Ever considered using a recruitment agency? Vicky Kennedy says you should, but warns that graduate blind dates have their perils.
Finding the right job is like finding the right partner. On the first date you make an effort, you put on your best clothes, you’re excited if you learn you fulfil each other’s needs and then, let’s be honest, if all goes well, you’re just damn grateful that someone finally wants you. But what if you introduce a middle person into the equation? Someone who can teach you how to behave, give you feedback on where you went wrong and set you up with the ideal match. Sounds appealing? It does to around 19% of graduates who flock to recruitment consultancies each year, looking for help in finding the perfect job partner.
“We put candidates and clients together, so one way you could look at it is that we’re a bit like a dating agency,” says Simon Heaton, director of The Graduate Recruitment Company.
But, like dating agencies, there are many recruitment consultancies to choose from. After spending years and substantial amounts of money on your education, you don’t want to end up working somewhere you will not be satisfied. Graduates have to put a great deal of trust in recruitment consultancies, so it’s important to choose carefully.
There are key advantages to getting a recruitment agency to help you in your job search. Firstly, there are hundreds of good jobs out there that never get advertised. Recruitment agencies often have these vacancies on their books and might be able to put you in touch with the right one.
The relationship you build with a consultant is vital. Sonia Hedges, manager at Reed Graduates explains: “Employment agencies are an effective way to get ahead in job hunting because a professional recruitment consultant with contacts in the job market can ensure your CV lands on the right desk.”
But many a graduate has fallen at the first hurdle in the consultancy challenge. For example, if they don’t ring you, should you play hard to get? Are you ready to commit to them? Do they know how to satisfy you? How can you judge their performance? It’s a recruitment agency minefield out there.
Real World has designed a checklist to help you sort out the men from the boys.
Dress to impress
It is in the recruitment consultants’ interest to find good job candidates. Why? Many agencies charge employers a one-off fee of around 15 to 20 per cent of a new recruit’s annual salary. So if you rock up in your best pair of Levi’s, chances are you won’t hear from them again. Treat the consultant’s interview as a job interview. Dress smartly, rehearse questions they may ask and look interested in what they have to say.
First impressions count.
Find an agency with relevant clients
Different agencies specialise in different fields. Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters says nothing works better than word of mouth. “If someone has had a good deal from an agency, then use them too.” When you talk to agencies, ask how many clients they have in their sector, even how many people they find jobs for per month. The Recruitment Employment Confederation (REC) website has a search facility to help you locate suitable, regulated agencies in your area. Go to: www.rec.uk.com
Get ready to get started
Simon Heaton, of The Graduate Recruitment Company, warns that the job process may move faster than you expect. “We might have one or two people come to see us on a Monday,” he says, “they’ll go and see three or four jobs on a Tuesday and have accepted an offer on the Wednesday. It can work that quickly.” So make sure you’re not disappearing to Thailand for a month in a week’s time.
Get on with them
The more time you spend talking with a consultant, the more chance they have to find you a suitable vacancy. Annabel Lindsay, head of the Graduate and College Leavers’ Division at Angela Mortimer plc, recommends building up a rapport with the consultant. “It’s as important as the relationship which you would have with an outside client. I think people overlook this. It needs to be two-way. So when they ring you, ring them back.”
Don’t be afraid to temp
Temping jobs can lead to permanent placements. Temping in a field you like could open doors and it’s a good way to prove your enthusiasm for the job. Nicole Debson, director of Appointments Bi-Language says, “We encourage graduates to get market experience by temping. It makes a huge difference to their salaries – as much as £2,000-£3,000 per annum – but they’ve got to have secretarial skills.”
Don’t pay anything
Signing up for a recruitment agency should be free. Watch out for agencies that try to charge you indirectly through their skills training and CV services. Annabel Lindsay says, “There is no way anyone coming to a recruitment consultancy should part with a penny. It is the agency’s role to offer role-plays and lessons on how best to present yourself. It is in our interest that the person comes across well at interview.”
Expect to be treated professionally
Don’t waste your time on agencies that don’t ring back. If you’re doing all the ringing and they still haven’t found you a job interview months later, then cut them loose. Time could be better spent concentrating on other agencies and focusing on alternative job-seeking methods. Mr Gilleard says, “Judge them on whether they deliver the goods. If you don’t hear from them, it’s your career they’re dealing with, so take charge.”
With online recruitment sites it’s possible for you to have vacancies that match your criteria e-mailed or text-messaged to you. Many sites also offer employment news bulletins, psychometric tests and advice. But always make sure that you are cautious about what happens to your information and personal details. Ensure that they are reputable by finding out if they are members of the Association of Online Recruiters (AOLR). [rw]
Source: Vicky Kennedy Realworld magazine