I’ve been speaking at job seeking and career workshops for over three years now and one of the most controversial and popular sessions has always been working with Recruitment Agencies.
My sessions rely heavily on audience participation as we break down experiences, perceptions and expectations, culminating in positive ways to work better in partnership.
Lately though, many candidates are questioning whether they should even bother working with agencies at all, with several reluctant to apply to agency job advertisements or making a proactive call to register.
I make one thing very clear: you need to use every available channel open to you to find your next job.
I’m certainly not saying you should rely on an agent to find it for you, in fact in other sessions I lead we look at how to get proactive, network both off and online and make more opportunities, but I think employers will be using agencies for the foreseeable future and here’s my view as to why:
1- Cost. Many companies still don’t have a dedicated resource to recruit, as most agencies are only paid when the person has started in the role, the recruitment fee can still cheaper than funding that internal employee.
2- Even if outsourced, other external recruitment agencies are still used to fill more difficult vacancies in order to meet the needs of the client. This could be down to location / geography, areas of specialism or level of seniority in which an agent may have a more extensive network than the recruiter on site. The direct recruiter may only deal with say a procurement position once every couple of years, whereas a specialist agency would deal with this type of role daily.
3- Time. If the position is time sensitive and the direct model not able to produce fast enough results, widening the net to agency recruiters puts more resources on the case and the role communicated to many more people in a shorter space of time.
4- Secrecy. Not every role can be transparent in the market. Due to sensitive issues like a potential new product launch, relocation, reorganisation, agents maybe used to confidentially test or approach a particular individual or market. They can also sometimes engage with direct competitors of a client which would otherwise be deemed inappropriate.
5- Overwhelm. An advert isn’t necessarily successful if it generates a huge response. Many clients cannot respond, sift and qualify the numbers of applications they are receiving. It is more cost effective and timely to go out and find the few rather than attract the many.
6- Costly mistakes. Agency fees are subject to rebate dependent on the tenure of the candidate in the position.
7- Contractual issues. Temporary staff and contract staff pose less risk to the client if provided by a third party who agrees the terms of their provision.
8- Qualification. Good agencies who meet and assess candidates and who are trained and experienced in interviewing can provide so much more than the CV. They can speed up the process making sure all candidates interviewed are vetted for the role applied for highlighting areas of potential strength and weakness rather than just a keyword match.
9- Specialist knowledge. More than just a network honed to location / geography, areas of specialism or level of seniority, agency recruiters, in order to stay competitive, must develop their sourcing skills. They need to keep abreast of changes in employment legislation, technical researching skills, social media tools and changes to the industries they recruit in. They can provide competitive information in their markets on the skill shortages, salary ranges and marketable skills.
10- Relationships. Good agency recruiters will know some candidates and clients over their entire careers. They can therefore access these candidates and clients time and again. Some can also match personalities and working styles.
Agencies can unlock the hidden job market and access the inactive candidate which can be of mutual benefit to all three.
If I was looking for my next move I would want to use every advantage and connection open to me. I would certainly not ignore those whose very job and career success depended on them building the very relationships and connections that could help me the most.