When should I use a recruitment agency?

business cardWhen you’re looking for a job, it’s tempting to sit back and let someone else do the work on your behalf. But if you’re thinking of applying through recruitment agencies (or consultants, as many prefer to be known), you’ll need to do a bit of work yourself as well.

It’s worth remembering that recruitment agencies work on commission: this means they are working first for the employers, who pay their fees, not for you. So finding the perfect job for you, as an individual, is not top of their ‘things to do’ list. On the other hand, they will work proactively on your behalf if they think you are someone they can place easily.

This means it is worth putting in the work to find the right match. It’s a good idea to sign up with more than one agency, but choose them carefully to make sure they have access to the sort of jobs and employers you are looking for.

When you first contact an agency, sell yourself as if it were a real interview and explain exactly what you want. Treat your consultant with respect and build a good rapport with them. Make sure you keep in touch, and respond quickly when they contact you about a specific job – they work to tight deadlines.

The big advantage of using recruitment agencies is that they will have access to jobs that may not be advertised directly by the employer. Many recruiters prefer to use consultancies than to put out a job advert in their own name, because it’s easier and more cost-effective or because they want to keep a low profile. This is more likely in the current market, when they don’t want to be swamped with hundreds of applications to sift through.

Agencies can also be useful if there is a particular sector or role you want to get into. Specialist consultancies will have an in-depth knowledge of their sector and can advise you on your  prospects within it. They like to be seen as experts and you can often find useful market information, including salary scales and recruitment trends, published on their websites.

Of course, not all companies use agencies for graduate-level recruitment. So, as with everything else, don’t rely on this as your only method of job hunting.

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