Everybody gets to be a job seeker in their adult life! I have had the privilege of being a job seeker, the employer who is looking to hire someone for a job and the recruitment agency that is looking
for the right person for the job. Recruitment agencies do not have the best
reputation out there and they do little to cover themselves in glory. Their
purpose is to serve both the hiring company and the job seeker’s best interests.
It requires a strong ability to balance a conflict of interest if you serve two
masters. Most people actually believe the recruitment agency serves the hiring
employer and not the interests of the job seeker. Personally, I do not have any
confusion as to whom I serve as for me both are equally as important for my
success to be sustainable. Given the experience people have had when they are
looking for a job, I can see why the belief system of “recruitment agencies do
not work for you” reigns supreme.



Job seekers can be managed much better in the recruitment process and today’s practices leave me wondering what has happened to the human element in this critical Human Resources Management function. Companies
have values which revolve around people and yet in this process where the
intention is to attract the right fit person for a job, prospective candidates
are treated less and less like people. I can say with confidence that not all
recruitment agencies are sharks (including those branded as Head-hunters albeit
the name is misleading). Not all hiring companies are arrogant and think they
are doing you a favour giving you a job opportunity. Not all job seekers are a
waste of time to sit down with to interview and look to understand what it is
they would like to do.



It is fair to acknowledge and apologise for the following mysterious happenings that you might experience while you search for a job:



  • · Why doesn’t the best person for the job get called for an interview anymore? The CV management
    process is automated. You will register your CV or resume and the first time
    someone sees it would be through a search function. The use of keywords
    increases the likelihood of a search engine picking up your CV when someone
    looks for certain skills and this has many agencies and employers no longer
    retrieving the best experienced person’s CV. The person who knows how to
    optimise the use of keywords relative to the job will have their CV pop up.

  • · Your CV is only going to be as good as the person who gets to eyeball it first after it being fished
    from the system that has millions of CV’s. If that person does not understand
    the job itself, what are the chances of them understanding who has the ability
    to do the job based on looking at a CV? You need to get a sense as to the
    process after you register your CV with a recruiter or a hiring company.

  • · Deadlines are chased at the expense of doing the job right. Some companies have a cut off as to when
    they will accept CV’s by and in turn recruitment agencies work to that rather
    than searching for the right person. I have heard enough times of job seekers,
    who if they are lucky, get a two minute phone call about “an opportunity”.
    Thereafter their CV is submitted to the prospective employer without any
    interview taking place with the recruitment agency. Sometimes your CV is submitted
    without any discussion or your consent, so you lose control of who gets your
    CV. The fact that your CV in the wrong hands could cost you your current job
    does not get taken into consideration by some recruitment agencies.

  • · Recruitment agencies themselves don’t get back to you when you apply for a specific job. If you are
    lucky you get an automated response, which does not make you any the wiser as
    to why your application was unsuccessful. The communication value is weak in a
    job search, be it the employer communicating with the recruitment agent or the
    recruitment agency communicating with the job seeker. I get the sense that
    people do not want to be the bearer of bad news, but people do not like
    uncertainty so they would rather hear the bad news and get closure.

  • · When you do engage the recruitment agency in person, there is the frustration of them not listening. For
    example, after having been clear that your experience is in Corporate Finance,
    and you want to move out of that space, they insist on submitting your CV for
    Corporate Finance roles. This reminds me of the Real Estate agent whom I told I
    do not want a face brick house and I do not want a house on a main road. Guess
    what the first “gem” was that she showed me?

  • · Some agencies will refer to you as stock. Your CV will be part of a huge database that the
    recruiter will boast about in their large database, but have no clue as to who
    you are, what you can do and what you are looking for.


Recruitment agencies are not your only way of searching and getting the job you want. They are part of your job search strategy. The industry is like any other where some things work and some things
don’t. You choose which recruiter to engage, so know why you work with them to
assist you in your search, even if they Head-hunt you for the prospective job. It
is flattering when someone calls you and tells you you are the ideal candidate,
so enjoy the romance aspect in being contacted and then look at everything
objectively in terms of how it serves you. Empower yourself by interviewing the
recruiter as well, completing your own research as to:



· Where they are positioned. What kind of search and placements do they specialise in?


· Who is their client base? Do they represent employers that you want to join?


· What is the experience of the agent that will be helping you with your search? The brand of the
company which is the recruitment agency is not necessarily aligned to the
personal brand of the recruitment agent.


· Be certain that they do have a mandate from the client (the prospective employer) to search for
candidates on their behalf.


· Be certain that there is a real job behind the advert, rather than the recruitment agency looking for
“stock”.



I am not saying lose all trust and look for signed off documents to validate mandates! I am saying don’t be naive in your search. Apply some thought as to keeping yourself empowered in the process rather than
manipulated with no clue as to where your CV goes. As a “customer” you also
want your needs satisfied so you will upset a couple of recruitment agents that
don’t want to work with you and those requirements, but that does not mean you
will lose all chances of landing that job that you seek.



I recently read an article with the title, “R.I.P. Recruitment Search Agencies. Thanks for all your contributions but you will not be missed”. The article itself was not impressive in my opinion. What was interesting was the
reaction it got from recruiters. Could it be that some of the contents was true
then? We are all different, and we all operate differently as recruitment
agents. Some methodologies are sustainable, and some make the quick buck but do
not build sustainable relationships.



The reality is the human element has reduced a
lot in Human Resource Management. The job search process has become more
complicated and a bigger mystery than before. Some people’s experiences when
searching for jobs have been dreadful, discouraging anyone from considering
pursuing other opportunities. I can only encourage you to work on your bounce
back ability when you encounter the not so good recruitment agencies. Focus on
what you want and choose carefully who you associate yourself with. That word
Network is not as complicated and sales like as people make sound. You will
kiss a few frogs before finding your prince (I do not know a similar fairytale
for men to use as an analogy). Your job search just like anything else you wish
to deliver successfully needs to be planned, have a clear goal and a well
thought out “how” to get you what you want.

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