Finding Best Recruitment Agencies in 5 Actionable Steps

I am sure you have reviewed many lists and blog posts searching for the best recruitment agencies. Each one providing a long list with not much information about the selection process.

If you are looking for a practical way to find the best recruitment agencies for your company’s needs, then you’ll love this blog post. It offers a simple way to find and decide on the best recruitment agency for you.

Let us start by saying that there is no such thing as universal best recruitment agencies. No one company can be good at finding every type of talent everywhere in the world. Moreover, different companies have different working and communication styles that don’t necessarily match your own.

So how do you know which one is right for your needs?

1. Decide on the location of the position and use a local recruitment agency

Why local you ask? When recruiting internationally, local recruitment agencies know the local talent best, can speak their language and have an existing relationship with the right talent.

Don’t take only our word for it, take a look at what ERE Recruiting Intelligence have to say about recruiting with local focus:

For an example of how to find local recruitment agencies, you can check out our blog post on how to find recruitment agencies in Germany.

2. Decide on the type of recruiter you want to work with

You can categorize recruitment agencies into 4 types:

  • Database recruiters
    • Description: These are agencies that have developed a candidate database and are trying to sell it. They usually employ entry-level staff that gets paid on a commission basis to send many CVs until one sticks.
    • Fit for: Entry-level positions and for cost focused employers that don’t mind reviewing many CVs.
  • Capability recruiters
    • Description: Agencies or independent recruiters that have developed expertise or experience in a specific capability (usually sourcing or screening methodologies). Although they don’t specialize in a specific niche, they are able to command prepayment or hourly payment thanks to their strong reputation in the market. This reputation brings them enough customers that are willing to pay in advance.
    • Fit for: Entry and mid-level positions. Bear in mind that they don’t have the deep knowledge in the needed specialty (e.g. sales). Therefore, they are most suited for companies that have internal capabilities to assess the needed skill-set.
  • Niche recruiters
    • Description: Firms that are focused around a specific niche (e.g. IT). Such agencies developed a deep understanding of the niche they specialize in and represent a great balance between cost and quality.
    • Fit for: Positions that require specific knowledge and experience to assess a high-quality candidate. They are also great for companies that want external skills assessment since they have the expertise in assessing talent in their specific niche.
  • Expert recruiters
    • Description: As the name suggests, they are the experts in their chosen field. They are usually industry veterans with significant experience, reputation and/or powerhouses with decades of experience such as Egon Zehnder.
    • Fit for: Senior positions or high specialty positions that require headhunting.

So how do you decide which one is right for you?

You should first decide on your budget. If your budget is lower than the common pay for a recruiter in the country, you might want to look at Database recruiters or Capability recruiters. Their lower level of specialization usually means they have a lower price tag then niche or expert recruiters.

If you are going to choose to work with either Niche or Expert recruiters, we recommend that you decide what is the needed specialization. Recruiters can either specialize by function (e.g. sales or HR) or by sector (e.g. shipping or tech).

3. Finding best recruitment agencies based on the criteria above

Now that you have a pretty good idea for what type of recruitment agencies you are looking for, it is time to find a few agencies that can help you find the best talent fast. You have several options how to do this. We will focus on the main two:

Conducting your own research

You can start by web searching, using search words that include everything you are looking for (e.g. “sales recruitment agencies london”).

Remember that when you are looking for recruitment agencies in countries whose native language is not English, it is always best to search in the native language.

If you are lucky, you might strike gold and find the right recruitment agency on the first few results. However, keep in mind that you might need to go deep and review dozens of pages to get some level of reasonable results.

Sit back, relax and let Emeraldo Seeker recommend best recruitment agencies for you

When we searched for good recruitment agencies, we didn’t like spending hours web searching only to come up short. That’s why we invented Emeraldo Seeker. Seeker not only saves you 5 hours of web search on average, it also saves you weeks of time and money on the next steps interviewing and reference checking.

4. Interview

When interviewing recruitment agencies, we recommend assessing the following:

  1. Specialization
  2. Typical customers (size and industry)
  3. Sourcing and screening process
  4. Candidate interview process
  5. Typical timelines for the process
  6. The way of communication with employers
  7. Past successful placements
  8. How they measure success
  9. Their input on the position you want to recruit – challenges they see
  10. Guarantee (both period and who will handle the recruiting in case it is invoked)

Stress test these responses as much as you can. For example, if an agency tells you they know how to recruit accountants, ask them how many accountant positions they have filled in the last 12 month.

You can also try and ask for a sample candidate. It does not always work but it is always worth a try.

5. Ask for references

Always ask to speak with references, preferably with similar placements you are going to work on. You might think an agency will only provide satisfied customers but you would be surprised at how powerful speaking to references can be:

We recommend asking 2 simple questions:

  1. Customer satisfaction to really understand their satisfaction: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much would you recommend this agency to a colleague?”
  2. Where you always satisfied with the service? If not, can you please elaborate?

If you speak with 3 references and ask these questions, chances are you will get a good picture of the recruitment agency caliber.

When you use the Emeraldo Seeker product, we do the in-depth vetting of each recruitment agency – including both agency interviews and reference interviews. To get 3 good matching agencies, we sometimes go through vetting nearly 45 recruitment agencies.


Very few recruiters are a jack of all trades and know how to recruit well for different types of positions. Therefore, there are no universal best recruitment agencies. But there are the right agencies for your specific company and the specific role you are looking to recruit.

We have outlined all the steps you can take to find that right agency for you. As you have probably noticed, it takes a huge amount of effort to find the right recruitment agency for your unique requirements. Instead of searching for weeks, you can use our free Recruitment Agencies Seeker – we find and match the right recruitment agency for your needs that you can continue working with for years to come.

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