Recruitment Agencies – A Job Hunters Guide

October 27, 2011  |   Career Coaching Blog   |     |   0 Comment

This is a candidates’ guide on how to work with and use recruitment agencies in order to find a job.


We cover the type of recruitment agencies that are out there and the way in which they operate. This will enable you to understand how you need to work with agencies and what to expect.



Types of Recruitment Agencies


Recruitment agencies tend to have some kind of specialism or focus. They may cover all job roles in a particular geographic area. More often they have a particular industry focus, or job type specialism. So for example there are recruitment agencies that focus on roles in telecommunications, IT, Retail or Manufacturing. There are others that specialise by job roles such as; Supply Chain, Sales, Marketing, HR, Graduates or Operations. There is no point in applying to every agency you can find. You need to identify those agencies most likely to deal with vacancies in your job sector or job role. So look on the internet and research the right type of agency for you


How to Apply


You need to treat your application to be put on a recruitment agency’s books as if it was a job interview. So the important things to do are;


  • Have a good CV that is up to date. There is advice on writing a good CV that will get you interviews on this site
  • Make sure you are able to run through your CV within 4 minutes highlighting your key skills and competencies
  • Be clear about the kind of job role you are looking for
  • Make sure you have a view of the salary package that you are looking for
  • Make it clear if you are prepared to relocate for the right role
  • When you apply wherever possible make sure that you speak to one of the recruitment consultants – don’t just send in your CV attached to an email
  • Many agencies are now internet based but you should still call the agency once you have sent in your CV
  • If the agency is interested in you they will call you in for an interview. Make sure you prepare for this interview like any interview you would have with an employer. There is good advice on how to be successful at interviews on this site


How Recruitment Agencies Fill Vacancies for Employers


It is important for you to understand how recruitment agencies fill vacancies for employers. This will explain a lot about the way they work with and treat you. The key things to know are;


  • Employers place a vacancy with an agency to get access to the right candidates.  The agency is paid for putting forward a shortlist of candidates that meet the employer’s specification. This means the employer does not have to waste time sifting through the CVs and applications of unsuitable candidate. Because the agency has met its candidates it also means the employer does not have to do short list interviews.
  • Employers pay the recruitment agency between 10% – 25% of the starting salary of the job as a fee. This might be paid in stages or once an appointment is made. So for a job carrying a salary of £25000 a year a recruitment agency might be paid £2500 (10%) up to £6250 (25%). Because agencies are paid in this way they will only put forward candidates they think most likely to fill a job. So if you do not impress the recruitment agency they will not put forward your CV for jobs
  • You should never be asked to pay an agency to go on their books. They receive their income from employers
  • Recruitment Consultants do not receive a high basic salary; instead in most cases they receive a commission when the employer pays the agency fee. This means that the Consultants’ priority is placing candidates. So if you apply for jobs for which they currently do not have a vacancy you may not hear from them! Alternatively if you apply for a job for which they have a current vacancy you will find you are contacted very quickly – you represent a potential big commission payment!!


Build and Maintain a Strong Relationship


  • So now you know that the recruitment agency will be interested in you if you represent a fee and that a recruitment consultant will only be interested in you if you represent a commission payment. If your skills and experience do not match any job they are trying to fill you will therefore be a low priority
  • With this in mind it is essential that you keep yourself on their radar. This means you need to build a personal relationship with an actual consultant in an agency. If they have called you in for an interview this will be easier because you will have a point of contact. If this doesn’t happen call the agency and ask if you can drop by for a quick meeting with a consultant over a coffee to explain your skills and experience and what you are looking for. Do not ask for a 2 hour meeting because you won’t get it – asking to do it over a coffee indicates a 30 minute meeting, which you are more likely to get
  • Stay in touch with the consultant and update tem on your job search or anything that has changed. You can also discuss with them what the outlook is for the type of role which you are seeking
  • Some people get angry by the lack of response or interest shown by recruitment consultants and they call the agency to complain about the lack of interest. This does not work. All it means is that the consultant is likely to deliberately lose you CV. So be courteous in all your dealings with a recruitment agency


These tips and hints definitely work. They have been taken from advice given by recruitment consultants that our company has worked with in our career coaching practice. Finally do not only rely on sending out your CV to Recruitment Agencies they fill about 20% of available vacancies. Use other routes to get a job. One of the most powerful tools you have is networking. It is estimated that around 70% of jobs are filled this way.

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