recruitment agencies

What exactly is a recruitment agency?

Recruitment agencies are essentially the middle guys (and girls!) who sit between you (the candidate) and their clients (the employers). Their business objective is to find candidates to match the vacancies of their clients and they generate their revenue through successful matches. To be able to do this they employ recruitment consultants (resourcers) who find, interview and assess candidates for a particular position / vacancy. These consultants will then liaise with the employer and forward on the candidates they feel match the vacancy.

How do recruitment agencies work?

When an employer needs to hire a new employee, they will usually provide a recruitment agency (or several) with a job description. This job description is then allocated to a department and team who search their CV database to find available candidates who match the description. If there are none that match, then they will then look further afield and at other sources.Once they have found a selection of candidates (a shortlist) they will then begin conducting interviews to determine the best fit and referring those CV’s on to the employer.

What are the benefits of signing up to an agency?

There are many different agencies out there, some are very good and others, well, not so great! A good agency will absolutely be worth their salt because they can offer you:

  • In-depth knowledge about your industry and free advice.

When you are new to a country and depending on your career sector, it can be very helpful to get an insight into the current market conditions and trends. As experts in their field they will be able to provide you with realistic salary levels for your chosen role. They’ll give you advice as to which roles are suited to your skillset. They’ll also help with your CV and modify terminology to ensure your language is consistent with the UK market.

  • They will have access to jobs that aren’t always advertised.

Recruiters also spend a lot of their time networking with their clients to find out about upcoming jobs. This often means that some roles do not make it to the mainstream job boards as candidates will be sourced directly from the recruiter’s database. Therefore, registering with an agency means that you are one of those potential candidates.

  • They will save you time

Have you ever been to an interview only to realise that the role was not suitable for you? No one wants to waste time applying for roles that aren’t really what they’re after. The advantage of registering with a recruitment agency is that you will meet with a consultant who knows enough about your skills and experience to only put you forward for suitable roles.

  • They ‘should’ be able to get the best salary offer for you

So, you’ve interviewed for a job you really want, you made it through a tough selection process and now they have offered you the role. Amazing! Except the salary offer has fallen short of what you were expecting and believe you are worth. Asking for more money can be a daunting prospect and one that very few of us have the confidence to handle well. Step forward your recruitment consultant who can manage the negotiation process on your behalf and potentially get you the salary you want, without damaging the relationship you have with your future employer.

  • They can give you constructive feedback to help you hone your skills for future interviews.

Hearing that you have been unsuccessful for a position is often disheartening, you think back to the interview and try to pinpoint where it went wrong. Sadly it’s very rare to hear from employers about why you were not successful. How can you improve if you don’t know where you went wrong? Recruitment consultants usually have a close working relationship with their clients. This means that they are in a position to get you the much-needed constructive feedback about why you were not successful. Such feedback is incredibly valuable, because you can be more aware of your weaker areas and work on improving them. This can then help you increase your confidence, ready for that next, and hopefully last, interview.

Do I have to pay a recruitment agency?

No, they make their money from the end employer.If an agency asks you for money, find another one! Recruitment agencies here are paid by the employers, once they have found them a suitable candidate(s).

How do recruitment agencies make their money?

There are a lot of misperceptions about placement agencies charging you for their service. Using a recruitment agency won’t cost you anything as the fees are paid by the employer. Recruitment agencies have different fee structures depending on the type of contract (permanent / temporary) but they will usually charge their client a percentage of your salary. This does not affect your earnings and in theory the more your consultant can negotiate for you, the more they make. So, it’s in their interests to get you the best salary. Now, I did say ‘in theory’, as this is not always the case, so you must still carry out your own research to ‘know your potential worth’.

If you are being paid an hourly rate as opposed to an annual salary then usually the employer pays your agency, who passes on an agreed rate to you, the employee. You will most likely never know what rate the employer is paying and the margin that the agency is making. So again, you must know know your potential worth’before you sign on the dotted line!

Why do companies use recruitment agencies?

Many companies use recruitment agencies because they do not have the resources (time or money), to sit and read through the scores of CVs they receive for roles. Whilst the agency will charge a fee for sourcing a successful candidate, it is often far less compared to the advertising costs and the time taken to review hundreds of applications. Only large firms tend to have their own HR departments because they have on-going candidate requirements. So most firms who don’t have a year round candidate need will tend to use an agency when a role comes up.

Should I use a recruitment agency?

Recruitment agencies can be beneficial in terms of helping you ‘get a foot in the door’ in your chosen industry in the UK. Their reach is significant and they can match you with roles similar to ones that you have already applied for or have worked in back home. This cuts down the time you need to spend searching for suitable roles, giving you more time to actually apply for roles you are interested in!

As well as helping match you to job opportunities, employment agencies are specialists in their field. Their contacts and proven knowledge of the industry means they are in a great position to help you land an interview for the perfect role.

Lodging your CV with a recruitment company via an online portal or recruitment specialist will enable your skills and experience to be seen by the companies that matter. Tips and advice to improve your CV and cover writing skills are also part of the service, along with interview techniques. If you’re put forward for a job but don’t get it, the agency will usually provide constructive feedback.

However, it’s worth keeping in mind that these agencies work for the employer — not for you. The roles that may be recommended to you may not be best suited to your skills and experience. Recruitment agencies are required to recommend a given number of candidates for each role, so beware that you could potentially be mismatched against the job criteria. Niche industries can have a quite unique skill set — and that’s not something that recruiters necessarily understand. Always trust your gut, be persistent and don’t be afraid to keep asking questions.

In the interests of not putting your eggs in one basket, also conduct your own job research via LinkedIn and sign up to receive alerts on job boards and other related websites. Agencies can certainly help, but you do not have to solely rely upon them.

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