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How to Work with a Recruitment Agency

Employment Application ImageWhether you’re a first year student looking for temporary employment, a recent graduate or an experienced professional, there are many ways to go about your job search. Read on to find out why a using recruitment agency is a popular option.





Why use a recruitment agency?

Plain and simple, they cut down on the ground work that you have to do. Rather than trawling websites or walking around your local town centre handing out CVs, they do the work for you. Some employers only use recruitment agencies so you could find some otherwise unadvertised positions.

How do they work?

You may be required to complete a form or undergo an interview to give the recruitment agency more information about your skills and abilities. Some agencies may ask you to take an IT test to test your proficiency in MS Office or specialist software. They will then find suitable vacancies according to your preferences and the agency will, with your consent, forward your CV to companies for consideration. If successful they will then arrange an interview for you. These can often be arranged at short notice.

What are the positives?

A good recruitment agency will get to know you and a specific member of the team should be appointed to look after you. They will try and draw out your strengths and ensure that they are included in your CV – remember that the Careers and Placements Service can also help you with your CV, every day during the week. A recruitment agency can also help you to dissect job descriptions; these can sometimes be pretty unhelpful and lack information. The recruitment agency can let you know exactly what the job is so you know whether it is right for you.

What are the negatives?

One size doesn’t fit all – you are unique and so are your career goals. Some agencies can lack that personal touch and if you feel they haven’t spent the time to really get to know you, they are probably not the right choice. Recruitment agencies basically act as a go-between and depending on their size can represent hundreds if not thousands of people. This is not for everyone and some people do not like not having control. Many recruitment agencies will work on a commission basis so they only get paid if they find suitable staff for the employers they are representing. Never feel pressured to commit to attending interviews for jobs you are unsure about. Always ask to see the job description and be prepared to tell the agency you will get back to them.

What are the rules?

A recruitment agency should never charge you – not for registering with them and not for finding you a position. They make money from the employer who pays them to deal with the recruitment process on their behalf – never exchange money with a recruitment agency. Visit The Recruitment & Employment Confederation for full detailed information on the rules Recruitment Agencies must follow. A few recruitment agencies will be attending the University of Hertfordshire Autumn Careers Fair on 24th October. Use Agency Central to search for specialist agencies.

What are the alternatives?

There is the good old traditional method of applying directly to employers advertising a vacancy. The Careers and Placements Service can also help you put together a speculative application which you can send to a company you would like to work for in anticipation of positions which may arise in the future.

Registering for sites that can send you jobs by email alert helps you keep stay in the know about what’s out there. There are many professional, networking groups out there such as LinkedIn. Facebook also has many alumni groups – these are good alternative methods of networking and researching to find the perfect job for you.

Image of Katharine Littlefair

Katharine Littlefair is a Careers and Placements Officer in the Careers and Placements Service at the University of Hertfordshire

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