Shop Carefully for your Recruitment Consultant


I’m sure you don’t need reminding that business - for most sectors - is tough at the moment. The economic uncertainty has taken its toll on business optimism and employers are having to think carefully about any new hires. This change in the research job market has resulted in fewer vacancies with more potential applicants for each role. So, if more people looking for fewer jobs, it is all the more important to work as productively as possible when looking for your next research role.

Market research is an industry that requires people with very special combinations of skills and strong academics. As well as being clever, researchers need other, softer skills (account or team management, for example), not to mention a profound commercial understanding and marketing savvy. However, most Recruitment Consultancies are run on a sales-driven business model, which is not clever. This only looks to develop client relationships, but leaves their candidates feeling rather like commodities to be traded. Many of their candidates will have their details mailed out to clients, often without any idea of the companies and jobs they have applied for.

Finding the right recruiter could best be compared to doing your weekly shop: Lidl or Waitrose - would you opt for volume or quality?

While the Lidl approach may be great for low calibre administration roles or vacancies for manual workers, volume-based recruiters are unlikely to have the time, inclination or industry knowledge to understand the complexities of market research and your experience. This means they will have little idea of how to advise you on your further career development. It goes without saying that they are unlikely to take your personal needs into account: they will instead be looking at their own revenue targets and how much commission they will earn this month.

The Lidl approach rarely involves meeting candidates and interviewing them properly, to find out what they are like and what they want to do next. It can even involve sending out your CV without any prior briefing at all! Researchers, more than most, know that information about you (your CV, for instance) has to be treated ethically: this is not simply compliance with legal requirements but extends to plain simple honesty and respect for candidates.

At CSA Recruitment, we often hear some of our clients say that they now ignore any CVs received from those recruiters with a reputation for this approach – which means, although the candidate may be keen on the client, they haven’t given their CV a second glance, because of its provenance!

Much better to go for the Waitrose approach, where your skills will be understood and where you will be treated as an individual and respected.

But, beware of Lidl recruiters in Waitrose uniforms! Many so-called specialist research recruiters are still volume-driven, sales-based organisations, but in posh tabards! This can mean that they will go through the motions of good practice but behind the scenes the sell! sell! sell! culture prevails.

At the Waitrose end of the spectrum (at the very minimum), you should expect:

  • To be thoroughly interviewed (ideally face-to-face), to evaluate your research experience as well as to discuss your life and career aspirations and the roles that best meet these.
  • To be briefed fully on every suitable role and potential employer. The recruiter must obtain your confirmation that you want to be put forward – before your CV is sent to clients.
  • To get help with refining your CV and presenting your skills and experience as effectively as possible to maximise your chances of an interview.
  • Advice on how best to handle every interview beforehand.
  • Honest discussions about all the interview feedback from your perspective and the client’s. Even when the feedback is negative, you can learn a lot about yourself and refine your job-hunt based on thorough and objective discussion.
  • To discuss the merits of each role and company and to run through the relative benefits and pit-falls of each offer that you get.
  • Help with salary negotiation and how best to handle leaving your current employer and joining the new one.

So - it's up to you: Lidl or Waitrose?

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