5 signs it’s time to move to another recruitment agency

Some recruiters move to other agencies because they want to, some move because they have to. These two reasons are commonly referred to as pull and push factors.

Sometimes it can be tough to pin down the key motivations behind why you’re thinking about making a move, but it’s crucial to flesh these out so you can make sure that the next agency you join is the right fit for you.

In this article, we explore the 5 common signs that it’s your time to make the move.

You’ve hit a glass ceiling 

A glass ceiling occurs when a recruiter hits a point in their role or agency where they feel that growth or development is stagnant or has stalled. There are a few different reasons why a recruiter might start feeling this way.

They could be part of an agency that doesn’t have the platform, reputation or experience working at a very senior level or on the other end of the scale, a colleague may have the remit to focus on senior roles whilst you’re focussing on junior to middle. They may identify that they would prefer to focus on lower volume but senior roles in the long-term.

They may be part of a team that has grown exceptionally, which is of course a positive, but when the desk grows too big, some recruiters may feel limited to a niche area that they previously covered, whether it’s restricted by the practice itself or the geographical coverage.

Another common one is where a manager has been in their position for a while and that prevents the recruiter from advancing further in the hierarchy.

Often there are no qualms when it comes to the business itself and the recruiter might be happy in their current environment, but they have recognised that change is necessary in order to progress their careers. Sometimes this is one of the hardest decisions to make, but it’s a sign.

An issue with your manager

A recruiter’s relationship with their manager is arguably the most crucial factor influencing happiness and performance at work. A manager can play a huge part in the recruiter’s motivation levels and career development.

The interview process is the point where recruiters meet their managers and assess their suitability as a role model, mentor and leader. Can this person provide you with the knowledge, tools, motivation and direction that you need to be successful?

90 – 120 minutes of interviews with a future boss should give a good indication of this, but unfortunately it’s a limited amount of time considering that this is someone you’ll be working with for the next 2 – 5 years, or even longer. You have to take the plunge. Make that decision and analyse how things are tracking a few months or years down the line.

A good manager will lead from the front, provide direction, training and promote a healthy internal culture within the team. Recruitment can be an emotional business at times, so having a manager with a high EQ is also crucial.

Potential issues that might crop up in the future are a straightforward clash of personalities or style of recruitment, subtle favouritism within the team, a feeling that a manager has been promoted too quickly (a tricky one as everyone has to start somewhere), feeling overlooked or under promoted and lastly a specific incident that has soured the relationship.

Change is inevitable within every agency and, unfortunately, this means that managers will come and go. Recruiters who have a strong relationship with their departing manager sometimes move with them.

The first port of call to any management issues, of course, is to try and resolve the issue with the manager. Transparency and honesty are the pillars of any relationship, and this is no exception in a professional capacity. If you feel like you have exhausted all avenues trying to repair the relationship and it hasn’t worked out, then it’s time to look at either transferring desks or moving to a new agency.

Misalignment in recruitment styles

Similar to the above, hopefully the recruiter will have obtained an accurate and truthful insight into the way that their agency practices recruitment during the interview process. Most of the time recruiters can suss it out, but in a few unfortunate cases, there can be a misalignment.

Examples of misalignment in recruitment style could be a disagreement in the targets and KPIs set, if a manager has a different vision or if business is conducted in a way that is deemed to be morally questionable or unethical.

If the agency doesn’t deliver on their core values or expectations, or if any major changes are made, this may be a sign that it’s time to move on.

Shift in company culture and structure

It goes without saying that recruitment is no easy game, so company culture helps to keep motivation levels high. If there is a shift in company culture, this can drastically affect a recruiters’ drive.

Structural changes that cause a drastic shift in day-to-day operations, such as a change in reporting line or a change in hiring strategy, can count as some of the factors that shift company culture. Another one could be a change in leadership, such as the departure of an MD and the entrance of a new one that brings a new style of recruitment. Sometimes the shift can be gradual and can happen over the period of 2 to 3 years rather than immediately.

On the flip side, a change in the recruiters’ lifestyle or a life event may also create a preference for a different type of culture.


Money talks. It’s rarely the sole reason driving a move, but it’s still an important factor to consider.

A common sign is when there is an adverse change in commission structure or word going around in the market that your commission structure is not as attractive as others. The maturing of a recruiter and the realisation that they can make more money in other agencies may happen after 1 – 2 years in their first recruitment role.

Recognising these signs

There are a number of clues which indicate that it’s time to seek new opportunities, whether it’s for career development reasons or misalignments with your current agency. 

Some of these signs may arise immediately, but some may arise over years of tenure and the agency you once joined is no longer the same.

Whatever sign it is, it’s crucial to identify them when they start happening. You can look at the reasons and determine if the problem can be solved, which obviously saves the hassle of resigning, or if the move is needed to advance your career.

Recognising the signs will help you answer the crucial question around your reasons for leaving your current firm in interviews, as well as helping you to determine if you’re the right fit for the new agency.

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