Using recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies can be a useful channel for securing your dream job, placement or summer employment. If you are wondering where to start, here’s our guide to using recruitment agencies.

What is a recruitment agency?

Recruitment agencies – you might also see them referred to as employment agencies or recruitment consultants – match candidates to jobs. They charge companies for their services which means that, as a candidate, you don’t have to pay for their services.

Agencies can be found on high streets and the internet.  Some specialise by sector and others by type or level of work (including casual, graduate and executive selection). Some specialise in temporary opportunities only.

How do recruitment agencies work?

Some agencies operate an online jobs board with vacancy information and the opportunity to post your CV in order to market yourself to employers. Others have job listings with application or short-listing processes handled by the agency.

Why do employers use recruitment agencies?

  • Companies without an HR department or organisations who recruit lots of staff often use agencies as an efficient way to manage their recruitment
  • Some companies wish to advertise jobs anonymously
  • Sometimes companies require immediate starters for a position and agencies often have a pool of candidates which they can put forward

Top tips for using recruitment agencies

  • Do your research and find an agency that fits with the sector you’re interested in. Agency Central has a directory where you can search by industry and location.
  • Use your social network to find out about the reputation of an agency for getting jobs. If the agency is a member of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) this can be a useful quality indicator.
  • Treat an agency interview like a job interview - be professional and be clear about the type of job you want and the experience, skills and qualifications you have.
  • Never pay to register with an agency. It is illegal for UK agencies to charge you for work-finding services. If an agency asks for payment for anything - don’t use them.
  • Develop a relationship with the agencies you register with. Try to keep in touch with the same consultant and don’t rely on the agency to call you about vacancies.
  • Register with more than one agency but never more than you can keep in contact with regularly.
  • Respond quickly to emails and calls from recruitment agencies.They work on very tight deadlines and missing a call may mean missing out on an opportunity.