Using a recruitment agency

Understanding how recruitment agencies work can help you get the most out of the services they offer.

If you are thinking of dusting off your CV, here's how to get the best out of your recruitment agency.

Recruitment agencies are a demand led business, not a supply driven one.  Our main business is to fill roles for our clients.  Finding jobs for our candidates is a (very rewarding) by-product.    

It's not that we don't want to help you move jobs - it is simply that you have not been the best fit for our client's job specification - so far.  Here is how we work...

When the phone rings with a new role that our client wants us to fill, first we must ensure we understand the background, brief and timeframe.  We then do our utmost to find suitable candidates - quickly.  One resource we use is our internal database of candidates.  If you want to be on our database we need the following information to be current and accurate:

  • Proof of right to work in the UK
  • An up to date, honest CV showing your relevant experience clearly and concisely
  • Two relevant referees
  • Realistic salary requirements
  • Restrictions to your availability e.g. notice period, booked leave (if you are temping), part time hours
  • Location
  • Correct and comprehensive contact details
  • Current career aspirations

"Novelty email addresses are best avoided"

We may also have met or spoken with you on the phone.  This is an important part of building a relationship with our candidates and enables us to get a fuller picture of your experience, career plan and presentation.  If we can advise with your CV we will.  If we can help with recommending potential sources of voluntary placements to kick start your career, just ask. 

We will use our industry knowledge, jobs boards, advertising and LinkedIn to reach the widest possible candidate pool for each role we work on.  If you are using a public platform such as LinkedIn you need to have a visible, professional and comprehensible profile.  Weird photos, obscure job titles and novelty email addresses are best avoided.

After extensive searching we present only the best fit candidates to our client.   We will have shortlisted them because they are the best matches against the job description and person spec.  Competition may be fierce.  You will not be shortlisted if you do not match the skills and experience required of the role. Be realistic.  There is no point in applying for vacancies for which you are not qualified.  You will also need to be available at the right time and able to travel to the location.

Interviews are arranged by us.  If you are shortlisted then we expect you to be professional, punctual and prepared. 

The shortlisted candidates may be called back for several interviews.  Sometimes the process can take weeks or months.  Communication is key here.  If we hear from the client we will contact you.  If your circumstances change you need to contact us.  Sometimes we all need to remain patient during this phase.

Hopefully an offer will be made to you.  We understand this will need to be considered carefully, whilst we’ll have talked to you throughout the process, at this stage we’ll play an active role challenging you on your motivations and to ensure it is the right career move for you.   Remain upfront and honest with us in this period of negotiation.  If you do accept we will shout "Hooray" and send you congratulations and a contract.

If you are unsuccessful then any client feedback may prove useful for next time.   We always appreciate your feedback on how we have performed. We value our candidates and are delighted when many go on to become our clients (and we know how to remain discreet when people are both at the same time). 

So, please don't say to your agency "Why haven't you found me a job?" or "I registered with you a year ago and I have never heard anything from you".  Instead, if your agency hasn't been in contact with you for a while, then review and update your CV and public profiles (on LinkedIn for example) and then pick up the phone.

Anne Williams is a Recruiter at Sue Hill Recruitment.  In November 2013, Sue Hill Recruitment and TFPL joined forces to work as collaborative teams in the information, research, knowledge, archives and records management sectors to provide an enhanced service to clients and candidates.  If you haven’t been in touch with your recruiter for a while, Anne would be delighted to hear from you.