When Technical Recruitment Solutions went through its re-brand earlier in the year, we made it very clear in all of our documentation and media content that we are recruitment consultants – not recruitment agents. Why did we do this, and why is it important to know the difference? Furthermore, let us share with you why you should approach a recruitment consultant over a recruitment agent if you have the choice. 

What’s the difference between recruitment agents and recruitment consultants?

There’s a good analogy that other bloggers have used that is incredibly accurate in portraying the distinction between agents and consultants. In this analogy, the candidates or job seekers are portrayed as lost travelers asking for directions. If you were a recruitment agent, you would simply tell the traveler where they need to go. If you were a consultant, however, you would offer the traveler a ride or help them to get there.

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Often a confusing call to make if you don’t know the difference.

When we talk about recruitment agents, we’re often talking about recruiters who will fire out your CV to as many companies as possible in the hopes that one or two might read it. Typically, they’re very hands off – like the person telling the traveler where to go, they let the job seeker handle the process themselves for the most part. It’s a generalisation, but recruitment agents will typically focus on quantity over quality and are primarily focused on their meeting their own KPIs.

Makes sense. What about Recruitment Consultants?

Recruitment consultants, on the other hand, guide a candidate into a new role from start to finish and then some. Consultants ensure that they put a lot of effort into understanding the candidate and learning about their specific requirements and ambitions. The candidate’s experience with the recruiter is of paramount concern to a consultant, as they’re less focused on their own KPIs and are instead trying to help and make a difference to that person’s situation.

Of course, that’s not to say that recruitment agents don’t care about their candidates (I’m sure they do). It does, however, speak to the difference in approach between agents and consultants. Like the person who offers the traveler a ride, consultants will take the burden away from the job seeker by doing the hard yards for them and assisting with any obstacles along the way. This means that a job seeker dealing with a consultant will often get free CV advice, interview tips and other helpful suggestions along the way.

What niche do recruitment agents fill then, if consultants offer a more complete and personal service?

According to other articles on the topic, you’ll find that recruitment agents typically excel in saturated markets where the types of jobs are highly competitive and don’t demand specialist qualifications or niche skills. This is why they’re often able to send out CVs to so many companies.

The problem is that they often don’t have the experience or training to tackle the higher-end, professional roles that require a solid understanding of the specific industries and work involved. This is where recruitment consultants often shine, as they typically recruit for mid to high-end roles and in rare cases, the consultants themselves will have real world experience working in the industries they recruit in.

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Quality over quantity: It’s not uncommon for a recruitment consultant to spend a lot of time assisting just one candidate.

I said in an earlier blog post that a career as a recruitment consultant may actually be one of the more rewarding careers out there. I base this claim on the nature of their work and the manner in which they carry it out. Let me elaborate; unlike your standard recruitment agent, the purpose of a recruitment consultant isn’t just to match up a candidate with a job. A recruitment consultant will often fulfill the role of a ‘life consultant’.

Now you’ve lost me. Life consultant?

Often a recruitment consultant will find themselves offering their expertise on matters related to but not directly concerning a job vacancy. For example, last week I was speaking with one of our senior consultants, Adam Cotter.  He told me about one particular interaction he had with a candidate in which he helped her to select a new city to move to, based on the opportunities that would be open to her there career-wise. He later helped her to make sense of multiple job offers that she had, and checked up on her after she started work at her new company to make sure she was settling in well. Being a recruitment consultant is rewarding just like you could argue that being a teacher is – owing to the positive impact you can have on people’s lives and the lasting difference that you can make.

So when you’re looking for work next, and you’re making the wise decision to involve a recruiter in your mission, make sure you check out a recruitment consultancy if you’re looking for the types of roles that they deal with. Not only are you likely to have more success this way, but you might just receive some valuable life advice in the process. In turn, your job search might just change from monotonous and stressful into a positive career-building experience as a result.

Article by Dario Luca, Marketing Coordinator

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