Using a recruitment agency
Using a recruitment agency might seem like a good way of getting someone else to do all the leg work when job hunting - but you need to make sure you're in control to get the best out of the situation.
What do recruitment agencies do?
They work on behalf of employers to find suitable candidates for vacant positions. Some agencies specialise in particular industries, while others cover a range of sectors.
What will happen when I register with an agency?
You'll usually have a one-to-one interview with a recruitment consultant to find out what kind of job you're looking for, and what skills and experience you have. You may also be asked to complete a test of some sorts, such as a typing assessment if you're applying for an administration job.
How can I make myself stand out as an effective candidate?
Darryl Shires from the recruitment agency Manpower says jobseekers should treat their meeting with a consultant as if they were attending a formal job interview. "It's crucial the right impression is created at the outset," he said. "To stand out, candidates need to know what their skills are, have an idea of what they want and ensure their CV is up to date. Motivation and desire to succeed cannot be underestimated."
Should I ever pay to use a recruitment agency?
No. Recruitment agencies in the UK are paid by the employers for whom they provide suitable candidates. If an agency asks for payment, find another one. For added security, use an agency which has signed up to a professional code of conduct.
Recruitment consultants can often get you further through the door with an employer than a speculative CV would.
Can I register with more than one agency?
Yes - and you should, to maximise your chances of finding a job.
Will the agency find me a job straight away, or will I have to go for interviews?
For casual and temporary work, you might be taken on by an employer straight away. But for a full-time, permanent job, you'll usually be required to attend an interview with the company first. If you've been registered with your agency for a while and they haven't found you any work, talk to your recruitment consultant to find out why. It may be that there isn't enough of the type of work you want in your local area, so you'll have to think about other jobs you would be willing to take.
Which recruitment agencies should I go for - a big national chain or a local company?
There are benefits to both, according to Tom Hardy from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation. "Local agencies will know the local jobs market, but if you know you want a job in a specific industry, for example public relations (PR) or advertising, consider using a specialist agency, as they will have a lot of contacts in that field," he said.
What are the advantages of using a recruitment agency?
Recruitment consultants can often get you further through the door with an employer than a speculative CV would. And because some employers carry out their recruiting solely through agencies they can give you access to jobs that aren't advertised in the open market.
Are there any disadvantages?
Agencies work on behalf of employers, so their role is to fill positions for their clients - and, while most will try to find you the kind of job you want, some may try to convince you to go for interviews that you know aren't right for you, just to fill numbers. Be open-minded, but don't feel pressured into going for the wrong kind of jobs. There are lots of agencies out there, so if you don't like the way one operates, you can always move on to another.
By Sophie Freeman
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