Career Advice

Everything You Need to Know About Using Recruitment Agencies

Man and woman at a recruitment agency

Job searching is time-consuming and stressful. Weeding through listings takes almost as much time as updating your CV for every job you want to apply for. Not to mention, you’re dealing with competition: nearly half of all UK workers looked for a new job in 2018. Whether you’re exhausted from all the work or are trying to stand out from the crowd, recruitment agencies can be a valuable tool for you. If you’ve never gone this route before, here’s everything you need to know about using recruitment agencies to find your next gig.

What Are Recruitment Agencies?

Recruitment agencies, also called staffing agencies, are businesses that are hired by companies looking to fill open positions. Recruiters at the agency act as the middle person between the employer and the jobseeker.

The recruiter’s job is to understand the role entirely, search for qualified applicants (either via their database, by posting job adverts or actively searching on platforms like LinkedIn), then hold initial screenings. The recruiters then work with the top candidates to optimise their CV, prepare them for an interview and act as the liaison between applicants and the employer.

How Do Recruitment Agencies Work?

As a jobseeker, working with a recruitment agency can take a few different paths. Many agencies list adverts for open positions, which you can apply for like you would any other job. If the agency thinks you’re a good candidate, they’ll bring you in or schedule an initial phone interview.

You can also contact a recruitment agency to let them know you’re looking for a new job and would like them to help you find opportunities. If an agency sees value in your CV and experience, they’ll schedule a meeting to discuss your qualifications and determine your ideal job/company.

If the agency has roles at companies they’re working with, they’ll alert you to see if you’re interested in applying. For very qualified candidates, if there are no current openings, recruiters will contact their network of employers, playing a more active job-searching role on your behalf. It’s important to remember that agencies get paid when you get hired, so they put in maximum effort for these top-level candidates.

Lastly, recruitment agencies might reach out to you, even if you aren’t actively looking. You may have received a message from a recruiter on LinkedIn before. That’s because agencies perform targeted searches for applicants using keywords in various databases. If you posted your CV on LinkedIn or another networking site, you might come up in their search.

As you can see, recruitment agencies can be your advocate throughout the entire job search. If they recommend you for a position, they’ll often help write or revise your CV and personal statement so that it fits the role. They will also advise you throughout the interview and hiring process, ensuring you’re successful in landing the job.

What Are the Costs?  

For jobseekers, recruitment agencies are free. Employers who are looking to fill a position pay agencies to recruit candidates like yourself. Their payment is contingent upon successful placement. Typically, once you’re hired and successfully work in the role for a certain amount of time the recruiter gets paid.

Thanks to this payment model, recruiters are very motivated to find the right candidates — i.e., you. They won’t waste your time setting up an interview for you unless they feel you’re a match, meaning you save time too.

What Are the Benefits?

The greatest benefit of working with a recruiter is direct access to potential employers. When you blindly apply to a position online, you send your CV in along with hundreds of other applicants. Often CVs are weeded out by an applicant tracking system before even reaching human eyes, meaning your chances of getting through are that much harder, even if you are qualified.

A recruiter is your spokesperson — they’ll be open and transparent, and tell you if you’re a viable candidate. They’ll work to ensure you’re as prepared for an interview as possible and get you in front of the hiring manager.

Once you get a job, the recruitment agency will handle the hiring paperwork, and can even offer advice on your employment contract.

Tips for Working With Recruitment Agencies

If you’ve never worked with a recruitment agency, here are a few suggestions to get you prepared:

  • Personalise your CV: Tailor your CV (and personal statement) for each role. If you’re not applying to a specific position, but contacting an agency to start actively looking, then personalise it for your ideal job.
  • Be organised and punctual: A recruiter vouches for you as a candidate and speaks on your behalf to potential employers. Make sure you communicate professionally and show up on time to meetings. While initial interviews at recruitment agencies may seem casual or informal, the recruiter is sizing you up for opportunities. As the saying goes, dress for the job you want, not the one you have.
  • You can work with multiple agencies: Unless you sign an exclusivity contract with a recruitment agency (which is rare), you can work with multiple agencies or recruiters. Just make sure you’re dividing your time wisely.
  • Interview them: Yes, a recruiter will go to bat for you, but remember, their salary depends on your success, so you’re a valuable asset to them. Find the right agency with some initial research; look for reviews from previous jobseekers, ask the recruiter which companies they work with and ask your network for referrals.
  • Ask for (and accept) feedback: If you don’t get a position, ask the recruiter for feedback. They have a relationship with the hiring manager and can get candid remarks on why you weren’t a good fit. Use that feedback to adjust for your next interview. Don’t forget to accept advice on your CV or interview style. Don’t be too sensitive or proud. it’s an agency’s job to make you as prepared as possible.

Using Recruitment Agencies for Your Job Search

Finding a new job is hard work. A recruitment agency can be an invaluable resource in your search. Recruiters have experience within your industry and have high-level contacts at companies that need new talent. It’s in their best interest to place you in the right position. Just remember, when working with a recruitment agency, you’ll get out of it what you put into it, so do your research and put your best foot forward.

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