How to Choose a Recruitment Agency – As a Candidate

There are two different kinds of candidates, those who are already working but seeking something better and those who don’t have employment. 

Whatever type you belong to there comes a point when you start feeling the pressure and may start panicking.

The money is running low or you’ve spent an enormous time trying to find a job, with no luck. But don’t despair, since there is something else you can do.

The solution to your trouble is finding a suitable recruitment agency which will help you find employment.Putting things in the hands of professionals when it comes to finding employment is a trend which is becoming more popular every day.

Employers sometimes prefer this method in finding staff – rather than hiring people who knock on their doors or send CVs or resumes the conventional way.

So – how do you choose the right employment agency to ensure your best representation in the job market?

10 Tips for Choosing An Agency

Choosing the best recruitment agency means finding one that will best suit your needs. Finding the right agency may seem a tiring process but there are some things you need to keep in mind which can help ease your choice.

  • Ask your business associates and your other contacts for agencies they have used or recruiters they know. You can also check popular job boards to see which agencies post for jobs.
  • Make a list in Excel and fill up details like names, emails, contact numbers, location and so on. You can easily find this information on the company’s website or via Linkedin. Update this list at regular intervals or whenever you get new information.
  • Think about your requirements and expectations that you want the agency to provide.
  • Contact several different agencies to find out about the services they offer for candidates with your background.
  • You should have an honest and open communication with the recruiter so be clear about your experience, qualifications, the type of company you want to work for, its location and your salary requirements.
  • It is important that you’re able to trust your agency so don’t hesitate to ask them about references. Then talk to those candidates that they have placed in the past to understand their experiences with the agency.
  • The recruitment agencies have a staffing representative called a headhunter or a recruitment consultant, whose job is to identify your skills so they can match them with an employer looking to fill an open job position. This is the person you will work with during your search so you should work on ‘selling’ your experience – and qualifications to them since they’ll be representing you in the eyes of the employer. This person should be a specialist in the sector you’re in, have a thorough understanding of your previous history, technical terms which people in your sector use, the company that they represent which offers the job, and the position you’re applying for so don’t hesitate to assess them. The quality of the headhunter is what is most important.
  • Try to choose an agency which offers resume/CV preparation and marketing services. Some agencies do this for free while some may charge. You can also ask for help to prepare you for the interviews.
  • Also make sure that the agency you want to subscribe to has a license or accreditation. This is to make sure that they follow a common code of conduct or industry standards.
  • Find out which recruitment software or ATS the agency is using. Generally agencies that are using the latest technologies are more efficient and responsive.

Take these things into consideration when you make your decision but only subscribe if you are comfortable with the agency.

Views: 331

Comment by Tim Spagnola on February 4, 2014 at 10:20am
Good post Al
Comment by Tim Spagnola on February 4, 2014 at 10:21am
Sorry.....Alok. I have to say having spent 12 years on the agency side I never once received a request for references from a candidate. I'm curious as to how common this practice might be. Any RBC members get this type of request?
Comment by Tom Bolt on February 4, 2014 at 11:20am

All of these points are important, but one factor is missing: it implies without saying it that the agency you choose becomes your exclusive agent in the job market. This may be true for some disciplines, but not for most.

1. For a job seeker there could be a limiting factor by putting all your eggs in one basket. In fact, most agencies will tell you up front that they work for the clients that pay them and not the other way around. This is not to say that good recruiters will not work their buns off to place you.

2. As a matter of ethics [and sometimes contractually] not all agencies can work with all companies. Multiple agencies may give the job seeker a better chance at market penetration, but in some narrow fields you want to be careful about diluting your chances by having multiple recruiters claiming exclusivity over your placement. 

As a recruiter, I honestly would not want to see you placed at one of my clients by a competitor, but if that happens the blame is on me for not being responsive. As a job seeker advocate, I have to advise that you never want to relinquish control of your job search to anyone.

Oh, and Tim: I have never been asked for references although it would seem to be a good idea. 

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on February 4, 2014 at 3:12pm

Thanks, Alok. It's my impression that if you and your background have a visible web presence and they think they can make a placement fee, they'll call YOU. Likewise, if you're out there, and you're NOT being called by recruiters, then you probably aren't a good prospect for them.

Comment by Linda Ferrante on February 5, 2014 at 1:46pm

Three points I'd like to address here.  First: I would NEVER give a candidate reference to a prospective candidate, unless they knew each other.  This can be considered 'personal' and I would never betray a trust of an employee without their permission, of course.  Second: There are no licences or accreditation's per se for recruiting companies or recruiters individually.  You can belong to various groups, but that has no bearing on the quality of your work.  Third:  ATS software has NOTHING to do with the quality of your placements.  Nothing.  None.

Bottom line, you should work with a recruiter who you feel comfortable with, trust, and works in your field and/or with the companies you want to work for.  Everything else is even more subjective. 

Comment by Alok Mehra on February 6, 2014 at 12:49am

@Tim, yes that's a valid point. References may not be that common but we have seen that come up a few times. I guess it depends on the geography / industry you are operating in and what the cultural nuances are, if any.

@Tom, that's true...a job seeker cannot limit himself or herself with one agency. It has to be a multi-channel approach.

@Keith, that's also correct. Sometimes the good candidates are passive job seekers. If they're more technical there is a higher chance of good web visibility, but some profiles may not be updated regularly. Perhaps this is one reason why Linkedin has been really successful...

Comment by Alok Mehra on February 6, 2014 at 1:27am

Thanks Linda for offering a different perspective. There is no single formula which works for every agency, recruiter, or candidate, but as you said trust is key.


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