find the right people to further their success.

There are some bad eggs

As with any industry there are some shocking agencies out there that chase the money and show very little regard for their clients, let alone their candidates.

It’s all about churn and burn.

Those outfits exist in every industry and as long as we have money there will always be those who want to exploit others to get it.

But as any good movie will tell you – the bag guys always get caught out in the end.

Fortunately it’s fairly easy to spot a bad agency. Here are some of the signs:

There’ll charge candidates handling fees

No really. There are some operations out there who try to charge candidates a nominal fee to cover the cost of advertising your CV on job boards and the like.

It’ll usually be just low enough that a candidate will consider it an investment but it’s a fraud. Those agencies make thousands out of unsuspecting candidates just trying to find a new role.

Just to be clear – the client is the one who pays the fees. Always.

They don’t know what they’re talking about

Anyone who has worked with recruitment agencies will be able to recall at least one horror story. An instance where the consultant had literally no clue about the role, business or sector they were recruiting for.

In the interests of fairness, it’s hard for a recruiter to be an expert in – say – aerospace engineering. Because they aren’t an aerospace engineer.

However there is a colossal difference between not knowing how drag coefficients work and not knowing what the job entails. A good recruiter should understand the key skills and experience required and what that actually means.

They’ll lie

This lack of professionalism will usually result in one thing – lying. They’ll say more or less anything to either get the candidate to take the role or the client to offer it.

The result is two very unhappy parties who essentially blame one another for the bad fit. Meanwhile the recruiter laughs all the way to the bank.

The really bad ones will actively encourage candidates to lie in interviews too. Although if a candidate believes for a moment that it’s a good idea then – frankly – they deserve each other.

They’ll pump you for information

Good recruiters ask questions. The right questions.

They need to know about experience and any anecdotal evidence that supports the achievements on the candidate’s CV. It helps recruitment consultants put them across in the best possible light.

Bad recruiters will try to find out where the candidate has worked and where they’ve applied unsuccessfully so they can send them speculative CVs.

They’ll also find out where the candidate has applied directly in order to learn who is hiring. They’ll then send their own candidates, significantly reducing the candidate’s chances of success.

But there are plenty of good ones too

As is often the case – the bad agencies tarnish the reputation of an entire industry. It happens in all industries whether you’re selling products or professional services.

A bad experience tends to grab headlines far more than good ones.

Of course there’s reasons for this. We’re drawn to bad news because it makes us aware of threats to our safety and wellbeing. It helps protect our tribe – be that our family or our organisation. Our brains don’t make the distinction.

As such it’s far easier for our brains to assume that all businesses in the insert industry here are all out to get us until proven otherwise.

The upside of this is that the good recruiters are easy to spot.

They know the industry

Just as it’s obvious to well when a recruiter has no clue about who a client is and what they do, a good recruiter has don their research.

More than that they understand the business needs. They get what the organisation is trying to accomplish through hiring the people they’re searching for.

In short – it’s more than a simple ‘bums on seats’ exercise. The client is looking for high calibre candidates and a good recruiter will understand that.

They learn

Not just about the client’s business but about their requirements. They will ask questions to better understand what they’re looking for both in terms of role and fit.

They’ll also listen to feedback and pivot their search accordingly. Which reduces frustration for the client because they get a better selection of candidates. The candidates benefit too as they aren’t being put forward for roles they have no hope of getting.

This leads to a better quality of service all round.

You can count on them

The whole point of outsourcing recruitment to a specialist agency like KDC is we’re experts.

It’s really as uncomplicated and straight forward as that.

The client benefits from years of experience, a talent pool in the tens of thousands and a dedicated person to get the job done.

A good recruiter will work hard to find high quality candidates who meet the requirement, not meet a quota.

A good recruiter will also keep everyone in the loop without being chased. One of the most common complaints by clients and candidates when describing the recruitment industry is poor communication.

A good recruiter will touch base even if nothing has progressed. Simply because – when someone is trying to find a new role, even no news is news.

They’re ethical

It’s okay, you can laugh.

But those recruitment agencies who operate in an honest and transparent way are – by definition – ethical.

An ethical agency submits candidates who are right for the role. They’re putting the needs of both the client and candidate first.

They make sure the candidate is properly prepped and enthusiastic about the role. That means they walk into the interview confident and enthusiastic about joining the team.

There is no value in misrepresenting clients or candidates to the other party. It is short sighted, it rarely (if ever works) and destroys trust.


The truth is that the vast majority of the industry operates in an ethical and above board manner. Businesses are no longer willing to accept bad service just because that’s the way it’s always been done.

The data suggests that the industry has listened. In 2016 there were than 4,500 new recruitment agencies started. A 14% increase on the previous year.

Of those 78% survived their first year of trading, far greater than the national average of 51%. This points to an industry that is responding to client and candidate demand and operating in an ethical fashion by meeting their needs.

Or there is a mass conspiracy within the recruitment industry that we’re not aware of.


At KDC Resource we are committed to putting the needs of our clients and candidates first. If you have a requirement you would like our support with, get in touch today and we’ll be happy to help.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a new role within the aerospace and defence sectors, upload your CV and a member of the team will be in touch to discuss your ideal role.