Recruitment Agencies Worthwhile – Are they good or bad for the industry?

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Recruitment Agencies Worthwhile
Recruitment Agencies Worthwhile

Recruitment Agencies Worthwhile

Are recruitment agencies worthwhile? Do they do a worthwhile job for contractors? Are they good value for the money they get?

Ask a contractor about agents and you are not likely to hear anything good. They are the whipping boys of the industry.

Conversely, ask agents about contractors and you are likely to get a stream of stories about contractors who let them down.

Contractors will say:-

  1. that agents are dishonest,
  2. that they phone them up about jobs they don‘t have just to spam references,
  3. that they have no sense of decency in terms of what they add on to the contractor‘s rate,
  4. and they understand nothing of the profession in which they work.

You will hear phrases like ‘barrow boys‘ and ‘jumped up burger sellers‘ in contractors‘ descriptions of agents.

Agents‘ Views

Are recruitment agencies worthwhile?

Agents will say:-

  1. that contractors are poor at selling themselves,
  2. they turn up for interviews unkempt,
  3. that they accept jobs and then turn them down when they get a better offer, and
  4. that they accept a rate and then get shirty when they hear what the agent‘s cut is, slagging the agents off to their customers.

Contractors will tell you that they have come across ‘good‘ agents in the past, but if pushed them most of them would say that the ‘good‘ agents account for less than 10% of the agent population.

Better off Without Recruitment Agencies

Many contractors say that the industry would be better off without agents. They say that it is only restrictive Government legislation and clients who seem to prefer to pay through the nose that keeps agencies in business and stopping far more contractors going direct.

In the USA, for example, where there is less restrictive legislation, and different attitudes to taking contractors direct, around half of contractors contract directly to clients.

However, contractors and agents are tied together by an umbilical chord.

Would Contract Rates be Higher or Lower

If there were no agencies would rates be higher or lower?

The presumption is that they would be higher because the contractor would also be getting the agency‘s cut as well.

However, this is unlikely to be true.

Contractors, in general, are not very good salesmen, and not as good as agencies at negotiating.

Half Contractors Go Direct in USA

In the USA, for instance, where half the contractors go direct, permanent employee wages are a lot higher than here. But the difference between a permie and a contractor in terms of income is not nearly as much as here.

Also, in any place where I have worked where I‘ve seen contractors go direct, and there is an agency fee to be split between the contractor and the client, I have usually found that the client gets the major portion of the ‘agency fee‘, with the contractor getting only a small mark up on the other contractors.

On average I would say that the client takes two-thirds of the missing ‘agency fee‘ and the contractor takes about a third.

Large Premium Paid to Contractors

Agencies, as salesmen, have been responsible for the historic large premium paid to contractors compared to permanent employees.

Although they helped drive the market down to levels that companies would pay during the downturn, they are now helping to push those rates higher again.

One suspects that agencies have actually been good for contractors and have been a major factor in the higher fees that contractors get in this country in relation to permies.

However, agents, as slick salesmen, and contractors, who are techies, are unlikely ever to get on.

They are in the same boat together though, and until some new business model comes along, they will sink or swim together.

So, what do you think? Are Recruitment Agencies worthwhile?

Do they add value for contractors?

Would our industry be better off or worse off without them?

Comments below please.

For more great advice articles on dealing with recruitment agencies click on Contractor Recruitment Agencies.

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