As a jobseeker you have many options to help you find a job, local advertising, job boards and social media to name a few, but your most important  job seeking tool will always be the recruitment agency.

Recruitment agencies work by recruiting candidates on behalf of their clients and have access to positions and companies that the average job seeker does not. Recruitment consultants will advertise on behalf of their clients, but they will also check their files and databases for any candidates that might be suitable for the job but who may not have applied directly for it. It is for this reason that making sure you are registered with at least one recruitment agency is vital to the active jobseeker.

There are many advantages to using recruitment agencies:

  1. It is a free service to jobseekers.
  2. As mentioned, a recruitment agency has knowledge of jobs that you may not be aware of.
  3. A good recruitment agency will advise you on how to best structure your CV for the job you wish to apply for and they will prepare you for any subsequent interviews or meetings.
  4. Recruitment consultants know the market they operate in – and they know the companies they deal with and so can offer invaluable advice on how to succeed with a job application.
  5. If you apply for a job and your application is unsuccessful you often don’t know the reasons why you didn’t get the job. With a recruitment agency, you will be able to get better feedback on why you were unsuccessful, so that when you next apply for a job, you know what areas you need to work on.

Choosing the right recruitment agency for you should be done with caution – you need to ensure that you are being represented in the best possible manner. The best approach to job seeking using a recruitment agency is to first determine what kind of work you are looking for, the locations in which you are willing to work and the type of company you want to deal with. The next step is to do some research – ask people who they recommend, check the Golden Pages or go online to get a list of agencies in your area or the area you wish to work in.

Next, check out the websites of your list of recruitment agencies. Focus on identifying the agencies that specialise in your area of interest. You will find a wide variety of agencies, all specialising in different areas and with different companies so by doing your research you will be able to draw up a shortlist of agencies that suit your needs. For example, if you are a manufacturing engineer, you need to seek out agencies that have a number of jobs listed in this area and have it listed as one of their specialities, otherwise you may end up sending your CV to a company who does not even recruit for this sector, which will be a waste of your time and effort.

Other considerations when choosing the right recruitment agency is their presence – you do not necessarily need to only deal with the bigger agencies, but you do need to ensure that if you are willing to relocate that they have a national or international presence. Even if you don’t want to relocate, not all companies give their business to the larger agencies, so be aware of how well regarded the recruitment agency is – ask around or do online checks to see if anyone has posted any comments on the company. Also, if you feel you may need more help preparing your CV or you need some advice on job seeking, look at the websites, you will be able to see the kind of services each agency offers; only settle for the agencies that you think can offer you the best service for your particular needs.

Finally, submit your CV and follow up with a phone call. If you are still not sure about submitting your CV, ring the agency and talk to a consultant about your needs – they will be able to tell you if they think they can help or not.

When talking to a recruitment agency make sure to check:

  1. That the agency actually recruits for the area you wish to work in.
  2. That the agency will not submit your CV to any company without first checking with you – this is very important as if an agency submits your CV without your consent for a particular position, and you or a second agency submits your CV for the same position, it could reflect badly on both you and the agency you have given your consent to.
  3. The name and contact details of the consultant who recruits in your sector – introduce yourself and take the opportunity to express your value to any potential employers.
  4. If you are unsure of your CV ask for advice – a good recruitment consultant will be happy to tell you if there are any changes that need to be made.

Your CV is your first introduction to a potential new employer and nobody knows the importance of this more than a recruitment consultant. Each CV should be tailored for the job you applying for – before submitting your CV a consultant will suggest any changes that should be made in order to best highlight your relevant experience. No consultant should ever make these changes on your behalf without first consulting you – and always make sure that if you do not make these changes yourself that you get a copy of the CV – never risk going into an interview without knowing exactly what is on your CV.

Keep a note of all the positions you have applied for and when you applied for them – this is also to ensure that your CV is not submitted twice but also so that you can follow up on any applications with the recruitment consultant who has been dealing with you.

If you are selected for an interview, ask your consultant for a face-to-face meeting first to ensure you are fully prepared. Remember – they will have done this many times and they will have an in-depth knowledge of the company and the job, they know what the client is looking for so any advice they give will be invaluable.

Often people find they get frustrated with Recruitment agencies because they have had no contact in some time – bear in mind that in most cases that this is because the consultant has no suitable positions at the time. But also remember that you are among thousands of people looking for a job and often they will have innumerable CVs to deal with or they may think that because you haven’t been in contact you may no longer be seeking a job. So make yourself stand out – call your consultant to let them know you are still looking, keep an eye on their website for any jobs you think suit you and let them know if they haven’t rang you when something suitable does come up. By making yourself known and ensuring that your consultant is fully aware of what you have to offer, the more likely it is that your name will come to their mind when a job comes in.

Working with recruitment agencies can be highly beneficial – just make sure you choose the right ones for you. If for any reason you are ever unhappy with the service you have received, inform the agency of your displeasure and ask to be removed from their database, you should only deal with companies that you have full confidence in.


Niall Murray

Managing Director

Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services