Top Tips

How schools can get the most from working with a recruitment agency

Top 10 Tips for schools on how to work effectively for staff through recruitment agencies

Published on 25th July 2017

Director of recruitment specialists Tripod Education, Martin Donnelly, advises on how to solve your recruitment needs with Top Tips for working effectively with consultants.

While some schools operate their own recruitment policies, some educational establishments choose to work with a recruitment agency to meet their demand for temporary and permanent staffing needs.

There are many reasons as to why a head-teacher may choose to work with a recruitment agency including saving time as hiring staff can be a long, drawn-out, time consuming exercise for time-poor heads.

It is worth investing some time with your recruitment consultant to ensure they can save you time in the long run by only sending suitable candidates for your vacancies.

Here are Top 10 Tips for the best ways to work with a recruitment company and your allocated recruitment consultant.

  1. Do your research – there are many recruitment companies and consultants out there but find which one is best for you. Write down your pre-requisites before you begin your search and then see what agencies match your requirements from online searches and ringing around. Think about all your hiring needs so you are not having to go to different agencies for different staff (unless you choose to). Look for agencies that can cover locum teachers, teaching assistants, permanent posts as well as specific areas of teaching such as Special Educational Needs.

  2. Shop around - speak to a few agencies and find out what they offer. Don’t automatically go with the cheapest as while this may be attractive initially for heads with tight budgets, the cheaper agencies may not have the market knowledge to deal effectively with your requirements, costing you more in the long run if they cannot meet your needs.

  3. Build a relationship - before you sign up with a company agency, try and meet with the consultant who you will be working with. Some consultants will come out and meet you which will enable you a face-to-face meeting, but not all companies offer this so do explore the avenues as to what is on offer. As with any part of your recruitment process, you need to know that you can work with and trust your consultant to work effectively on your behalf.

  4. Market knowledge - find out what the agency looks for when recruiting their consultants. Find out more about the consultants themselves, their backgrounds, previous jobs and market knowledge to ensure they have the skills and experience required to act on your behalf. Some consultants will have made the transition from teaching themselves and have the benefit of an education background, thus knowing the challenges you will be facing with recruitment whereas other consultants may have a sales background and have experience in a variety of sectors rather than specialist education knowledge. Ask for testimonials from previous schools and find out what successes they have had recruiting for similar schools to yours.

  5. Multiple versus exclusive - many agencies operate a ‘no win, no fee’ policy meaning you do not get charged until you have a successful candidate in place. It is therefore possible for you to advertise a job with multiple agencies which may enable you to reach a wider pool of candidates. However, you may also gain duplicate CVs and it could be difficult to manage the process. You may choose to sign up to one agency instead who acts specifically on your behalf, knowing your requirements and how the school runs. It may be worth signing up with larger agencies to manage your day to day needs as they have a wider pool of candidates, but also work with smaller agencies who may have a smaller pool of quality teachers on their databases.

  6. Sell your school - once you have signed up with the recruitment company, set aside some time to spend with your consultant whereby you can brief them on your current recruitment needs, potential needs over the forthcoming year and any plans beyond that. Ensure the person you meet is the person who is going to be working on behalf of your school as sometimes senior consultants may visit schools but the pass the ‘account’ on to more junior members of the team to ‘account manage’ meaning the person you have established the rapport with is not the person you will be working with. Talk to your consultant about how the school runs, its ethos, the type of people you want to attract, the jobs you find difficult to fill – all the information that will help your consultant get the best insight into your school. Some consultants may even want to visit you so they can get a feel of the school for themselves and see how the school runs, but not all companies offer this service.

  7. Job spec – once you are signed up with your agency and your first vacancy arises, produce a detailed job spec for your consultant. This should include job title, salary, type of employment, essential skills needed, preferred skills, key responsibilities, experience required, any scope for growth and promotion. To attract top calibre candidates, you need to sell the school to them too so list the unique selling points of the school for your consultant.

  8. Managing the process - once you have agreed the job spec, agree with your consultant how the process will be managed. Discuss how frequently you want to be updated and by what method – email/phone, outline what time is the best time to speak to you and who the consultant should speak to in your absence. Agree the time frame for closing date/interviews and block out any time in your diary when you need to be available for your consultant during this process.

  9. Interviews – your consultants are likely to attract potential candidates through existing contacts, advertising and head-hunting. They will also screen the candidates for safeguarding as well as their qualifications. Some agencies will suggest a specific process for meeting the potential candidates which may include an interview, a trial lesson or day to see how the candidate fits in or a combination of the two. Agree this in advance and once you have a short-list of candidates, block off days for the interview process and plan what specific questions you want to cover in the interview and what any trial should include.

  10. Nurture your relationship - once you have successfully recruited to this post, don’t forget about your consultant. They will be keen to know how the candidate has settled in and this feedback is vital for your ongoing relationship. Discuss your ongoing recruitment needs, any vacancies or locum cover you may need filling over the next few months and if your requirements are changing at all. The more information you can provide your consultant with, the better match he or she can find for your requirements.


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Taking the stress out of hiring



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