What is a recruitment consultant?


Recruitment consultants assist companies in finding and hiring suitable candidates for job openings.

A recruitment consultant is a professional who helps employers find suitable candidates for job openings, both on a permanent and temporary basis. They act as intermediaries between employers and job seekers, utilising their expertise to match the right talent with the right opportunities. 

Recruitment consultants collaborate closely with employers to understand their hiring needs, job requirements and company culture. Based on this information, they search for potential candidates through various channels, such as job boards, social media and their professional networks. 

Once potential candidates have been identified, a recruitment consultant will assess their skills, qualifications and experience through interviews, screenings and reference checks. They may also administer tests or assessments to evaluate candidates' abilities. They will also provide guidance to both clients and candidates regarding market and salary expectations, training needs and potential career opportunities.  

History of recruitment consultants 

In 1914, UK army recruiters were enlisted to help drive recruitment into the armed forces. These recruiters used a variety of tactics, such as throwing recruitment parties, creating music hall songs and offering ‘pals battalions’ (which allowed people to join with their friends) to entice young men to sign up. During the war, this practice expanded further as recruiters focused their attention on women to fill the vacant roles on the home front.

Be that as it may, the profession did not gain momentum until after the war ended – when there was an increase in demand for skilled workers. As competition surged, companies recognised the need for specialised recruitment expertise. Recruitment consultants therefore started to take on a larger role.  

Today, recruitment consultants provide a wide range of services including talent acquisition, executive search, workforce planning, employer branding and career coaching. By staying up to date on industry trends, salary benchmarks and market dynamics, recruitment consultants can also help clients better understand current hiring challenges, candidate availability and competitive landscapes – making them even more integral to strategic decision making.  

Recent trends in recruitment consultancy  

Virtual recruiting  

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and technological advancements, particularly video conferencing platforms, virtual recruiting has gained prominence in recent years. This has expanded the geographical boundaries of recruitment, as companies are no longer bound by limitations such as physical proximity. Social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, have also contributed to this trend as they allow employers to connect with and learn more about candidates from all over the world. The increase in hybrid and remote working arrangements has also been a factor, as candidates are now more willing to consider roles in other cities or even countries.  

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)  

Applicant Tracking Systems are software applications that streamline and automate the hiring process – making it more efficient and effective. These systems can be used to identify and select candidates based on their educational background, work experience, skills and qualifications. They can also be used to create a centralised database of candidates, making it much easier to search, filter and manage candidate profiles. Some applicant tracking systems have even integrated candidate relationship management (CRM) functionalities, which allow recruitment consultants to track and nurture candidate relationships. Today, 75% of US employers – and 99% of Fortune 500 Companies – use Applicant Tracking Systems to streamline their hiring process.  

Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

Today, automation and artificial intelligence are being used by recruitment consultants to improve overall efficiency. By analysing CVs, assessing qualifications and identifying suitable candidates, AI-powered tools can help streamline the initial screening process. They can also enhance candidate sourcing by searching through vast databases for candidates who match specific criteria. In addition, AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can enhance the candidate experience by answering questions and providing support.  

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)  

In recent years, recruitment consultants have been helping employers implement diversity and inclusion in hiring processes by sourcing diverse candidates and ensuring a fair and unbiased selection process. This is often achieved by incorporating inclusive language in job descriptions, implementing diverse interview panels and specifically targeting diverse talent pools. 

Advantages of using a recruitment consultant  

  • Recruitment consultants have specialised knowledge that allows them to identify and attract top talent 
  • Recruitment consultants can tap into their extensive networks to find the best fit for a position 
  • Outsourcing the recruitment process to consultants can save businesses valuable time and resources 
  • By taking on tasks such as screening CVs, conducting initial interviews and background checks, recruitment consultants allow their clients to focus on core operations 
  • Recruitment consultants provide valuable insights that can guide businesses in making informed decisions and developing effective recruitment strategies 

Disadvantages of using a recruitment consultant 

  • Hiring a recruitment consultant can be expensive, as they typically charge a fee or commission based on the candidate's salary, which can be a significant investment for companies 
  • When a company outsources the recruitment process, it relinquishes some of its control over the selection and evaluation of candidates  

Case study

SThree is a global STEM-specialist talent partner that connects sought-after professionals in life sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics with dynamic organisations. Through a global house of specialist recruitment brands, SThree provides expertise in specific sought-after skills within the STEM industries for both permanent and contract roles. This expertise gives each of SThree’s sub brands a unique advantage in not only understanding the goals of STEM professionals, but of the needs of the companies within their niche.