Understanding Recruitment Agencies and How They Work

Understanding Recruitment Atgencies
Contract Job Agencies

Understanding Recruitment Agencies


For contractors, understanding recruitment agencies, their mindset and how they operate, is crucial if you want to succeed in contracting.

If you don’t understand this then you could run into a lot of trouble in your contracting career.

Agencies are not as interested in keeping you happy as keeping the client happy.

UK Contractors should just accept this as a fact of life, instead of moaning and groaning about it, as they normally do.

The agent’s first priority is to get as many people out as possible and to get as much from the contractor as possible.

They want to get other contractors into the client’s site.

Good Contractors at Reasonable Rates

They want to be known to the client as someone who can get very good contractors at very reasonable rates.

Therefore, they are not that interested in possibly annoying the client by pushing for a large rate for you originally and risking not getting the job, or future work from the client.

They are also not that interested in pushing the client for a large increase for you at renewal time.

Understanding Recruitment Agencies Are Not Your Agents

Their interests are very different from yours, and you should never consider them to be YOUR agents.

Contract job atgencies
Contract Job Agencies

That is the mistake that many contractors make.

You have to do the negotiation by yourself.

Contractors’ Agent

That is why I think that there is a role for real contractors’ agents, like footballers have, whose sole role is to negotiate on the contractors’ behalf.

There wouldn’t be a huge amount to be made by the contractors’ agent, e.g. a fee of 10% of any raise agreed, but as the agent wouldn’t do anything else except negotiate, then there would only be a little bit of work every few months, and the contractors agent would get his or her money from representing a lot of contractors.

If they did half a day’s work for each contractor every six months, then they could represent around 250 contractors by themselves, before even considering hiring other contractors’ agents to help them.

Ask Dr. McLaughlin

If you do need any advice on understanding agents (or any other area), then email Dr. McLaughlin on this, and he will reply to it in Dr McLaughlin’s Contractor Surgery.



  1. With regards the utopia of having a proper agent to negotiate on behalf of the contractor. Surely this is what we do already? If I am reading this post correctly, the author believes there is a role for a “proper” agent. An agent who does nothing but rate negotiation for 10% on the uplift. And what negotiating power will he possess from a position of ignorance about the client, the project you are on, the internal political landscape, who the key decision makers are, what budgets are in place etc rather than you just want a rate rise negotiated. Dumbstruck


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