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How to find a job: Recruitment agencies

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Thanks to their industry knowledge and employer contacts, recruitment agencies can aid your job hunt…

What is a recruitment agency?

A recruitment agency can help with your job search, whether for temporary or permanent employment. Companies who use agencies to assist with their recruitment expect candidates with specific skills related to the job to be put forward by consultants. If you're using an agency as a job seeker, they remain the point of contact between yourself and the company. When a job offer is accepted by the successful candidate, the agency is paid an agreed sum by the employer.

Should I use a recruitment agency?

Recruitment consultancies are a good resource to support your career search, but it's important you don't rely solely on them. Keep your eyes peeled for jobs advertised elsewhere, and don't forget to apply speculatively to companies you'd like to work for.

There are benefits of using a recruitment agency, though. Specialist sector consultancies often have a good knowledge of their industries and can provide tips that might boost your application. They are also particularly well-connected in their field, so your CV - if relevant - can be distributed to a range of employers on your behalf.

Make sure you ask questions about the opportunity presented to you by the agency - the demand to supply a number of relevant candidates to the employer may result in them mismatching you against some of the criteria. Trust your instincts - if you don't believe the job would be suitable, be honest with the consultant from the outset.

It's important to note popular fields, such as the media sector, are unlikely to use recruitment consultancies as they have such a high demand for jobs without the added help.

How can I find graduate recruitment agencies?

You can locate consultancies across the country - specifying what industry you're most interested in - using the following resources:

How do I choose an agency?

There are a large number of agencies that assist businesses with recruitment, but it's important to whittle down your options. Look for agencies that cover specific geographical areas. If you're looking to stay in a particular part of the country, search for consultancies that work in the region. Bigger companies recruit nationally, so don't rule these agencies out either.

It's also important to choose an agency based on its industry expertise, as it will have more niche clients and a better knowledge of the sector that it can share with you.

Always check that the agency is a member of the professional industry body, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

How do I join an agency?

Once you've got a list of recruitment agencies you think may be able to help with your job hunt, make initial contact by phone or email. If you're sending an email, write a cover letter and attach your CV, explaining what type of position you're looking for and an overview of the skills and qualifications you possess. You could call shortly after submitting it to confirm they've received your message.

You may be asked to attend an informal interview to further assess your suitability. Occasionally - and often more commonly for temping agencies - you might also be asked to take short skills tests, to assess your spelling and level of IT.

Your details will be added to a database of candidates if the agency feels they'll be able to assist in your search.

Keep in touch as your job search progresses and maintain a good rapport with your consultant. It's also wise to let the agency know when you no longer wish to be on their books, as they'll still be contacting you long after your job search comes to an end.

Can I join more than one job agency?

You can join as many agencies as you like, but avoid registering for the sake of it. Choosing to work with a select amount of consultancies will avoid the feeling of getting 'spam' calls and emails with jobs that you aren't suited to. There's also the danger of a number of recruiters working to fill the same positions, so you're likely to be put forward to the same job by more than one agency.


Further information

Written by Editor, Graduate Prospects
February 2014

Graduate jobs


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