Can recruitment agencies help or hamper your career?

Every now and again you get a contentious topic when it comes to careers advice in relation to job seeking and recruitment agencies/consultants are certainly no exception.

If you’ve used recruitment agencies before no doubt your opinions will range from some are good, some bad and OMG seriously why did I bother?

Like anything in relation to job seeking, you get back the effort you put in. Remember registering with agencies doesn’t mean you get to put your feet up, have a cup of tea and wait for the job offers to roll in!

What are recruitment agencies? Well recruitment consultancies/agencies differ somewhat from employment agencies. Employment agencies recruit for positions within a specific industry and are more likely to ‘employ’ you i.e. they will ‘hire’ you out to a company and pay your wages. You can take up or leave work with little notice and much more flexibility.

Recruitment agencies or recruitment consultants on the other hand, act as an ‘introductory service’. They may specialise in a range of sectors such as Scientific, Engineering, Logistics, and Health etc. Their role is to try to find the candidate that best matches the employer’s needs.

So recruitment consultants are paid on successful placement of a candidate. You should not have to pay a fee or feel obligated to pay for ‘add-ons’ such as CV checking or interview preparation as a condition of being with them.

So why do employers use recruitment agencies/consultancies?

  • To recruit for a role for which they have little recruitment expertise
  • Get help with recruitment if they don’t have enough staff to do it
  • Quick turnaround may be needed to advertise and place someone in a role


Common gripes about agencies:

Complaints often include not hearing back from agencies, being sent unsuitable positions, being given short notice on start dates, being contacted by other agencies because your CV’s been posted online or not receiving interview feedback. There may be a number of valid reasons for this lack of communication.

So why use Recruitment Consultants?

  • If you’re working full time, recruitment consultants can work to source opportunities on your behalf.
  • Specialist consultancies may have the latest labour market information about their sector and can provide useful CV and application tips.
  • Varied short-term experience with several employers will help you to see if the industry is the ‘right fit’ for you.
  • You may be able to set up work in advance of arrival in a new town or country!


How to get what you want from recruitment consultants!!

  • Manage expectations – Why are you contacting consultants? Research a few, shop around to find the agency that best fits your needs, ask them for details of employers they work with, application tips etc
  • Look for accredited consultancies or consultancies that specialise in the career area you wish to work in.
  • Give recruitment consultants a (careers consultant checked!) up to date CV.
  • Make clear your terms e.g. salary, location, if you would prefer them not to forward your CV to particular companies i.e. your present employer! Or if you do not wish them to post your CV online without your consent.
  • Sign up to more than one recruitment consultancy as they may have different employer links. Make sure you let them know you are doing this, and keep a record.
  • Keep them up to date of your contact details, change of circumstances or constraints as to what you can or can’t do.
  • Ask for feedback but remember this may not always be provided by employers.
  • Keep chasing the consultants for progress – ring or call in on weekly basis. It’s up to you to be proactive!
  • Don’t feel obliged to take on an opportunity if it does not sound right for you, it’s ok to say no.

A final point, don’t just rely on agencies to find you work, make effective use of all available resources to you such as the Careers Service, job websites, social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter as well as newspapers.

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