This is the first ranking of UK recruiters based on recommendations by clients and peers to be produced by the Financial Times and German data provider Statista. It rates consultants and job portals in 13 sectors.

The results are based on two surveys conducted by Statista, one of recruitment firms’ candidates and clients, and another of their peers. These were conducted among external recruiters (headhunters, human resources consultants, staffing experts), company HR managers who are clients of recruitment agencies (including senior personnel in charge of staffing), and candidates who secured a job through an agency.

In total, 154 companies were rated in 13 categories with a gold, silver or bronze award depending on recommendations received.

The methodology (after the table) explains how the ratings were determined.

Methodology and notes

Market definition
This is a ranking of recruitment agencies and online job portals advertising vacancies and/or providing executive search, professional search and temporary staffing services in the UK.

Sectors listed
Executive search; professional search; temp staffing; biotech and pharma; business and professional services; education; energy and renewables; engineering and industry; financial services; health and social care; high tech and IT; hospitality; oil and gas.

The ranking is based on two surveys: one of peers (recruiters employed in recruitment agencies) and another of clients and candidates referred by recruitment agencies. Both surveys were conducted online.

Peer survey
To compose the longlist, Statista used the Recruitment & Employment Confederation membership directory (, and agency lists on CV-library ( and Headhunters UK as sources ( It was also possible to register for the survey on The sample size comprised 7,000 recruiters in the UK.

Invitations to participate in the survey were sent via email. The research ran from April 17 until June 18 2023. Recruiters could make recommendations in service categories, such as executive search, professional search and temp staffing, as well as in 10 industries.

An auto-complete function was available to assist selection of agencies. Respondents were also able to recommend agencies. Recommendations in each sector and service were counted. An overall score was given to each group based on the number of positive and negative recommendations it received. Self-recommendations were excluded.

Client and candidate survey
Following the survey of peers, roughly 1,500 HR specialists and candidates who have used a recruitment agency took part in an online survey. They were enrolled through an online access panel. The research lasted from April 24 until June 18 2023.

Respondents were asked to indicate the sectors or services for which they had used a recruitment agency in the past three years. They were then asked to recommend recruiters by using an autofill list, or by adding them. They were asked to evaluate the recruitment agencies on various items, using a five-point scale (very poor to very good) and could recommend a score (zero, for “would not recommend”, to 10, for “would entirely recommend”). Only positive recommendations were considered.

In each sector and service category, the agencies were sorted by the number of recommendations received (total recommendations for an agency in the respective category). The companies were sorted into classes based on average number of recommendations per sector or service:

• Recruitment agencies that received recommendations from peers, clients, and candidates well above the respective average were sorted into the gold class, denoting “very frequently recommended”;

• Recruitment agencies that received recommendations from peers, clients and candidates less frequently, but still clearly above average, were sorted into the silver class, denoting “frequently recommended”;

• Recruitment agencies that still received more than the average number of recommendations from peers, clients, and candidates, were sorted into the bronze class, denoting that they were “recommended” within their industry or sector.

• Recruitment agencies with an insufficient number of recommendations were excluded.

Job portals
Online portals could be recommended via an auto-complete list or entered manually. Additional key performance indicators on website traffic were incorporated into the scoring. Only portals that received a minimum number of recommendations were considered.

The ranking consists exclusively of recruitment agencies and job portals with a sufficient number of recommendations — a mention is therefore positive and indicates a vote of confidence. The quality of recruitment agencies or job portals that are not included in the list is not disputed.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2024. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Follow the topics in this article