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How to tell if a recruitment agency really cares about your career progression

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There’s a difference between a ‘job’ and a ‘career’, and while many people are content with just doing a job, most of us in recruitment want a career. We want long-term progression, challenges and accolades – and we’re willing to do whatever it takes to get there.

Of course, most companies say they care about your progression. They’ll blandly tell you that there are development opportunities for those who want them, and that there’s plenty of space for your ambition. But how can you tell if they’re only paying lip service?

These 5 questions will help you determine if a company will really help you go all the way.

How do you get promoted?

You probably already ask this question in interviews in a roundabout way, but the key is to be specific. Don’t ask if there are promotion opportunities. Ask how you get promoted. At IDEX, we have clear career blueprints that tell you exactly what you need to do to move up. People have the opportunity to present for promotion every 9 months. Promotions aren’t just based on fee-earning success, either – they’re based on quality service, both in terms of ratios and client testimonials. If a company can’t give you a straight answer, or they talk vaguely about ‘going above and beyond’, then they’re likely all talk and no walk when it comes to promotion.

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How do you progress?

Progression isn’t always linear. It doesn’t need to involve standard promotion. Maybe you take on additional responsibilities. Maybe you take a course or get a qualification. Maybe you start getting more international opportunities.

While it’s important to ask about promotion, it’s also important to ask about progression, and what concrete systems are in place to help you develop in your career and skills.

How many people were promoted last year?

It’s all well and good knowing how to get promoted, but if no one has been promoted in the last 12 to 24 months then it suggests that the process isn’t as transparent as the company makes out.

31% of IDEX employees received some kind of promotion last year, which shows not just that we have opportunities, but that our employees are actively encouraged to go for them.

What does an example development plan look like?

We use career blueprints to help our consultants reach their goals. Other agencies might use other terms, but it’s important they have a visible system in place to map out progression and development.

Seeing an example blueprint or development plan will give you a clear idea of how seriously they take progression – and how achievable it is.

What metrics are you measured against?

Recruitment is a target-based industry. But the metrics a company chooses say a lot about their attitude towards progression.

If you’re given a list of KPIs based around the number of calls made or CVs sent, then the company probably doesn’t care about anything other than getting numbers on the board.

If your targets are based around relationship-building and tailored to your area and experience, then that’s a good indication they care about you and your career – not just your numbers.

Why these questions matter

The exact answers to these questions matter. But it’s also important to see if they can give you concrete answers in the first place. The more detailed a company’s responses, the more transparent their processes are. And transparency, as everyone knows, is key when it comes to enabling your successful career.

Take a look at IDEX’s career development framework

Contact Richard on or 0333 700 4339 for a confidential chat about promotion and progression opportunities in Birmingham, Manchester, London and Scotland.