5 Steps to Tapping Recruitment Agencies for Advice and Employment

5 Steps to Tapping Recruitment Agencies for Advice and EmploymentWhile it’s true that most recruitment agencies are chopped to breaking point with more applicants than they have jobs, there are still ways to ensure that among their top candidates is yourself that’s situated there.

Recruitment consultants work on a two-ended spectrum. One the one hand they have to work with clients, who are the local businesses in need of assistance, often on short notice, with no real guarantee of long-term prospects.

On the other hand, there’s suitable job applicants to meet the needs of businesses. While some people look at this as a negative experience, those who thrive in this working environment, actually aren’t with the agency for longer than they need to be, before a fee is paid to recruit suitable candidates directly with the employer.

It’s more of a work trial without the direct employment approach for some business owners. However, in the middle of serving the staffing needs of those clients is the services of the recruitment consultant.

They’re the people who need to make the match and for them to do that they need to know the talent they have available.

If you’re available for work and comfortable being put through your paces in work trials, or just temporary assignments to make ends meet, then the following will give you some guidance on getting both advice and paid work placement through a recruitment agent.

Getting your agent to work with you

1)     Pick the one (or more) agency that’s right for you

There’s agencies up and down nearly every major city centre, but not all are equal. Before you consider approaching any with your CV, you should check their history and registration with the REC.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation uphold best practices for members of the REC.

They represent the most ethical employment agencies around, but registration is not a legal requirement. It’s good business practice though and you can use the REC to find reputable agencies to work with, and if problems do arise, you have a complaint procedure with a professional body to go through. Otherwise, the only resource you have is the statutory body of the Employment Agencies Standard Inspectorate, (EAS) you have to turn to in the event of misconduct. That’s part of the Dept. for Business, Innovation, and Skills, referred to for short as the BIS.

Once you have a list of agencies, preferably REC registered, you’re best to align yourself beside as many as you can. A good consultancy will have an interview process for you to go through, despite not directly applying for work.

You’re essentially applying to be included in their talent pool of potential candidates for upcoming jobs. The interviews alone can give you good practice for when the real interview comes around.

2)     Getting the most out your interviews with a recruitment consultant

The one thing you must do with these interviews is to treat them as a two way street. The choice is yours which agent you want to work with. Ask questions to get a feel for the agents professionalism and expertise.

  • How long do your candidates tend to wait for a position to open with your agency?
  • Do get much (type of work you’re looking for) coming your way?
  • Do you specialise in (field of expertise) recruitment?
  • Are most of your placements temporary, permanent, or temp to perm?
  • How do you pay your staff holiday pay? Set rates, accrued, and if they are accrued and not taken, will it be paid at the end of the placement, or carried over for future assignments? 

The whole process is for you to learn about each agency you apply for work with, and converse openly with the recruitment consultant. Let them know what you’re looking for, and ask what they’re looking for in return. Learn about each other at the interview.

3)     Establish the rapport as soon as possible

When you’re working through a recruitment agency, the person you deal with as your recruitment consultant, basically becomes your bridge between jobs.

They’re pretty much the gatekeeper who will ultimately decide whether to place you into a vacancy they feel appropriate, or even give you a try at something you’re not familiar with if they feel you have the suitable skills, and experience for a particular placement. Not all assignments you’re offered are directly what you apply for. It’s a good way to enhance your skills and work experience.

Just be careful not to take assignments that can lower your CV standards for career-focused jobs. That can happen if you wind up working in a chicken factory just for a wage, instead of being out doing career related work, perhaps finance, sales, or secretarial work.

If that situation arises, put it down to experience and move over to the more professional recruitment consultant, or a consultancy, depending if you can work with someone else in the same agency, or if you’d prefer to go to a different company completely. It can take some trial and error before you find a good partner to work with. The right consultant makes all the difference in getting quality work placements.

4)     Be active in chasing up your agent

Recruitment agents are typically busy with administrative work and often only look through their database of candidates when they really need to.

Some might even work with a shortlist of applicants they prefer to work with, because they’ve already established a working relationship and the candidate has already proven themselves to be reliable and can be called upon at any time. You want to be among those and the way you get there is through consistency.

Call the agency at least once each week, or at least, make it regular enough to a point the agency is expecting your call. If they’re local, even drop by the office when you’re on the way past just to check in.

Let the consultant know what interviews you have lined up for the week ahead, and any other times you’re unavailable. The reasons aren’t important, unless you have interviews then be sure to let them know about those.

If you find a job you feel you’d be suitable for, but perhaps not qualified, then that’s the situation to bring to your agent. It’s an opportunity. If you’re not comfortable approaching a big name client for whatever reason, the consultancy will have a sales team who’d be glad to offer their services. (For a fee of course). If they do land the assignment, you could be forwarded for interview, with advice on the best approach.

It is rare but if it does happen, you can guarantee that particular consultancy is going to shortlist you, as you’ll be remembered for the person to introduce them to new opportunities. In return, they’ll do the same for you. It’s not necessary of course, but if the opportunity presents itself, take advantage of it.

Try to partner as much as possible with an agent you want to work with. Just by constant contact with agencies, you can increase your likelihood of landing work placements. It only takes one assignment to prove your worth, to lead to more ongoing work, with each one presenting an opportunity for longer-term work, often on a permanent basis.

5)     Schedule a consultation after each short-term assignment

This one is crucial to sustaining your opportunities from your recruitment consultant. Whenever you are placed into work on a short-term basis, you want to capitalise on that service as much as possible.

A three-month assignment is three-months worth of new work experience. That requires an update to your CV, and right after that contract is up is when you’re best to get that updated.

Speak with your agency and let them know each of the duties you carried out. Let them know if it’s that type of work you’re happy to do, or if the job didn’t quite come with what you expected.

Give your work experience to your agent and ask for advice for updating your CV. As in – the best way to word it, if it would help them find you more work if you were to revise your opening summary reflecting the new experience you just had, and anything else you can think of that may need revising on your existing CV.

As much as you can do to show a recruitment consultant that you’re committed to doing a top-notch job on every assignment will assure them that you’re reliable, and trustworthy enough to be counted on to reflect a professional image for their services to clients.

You can find it much easier when you’re on the job search phase alongside a professional recruitment consultant, seeking out opportunities for you too. It becomes a joint effort when you establish the relationship with the right people in a position to offer their assistance to jump-start your career, or make the break back into the working scene.