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What Factors Should You Think of When Partnering With a Corporate Communications Recruitment Agency?

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What Factors Should You Think of When Partnering With a Corporate Communications Recruitment Agency?

According to industry statistics, the UK recruitment market grew at the fastest rate in history last year with just shy of 8,500 companies registered. Inevitably, among them will be new joiners in the corporate communications and marketing space. You could once count on one hand when looking through suppliers in this area, but in an ever-competitive market, what factors should be considered when deciding which digital marketing recruitment business to work with? We'll be exploring this in a little more detail, with the objective of making that choice easier for you.

1. History and market knowledge

Time = knowledge. As with the best candidates in the market, the more experience they have, the more knowledge they (should) have in their area of expertise. It’s the same with recruitment agencies. With time, comes market knowledge; anything from knowing the best candidates in the market and market trends, to knowing the best search methods.

Industry data shows that 84% of all recruitment agency registrations took place in the last decade. With over 40 years of corporate communications recruitment experience to our name, we feel confident our clients are in safe hands when briefing us on the all-important vacancies in their team.

2. Strong market reputation

As with any business, reputation is hugely important. With some candidates working exclusively with the best recruitment consultancies, it’s important to know which agencies will be able to attract the top talent. It’s those who have a strong reputation and trust in the market based on years of positive outcomes and strong customer service that are more likely to attract the best candidates to their vacancies. The more negative experiences candidates have with unproven recruitment agencies, the less likely they are to want to be represented by them again.  

We’d always suggest asking for recommendations from people in the industry; ask who they may have worked with when they were searching for a role or who has given them a fantastic recruitment service in the past. It’s these recommendations that build a strong reputation and one which clients can trust time and time again.

3. Proven success

When considering which corporate communications recruitment agency to work with, don’t be afraid to ask them which competitors in your market they’ve worked with; who they’ve recently placed with; which similar roles they’ve placed in the last few months and what their fill rate is. These are all straight forward questions which recruitment agencies should be able to answer with ease to prove their worth when pitching.

4. Business rates and terms 

With increased competition comes more competitive business rates. In order to stand out from the market, companies will offer lower pricing to attract new clients. Finding the balance between the best service and the best price is critical; there are not many examples where they come hand in hand. This is inevitably the same with recruitment so bear this in mind when reviewing the cheapest creative recruitment agencies elsewhere.

5. Consultant knowledge and expertise

When selecting a recruitment agency, you’re working with more than just a brand name. Really look into the detail when deciding which recruitment company to use. Consultants will be managing job briefs and sourcing candidates for you. Look through consultants’ LinkedIn and website profiles so you can get a better idea of their industry knowledge and experience. Things to consider when choosing include:

  • How long have they worked in the industry they're recruiting for?

  • How long have they worked in the business?

  • Do they meet all candidates they put forward for roles?

  • What’s their market knowledge like?

If you’re satisfied with the answers to these questions, you should feel confident your job brief will be managed well.

6. Service standards

A difficult one to find out before deciding to work with a recruitment partner, but extremely important in getting right. Online reviews/testimonials, both on consultant profiles and company pages should give a good idea of the quality you’ll be working with. If you have any mutual connections, it’s always a good idea to find out how their experience was when working with prospective businesses. Find out if a high level of communication was maintained through out the process; if they always knew what to expect next; if the timescales were agreed upon each step of the way to find out what the quality of the service is like.

7. The route to market/methods of sourcing candidates 

Experienced consultants should be well networked enough to have a large pool of candidates to call each time they receive a new job brief. Of course, agencies advertise all roles (or at least, they should), but it’s those that are able to generate a shortlist of candidates from their existing candidate network that are the most successful.

When asking recruitment agencies to pitch for a role in your team, questions around the time it takes to generate a shortlist and which methods they use to generate candidates are worth asking, so you can see who will be able to meet the brief in the shortest time. It’s those recruitment consultancies who place an advertisement online and hope for a great application that will soon struggle to compete with the more proactive agencies.

8. Candidate experience and reputation

It’s the recruitment agencies that offer just as good a candidate experience as their client experience that is the most successful. From acknowledging an application to updating candidates throughout an interview process, it can be the small things which are missed that are remembered for years to come. If you’re treated badly as a candidate, think twice about returning as a client!

9. Generalists v specialists

With a whole host of agencies to choose from, making the right choice can feel difficult, especially when comparing generalist agencies to specialist agencies. Within generalist recruitment agencies, you will find a few consultants working specifically in the specialism you are recruiting for, in this case, corporate communications or marketing. These types of agencies will recruit across a variety of specialisms and have an arguably larger pool of candidates as a whole in comparison to a specialist agency. However, the flipside to this is that the candidate pool will also contain candidates from a variety of backgrounds – from IT to HR, so consultants may be slower off the mark in finding you the right candidate for the role. 

Although the candidate pool may not be as extensive in a specialist agency, consultants will have created a network comprising only of corporate communicators and marketers, meaning you are likely to receive a shortlist of candidates in shorter turnaround time. Within specialist agencies, the market knowledge consultants have will run deeper, having only met candidates within one specialism.

In summary, with such a big decision to make, it’s important to be thorough when selecting your corporate communications and marketing recruitment partner. As they’re doing the work to save you time and stress involved in the recruitment process, you want to be sure you’ve chosen the right company to work with. Recommendations, confidence in their market knowledge and a strong understanding of their previous success and sourcing methods are all important when making that choice.

If you have a job brief, whether permanent or contract, in your corporate communications or marketing function, we’d love to have the opportunity to work with you in finding the right candidates. Feel free to contact us to discuss further on:

Number: 0207 436 4243


Corporate Communications - Lucy Cairncross, Executive Director, Communications and Marketing


VMA GROUP is a leading international interim and permanent communications, digital and marketing recruitment, and executive search specialist. Specialist practices cover internal and change communications, external communications, public affairs, marketing, digital, and agency services.

We have a reputation for providing leading consultancy services and advice supported by in-depth knowledge of the professions we recruit for. Our thought leadership and benchmarking studies have become go-to resources for the communications and marketing industry supporting planning and decision-making.

VMA GROUP has offices in London, Manchester, Amsterdam, and Brussels, but we work with organisations and individuals on a global basis.