Working With Recruitment Agencies - Part 1

Understanding Recruitment Agencies

Recruitment agencies often seem to get a bad rap. Sometimes the negative feedback is warranted, but mostly the comments I see reflect a limited understanding of the role a recruitment agency plays in the job seeking world.

Job seekers are quick to complain that they don’t hear back. That they should be entitled to feedback. That recruitment agencies are rude when they do not respond. That the agency got it wrong. That they have spent hours putting together an application and are therefore entitled to feedback. Here is our take on the situation and some much-needed feedback from the agencies themselves.

Working with recruitment agencies is a two-way street. I believe that having an interview with a potential employer is a meeting, a mutual conversation, a starting point where you can analyse your suitability to each other. Although we acknowledge things don’t always pan out this way and some interviews are handled badly and feel more like an interrogation, most good agencies are finding unique ways to meet and assess clients to get to the bottom of who they are.

Bad Recruitment Agencies

With the greatest respect to reputable recruitment agencies, be forewarned that for every good agency, there is one which does not act in the best interests of the candidates. Underhanded tactics are used to achieve the best result for them. Yes, that's right! I meet many disheartened clients who are very upset at the constant rejection, the broken promises and the job that always seems to be filled when they make an enquiry.

In the recruitment world, the role of the recruiter is to find the most suitable candidate as quickly as possible. Building a database of candidates, ready to go is one way to achieve this. Often jobs are advertised, when they don’t exist. The candidate makes the call, but the job has been filled, but not to worry, you will be placed on the database for the next available position! Meanwhile, your hopes are up and you feel very down and out when you get the rejection second time and third time around. Be wary of advertisements which are vague, have no specific location or details which indicate the authenticity of the position.

Good Recruitment Agencies

There are good agencies too!! There are agencies who will work hard to match job seekers to available positions, but be honest with yourself and realise that not EVERY recruitment agency will have a job for every candidate. Be proactive and use other job search methods and realise that using a recruitment agency in your job search will not always be the answer to your prayers.

You will know when you are dealing with a reputable recruitment agencies. They will have systems and processes in place. They won’t make promises they can’t keep. They might even tell you straight up that they cannot help you (because they don’t currently have jobs that match your skill set and experience). Be aware that a recruitment agency does not work for you.

A recruitment agency is not your personal careers advisor, your resume writer, your interview coach or your counsellor. Sure they are there to try and fit you with the right position, but ultimately their client is the employer. Their role is to cull the candidate list, shortlist and work with that shortlist to fill the position. Their time is valuable and limited. To spend 15 minutes giving feedback to every candidate is a huge undertaking and often takes away from the time spent with the client (the employer) and the qualified candidates.

Also be aware that there are two types of agencies – Government and private. They fill very different roles and must abide by different processes when conducting the recruitment process.

Read Part Two of this article

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