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Making Your Recruitment Agency Work for You

This week we’re focusing on what it’s like to be a recruitment agency candidate.

Agencies sometimes have a reputation for only looking for “…round pegs to fit round holes…” as one frustrated Guardian reader wrote.

But are all recruitment agencies cut from the same cloth? Could signing with an agency be the right fit for you? And, if so, how do you make it work?

Read on for some top tips from our Angel candidates and consultants.

1. Why should I job hunt with an agency?

Has anyone ever told you job hunting is a full-time job? Blanket bombing companies with the same CV and cover letter is one – albeit ill-advised – approach; but if you’ve got a real aim in mind carefully crafting well researched applications to each considered company is, well, a full-time job!

Plus most jobs just don’t get advertised. According to experts only 30% of jobs make it jobs boards! The rest presumably being taken up via skilled networking and those in the know – which is where recruitment agencies come in. Basically, working with an agency can help you cut to the chase without cutting corners.

2. How do I choose the right agency for me?

There are many types of recruitment agency out there. Some specialise in particular sectors, others are more generalist. The key to making sure the agencies you approach are right for you is twofold: First, know what you’re aiming for.

Second, find agencies with experience in that sector or area. A good way to get a feel for an agency is to look at the ads on their site and the lists of clients they deal with before making an application to sign up.

3. So, what makes a good agency?

It goes without saying that your agency should walk their talk. But once you’ve made sure they have a real understanding of your industry and the market, you should consider how they conduct themselves. For one thing, do they come recommended? Take a look at testimonials and Linkedin to check out their feedback.

Then, we come to the crux of the good recruitment agency conundrum. Are you merely a number in their KPI targets? A good agency will be busy, but they also know it’s vital to build relationships with their candidates throughout the process and even beyond – at Angel we check in with our candidates after they’re placed, for example.

4. What should I do now?

Make sure your CV is up-to-date. Whether you’re going solo, signing up with online job sites or using an agency – or all three! – this is a must! See here for some CV tips
But something an agency can really do, is help you get under the skin of what potential employers are looking for.

I thought my post-graduate diploma in law was an asset, for example, but my consultant advised me tone down this side of my CV and present myself in a way relevant to the role I was aiming for – which worked! Alternatively you might find your ideal sector is in need of social media or language skills, so you might need to highlight these skills or cultivate them by taking a course. Ooh, we have a piece on that right here!

5. I’ve signed up with an agency, but I’ve not heard a bean?

Often job seekers seem to think an agent or consultant is there to find them a job. But, actually it’s the other way around: Agents don’t find jobs for people they find candidates to fit client needs.
It may sound harsh but recruitment is essentially about sales.

A representative agent sells his or her services to an organisation or client and then ‘sells’ those roles to appropriate candidates. So, as a candidate, you’ve got to make an impression.

6. What can I do to make myself stand out?

Build a relationship with your consultant. I’d give your agent a call, ask about vacancies you think are right for you. Show some enthusiasm, but keep it short and sweet – you don’t want to stalk them!

A quick check-in should keep you at the forefront of your agent’s mind. Plus, by showing your enthusiasm and proactive nature your agent can personally vouch for you – best positioning you when it comes to making an impression on those recruiters you’re aiming for. And, don’t forget to check in with your consultant while on any temporary or contract placements – you want to remain the cream of their candidate talent pool!

7. What else can working with an agent do for me?

An advantage I found of working with a consultant was getting feedback from a real life person! Having applied for numerous jobs online, invariably without a response, I’d found job hunting lonely and demoralising, at times.

So, getting support and expert advice from my consultant really helped to focus my efforts and sustain my enthusiasm.

8. I’ve got a call back, what now?

Speed, is of the essence. Remember you’re not the only candidate in your consultant’s pool! I appreciate my candidates responding promptly to emails or calls about potential roles.

Getting back to me quickly with any information, I need, means I see that candidate as more professional and committed; making it more likely I’ll consider them for future roles, if this one turns out not to be for them.

Also: Candidates should keep an open mind when it come to roles they’re offered. This might not be the perfect job but it might be the perfect next step…

9. How should I make the most of interim roles?

Most of us need to make side steps or take temp roles to get to our ideal role. We might need more experience in a given sector. Or, it could be simply be practicality. Either way candidates need to make the most of every placement. Learn as much as you can, get as much training as possible and establish new relationships.

And, remember to let your consultant know you’re still keen to know about relevant roles.

10. But what if I’m a special candidate case?

All the talk of recruitment targets and being proactive can give rise to the impression that candidates have to be exceptional. But that’s not the case. At Angel, we not only believe there’s a role for everyone, but provide support for people finding it hard to access roles, like mums returning to work, for example.

We also support career progression with key training – sometimes on the job – for Care sector and HORECA candidates. The right agency can support you wherever you are in your career.


As usual, we’d love to hear from you!
Share your questions and insights using the hashtag #Q&Angel
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