Recruitment Agencies – Are they any good?

by | 11.11.21

People have all sorts of views about Recruitment Agencies, some are very positive, but others are very negative. It depends on the individual’s personal experience. The fact is though if you are struggling to find the right job using an agency may help you, unless you try you will never know. Here are some facts:

Agencies are there to help you

Agencies essentially exist to help companies fill their vacancies and to help you find a job. Some employers don’t have the time to sort through hundreds of CVs to select candidates for interview. This is where Agencies come in, when an employer contacts them with a new job, they will choose the best candidates on their books to put forward for interview. Agencies save employers’ time by putting forward top quality, suitable candidates for roles. At the same time a good Agency will optimise your CV and coach you before your interview thereby helping you get a job offer.

Agencies don’t take a cut of your salary

Contrary to popular perception Agencies don’t take a cut of your salary. So how do Agencies make money then? If an Agency places you into a permanent job they will charge the employer a fee. This is typically a percentage of your starting annual salary. Importantly though this money doesn’t come out of your salary, it’s paid by the employer to the Agency as a type of ‘finder’s fee’. If you do temp work the Agency will pay you and they charge employers an hourly rate for this service. This rate will include your pay, employers NI, your holiday pay, working time directive, SMP, SPP and SSP as well as a commission for the Agency. It’s not a king’s ransom that the Agency make but it is enough to cover their costs and make a small profit.

Agencies have jobs you won’t find elsewhere

Many employers choose to use Agencies as their only method of sourcing new employers. This is because they would rather pay an Agency to do the hard part of advertising their job, sifting through hundreds of CVs and putting together a shortlist of candidates for them as opposed to doing it themselves. Therefore it is very likely that you will hear about vacancies from Agencies that you haven’t seen advertised anywhere despite watching every jobsite like a hawk.

Agencies can provide you with expert professional advice

When you contact an Agency you’ll be allocated to a Consultant who should know about the local job market and the type of role you are looking for. Hopefully if you choose the right agency they’ll be able to provide you with loads of information including whether your experience and qualifications are up to scratch and whether the salary you are looking for is viable in the local area.

Agencies don’t get paid if they don’t place you in a job

Because Agencies only get paid if they place you into a job you can rest assured that they will do their very best to make sure that you will be offered all positions that are suitable for you. It’s essential they get candidates jobs otherwise they won’t earn any money. To achieve this a good agency will write or improve your CV, advise you on interview techniques. They are just as keen as you to  place you into a job and having that extra support is a great bonus in any job market.

Agencies can’t be relied upon to find you a job

Some employers prefer not to use Agencies so therefore all Agencies will have limited amount of vacancies available at any one time. So if you are using Agencies as your only job search you could be missing out on a job that would be perfect for you. What an Agency can’t and won’t do is to guarantee to find anyone a job that would be impossible.

Agencies always have a lot of talent on their books

The UK job market is more competitive than ever, so it is fair to say you will be up against candidates with some serious skills and experience. This does not mean they won’t place you in a job it just means you should spread your wings a bit and look at all options available. Never rely on an Agency to get you a job, hopefully they will but there is no guarantee.

Agencies are managed by human beings and not robots

Recruitment Consultants are human, they have feelings they have likes and dislike just like you. They are not paid the fortune you believe they are. What they are not paid is enough money to put up with rude demanding or aggressive people. Remember when you are using an Agency you are not paying for the service they provide so it is important that you treat the Agency with the respect they deserve. We have a zero tolerance rate in our office, if you are rude to us we are not going to help you now or at any time in the future.

Agencies need to be researched

High streets are full of Agencies and as with any business some Agencies are better than others. It’s definitely worth talking to friends and colleagues to see what their experience has been with local Agencies. It’s also a good idea to look at an Agencies website to see what type of jobs they are advertising. Look at the Agencies google reviews are they 4 stars plus? If not forget them.

Agencies will vet you – be prepared

Agencies should get to know you in order to find a suitable position. At the very least you should expect an informal Microsoft Teams or Zoom meeting with the Agency to discuss your education , work experience and job expectations. Any good Agency will ask you to do skill assessment exercises and provide proof of your right to work in the UK. If an Agency asks you to submit your CV and you get a generic reply saying they will contact you if there is a suitable job forget them. These kind of Agencies see candidates as numbers rather than real talent and are not worth your time.

Agencies specialise

Some Agencies specialise in certain areas whilst others might cover a bit of everything. For example one Agency might be the best shout if you are looking for a job in accounting, where another might be good for commercial office jobs. Your best bet is to do a bit of research before you decide who to approach. If you want a niche role make sure the Agency you approach deals with what you are looking for otherwise you will be wasting your time.

Agencies can help you once you have a job offer

Once an Agency has secured you a job their role does not stop there. They will handle all of the paperwork and other formalities and liaise with your new job employer to make sure everything is in place for your first day and beyond. They can even negotiate your salary for you and make sure you get the best package out there. Essentially it’s in the Agencies best interest to make sure they find a role that is right for you and make it as easy possible for you to apply and get started.

So there you go, job hunting can be a lonely process but it can be less if you use an Agency. They can be a real support to you by providing advice, guidance and professional help. But remember the people who work in Agencies are humans just like you. You want to be treated well and so do they. Make working with an Agency a partnership, then it will work well.

Good Luck

Angela Burton