Getting the best out of a recruitment consultant

Getting the best out of a recruitment consultant

So, what DO recruitment consultants actually do?

(by Charlotte Taylor)

UK dentistry is currently experiencing a shortage of trained and qualified staff at all levels. So, whether you are hiring or trying to get hired, you’ll probably speak to a recruitment consultant at some point. But what do they actually do? What are the regulations they work within? And how do you get the best from your relationship with them?

We’ve recently hired two new members of staff to help with sales and first-line support. We spoke to several recruitment consultants in the process. Additionally, Cary, the ‘tame nurse’ in our PR team has been experiencing the process from the other side as she looks for a part-time community and public-sector nursing role. So this article is based on opinions from several different perspectives on recruitment. We hope it will provide useful advice and help you improve your recruitment process.


If you run an employment agency or employment business you have to follow certain rules. Most of these rules also apply to businesses that term themselves ‘recruitment consultants’.

HM Government has plenty of advice and pointers about the rules and regulations for Recruitment Consultants

There are a number of regulations covering various types of work, but there are some basic rules that you have to follow, common to all jobs (see below). You can get information about the regulations governing recruitment consultants form a government website:

Things recruitment agencies can’t do include:

  • charge a fee to a work-seeker for work-finding services
  • stop someone from working elsewhere or terminating their contract with you
  • make someone tell them the name of any future employer
  • withhold payments or wages due
  • supply a temporary worker to replace someone taking part in industrial action
  • charge for a uniform without telling the worker in advance
  • make unlawful deductions from pay

Things recruitment agencies must ensure include:

What candidates say

It seems that the key thing for candidates is to be able to trust what recruitment consultants say. One candidate, writing in a conversation on LinkedIn, said; “I believe in honesty above it all. I’d much rather hear the truth than pinky lies.”

This theme is echoed by Cary Cray-Webb; “I’ve spoken to some recruitment consultants who simply haven’t delivered what they promised. If I’m asking for something they can’t help with then I’d rather they just told me. But if they’re honest with me, then even if they are a bit disorganised, that’s who I want to work with.”

What employers say

Peter Chopra started his dental business 20-years-ago, and now has four practices in Kent serving around 40,000 patients. He uses Pearl Dental Software to support his mixed NHS/Private practice, which he continues to expand, and therefore regularly recruits staff, sometimes using recruitment consultants.

“We have never used one until recently, due to the shortage of dental associates at present,” says Peter. “We have had to broaden the net to recruit dentists.” He describes his experience with recruiters as; “Mixed. Some are proactive, others don’t give you any feedback or updates.”

Something that everyone we spoke to agrees on is that it is vital for recruitment consultants to understand their client’s needs. And when the client doesn’t understand those themselves, they need to be able to advise on what is practical and achievable. Only when recruitment consultants have a clear understanding of the client’s needs should they begin reaching out to candidates.

Peter believes in getting other people’s opinions and experiences before engaging with a new recruitment consultant, “Get word of mouth advice from colleagues and look at google reviews.”

What recruitment consultants say

Anne Carter, director of PR and marketing recruitment specialists Carter Ferris, believes the role of a recruitment consultant is to triangulate the different needs and constraints of employers and potential recruits. They should also be trusted as consultants, able to offer good advice to both groups.

What advice would you give an employer about selecting and working with a recruitment consultant?

“Make sure your recruitment consultant has proper industry knowledge and understanding. Ideally, someone who has worked in your industry,” says Anne. “This is important in finding someone for you as we have to understand the technical skillset you need.”

Picture of Henri Clements - Sanctuary Personnel

Henri Clements, Sanctuary Personnel – “Do your research.”

Henri Clements, recruitment consultant, the dental department at Sanctuary Personnel says; “Do your research would be my biggest piece of advice. The main competition [point] across agency work is price – everybody loves to save money, but what are you going to get? A lot of the time the smaller companies will try to undercut a larger company as a way of seeming to be a more attractive prospect. But you have to then look at supply and demand, and the quality of the staff you will be provided with.”

Anne continues; “Build up a relationship with your recruitment consultant. Make sure you can trust each other. Listen to them and take advice from them about what’s realistic and the type of candidate who might fit the bill.”

A good agency will want to work with you and not just ‘sell’ to you. Their whole business model is built on good service and reputation. “As an agency, it’s very hard to clean your name once its tarnished,” says Henri, reflecting a point about reputations within the profession made by Peter Chopra (see above).

What advice would you give a candidate about working with recruitment consultants?

Henri says; “Be honest! If the wage isn’t quite right or the hours need to be adjusted or your struggling with the paperwork, just tell the consultant. It’s as important to them as it is to you! Your consultant wants the best for you, that’s why they have got into this industry. They want to make sure they find you the best role that you want, and without complete transparency, the best outcome can’t be achieved.”

Honesty is a theme echoed by Anne; “Candidates MUST be honest. Be open with the consultant about what you want from your next role, and who you have previously applied to. Honesty saves everyone time, and it works both ways. Be honest with the consultant and accept their advice as their honest opinion.”

Michael Thornton, senior consultant at marketing specialists Brand Recruitment believes that success comes from treating candidates as individuals, and not just someone who ticks a box to match a job description. “Much of marketing is cross-functional and transferable. So – assuming basics are ticked and we’re not discussing CMO positions with graduates – we’re ignoring job descriptions and most of the CV to an extent, and instead, we’re asking people, ‘what do you want from your next role? What’s important to YOU? How can we help find you the perfect new company?’ It’s about giving people the time of day, about getting to know the person behind the CV, and not just matching to keywords.”

While marketing is a creative industry where personality needs to shine through, dentistry is very ‘skills-based’. However, staff retention has become a business-critical issue in a job market where there is a candidate shortage. So it’s important to recruit people who will enjoy working within the practice ‘culture’. As Michael says; “I have had multiple occasions previously when – despite not being the best fit on paper – I’ve found someone their new role and the fit is perfect, but down to personality, drive and individual ethos, not a generic tick-box!”

Would you vary this advice between permanent, freelancer and locum roles?

“Not the message itself,” says Henri. “You just have to be honest. We all want to love Monday. But how it applies, then yes. For a locum, it’s honesty towards rate, availability etc. For permanent its all about the overall package.”

“You have a different relationship with a freelancer,” says Anne. “It’s all about skills and rates. And for clients, it’s all about availability. Recruiters have to have the contacts, the network. They need to reliably fill any gaps quickly. But it’s not just a numbers game in that respect. It’s about having good quality candidates that are a good fit, with the right day rate and availability.”

What’s the role of the recruiter in on-boarding a new starter?

“This varies from company to company,” says Henri. “For me here at Sanctuary Personnel, my role starts with making contact with the candidate via email or phone call. Once contact is made, it is then an open and honest conversation about the role and what it entails and then seeing how it matches to the candidate.

“Next step is to get the candidate registered with us, which entails a face-to-face meeting at their convenience, and then finalising with any additional paperwork needed to get them compliant for the role they will be going into. For example, immunisation checks, DBS, mandatory training etc. So as you can see we are heavily involved with the full process, but we believe this creates a better customer journey due to only speaking to one person.”

Anne believes there is little difference before a candidate starts either a permanent or freelance role, but that a different approach is needed once the candidate becomes an employee. “It’s important to remember that we’re not an outsourced HR team,” she says. “Once a candidate starts a permanent role it’s best to leave them to it and allow the employer to manage their onboarding and induction. But for freelance roles, our job is very different and we stay in regular contact with the recruit to make sure everything is running smoothly and to manage billing, etc.”

Meanwhile, back at Pearl HQ

We’re pleased to announce our newly appointed support analysts, Jay Pretorius and Taylor Southorn. Jay is a permanent member of staff, while Taylor is taking a year out from studying for his degree, and will be focused on helping with upgrades from Pearl Plus to Pearl Dental Software. Next time you call it may well be one of them who answers the ‘phone, so please say hello.

If you have any thoughts, comments or advice about working with recruitment consultants, please email us at

If you would like information about Pearl Dental Software or upgrading from Pearl Plus, please call us on 0116 275 9995

Charlotte Taylor