4 things you need to know before you choose an agency for staff…

4 things you need to know before you choose an agency for staff…

These days if you have a construction company, at some point you’re going to need staff and you may consider using an agency… but which one to choose? The small local one that specialises in construction? The large UK wide agency that recruits for multiple sectors? Or perhaps something in-between…

No matter what you decide to go for, here are 4 important points to consider when choosing your agency – ‘Recruitment agency must-haves’!

1.    References

Most agencies have a body of guys on their books they know and trust. Reliable people they have met and who have worked with them several times before. There are also a number of workers who have signed up with agencies, but are not yet ‘tried and tested’ and this is where the risk of being sent poor quality, unreliable candidates increases dramatically...

The best way to reduce these risks is by taking recent, relevant references. Without references you can get people on site that don’t know what they are doing, have the wrong tools or a bad attitude; and that’s if they decide to turn up at all. 

Make sure the agency you choose guarantees two recent references, AND that the references they receive are for the same type work! That way you can make sure you know you’re welcoming the best people they have to offer. Most agencies ‘promise’ they take two references, so partner with an upfront agency who offer to back this promise up by showing you the references when you want to see them.


2.    Money back guarantee 

Agencies work with human beings, and human beings are, well… human! Every individual is different. Some reliable, highly skilled and passionate, some not so much… Additionally, humans are not always consistent. We all have off days right? The Joiner thrown out by his wife, the labourer whose car broke down – I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. 

Having a sub-standard candidate turn up on site can be more than just a waste of time, it can be outright costly. An expensive oak door butchered, the excavator damaged; It’s scary stuff.
Make sure you choose an agency with integrity, some heritage and a focus on building value in long term relationships. Ideally an agency with some sort of guarantee on untested workers. Look to partner with a company that recognises the importance of the workforce that represent them, and invest time & money into those relationships. They mean everything.



3.    Nationwide coverage?

Despite what they may say, most recruitment agencies are only able to consistently supply reliable staff within a fixed geographical area, usually a set radius around their office. This is no problem if you are based nearby and only take on local work, but this is a rarely the case in the construction industry. 

Spending time building a trusting relationship with your agency is both necessary and time consuming, so if you work in multiple locations you will be best placed opting for a company that covers the whole of the UK. 

The key to providing a reliable service nationwide is the quality and size of the candidate database. Sometimes newer agencies buy candidate data which is often poor quality, so always choose a well-established agency who have built their contacts organically


4.    Honesty 

Sadly, a lack of honesty in the recruitment world is a problem I’ve heard a lot about, both from candidates and employers. Getting the right (or wrong) staff can impact your company to such an extent that trust should be right at the top of your list when selecting an agency. Thinking all agencies are the same is a big mistake. The key difference is in the operations behind the brand. These differences can be massive.

You need to have faith that your agency are upfront and honest. The often frenzied desire to fill temporary vacancies can lead consultants into tempting potential candidates with promises of a longer term contract than they know it really is. They may also be tempted to tell you a candidate has been referenced when really they haven’t. This is wrong on so many levels. It breaks down the trust between agency and candidate, making future let downs more likely. From your perspective, not only will your site manager be left to explain that there’s only 2 weeks’ work, but the reaction to that news is totally unknown. The candidate may simply walk off site leaving you up the proverbial creek! 

All this can be avoided by choosing to partner with an agency that are honest in every respect. You must be confident if they don’t have the right man for the job that they will have the integrity to say so. Far better they be upfront with you so you have a chance to find staff elsewhere. To help promote this openness you should explain that you will remain loyal even if your preferred agency can’t fill every vacancy. Like all salespeople, consultants get very nervous about the prospect of a competitor getting their foot in the door! 

Regardless, my advice to you? “The first hint that an agency isn’t being completely upfront with you – run a mile.”


There are many reasons to choose (or not to choose!) an agency. Having a great relationship with your consultant is a big one too. The partnership should feel personal and sincere. If you bear this in mind and stick with the 4 rules above, you won’t go far wrong and staffing your sites will be a smoother and happier affair.




Posted 7th September 2016

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