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“What To Remember When Dealing With Recruitment Agencies”

I recently received an email from an IT contractor friend of mine Alex, asking for advice on the tricks of the trade when dealing with recruitment agencies.

Alex told me he finds it annoying that he never gets an answer regarding whether he has been successful on jobs consultants put him forward to, and why they are always his best friend when they call him, but he gets a completely opposite approach when he calls them. He wanted to know the best way to get agencies to regularly update him and call him. This was my reply.

Dear Alex,

Thanks for the email. There is no sure way of dealing with a particular agency as there are varying levels of service in every type of industry, good and bad. Maybe you are just having bad luck? I understand your problem, below is my best shot at helping your predicament.

A recruitment agency is a sales organisation. It is there to make a profit. As such their consultants are given normally high sales targets because of this consultants naturally have to concentrate their efforts on candidates they can sell into companies or are of appeal to the clients that they deal with or actively recruiting for.

A recruitment agency generally makes its money in one of three ways

Contract placements / Temps – The agency pays you six pounds per hour and charges the company nine. For every hour worked they make three pounds profit.

Permanent Placements– The agency charges a fixed fee based on the annual salary. For example, you are paid £25,000 salary, the agency charges a 15% fee with a profit of £3250.

Account Managing-The agency looks after one company’s recruitment for which they will either charge a fixed fee or a pro rata rate based on the amount of people they place within that business over, for example, a year.

In answer to your question there is no sure way of securing success. Of the things you can do, the first and most important thing is to beat them at there own game. You need to market and present yourself in the best possible way. Or basically, get your CV sorted. It is the first impression that they get of you and as such is the most important.

1) Make sure your CV stands out, presentation and grammar are key. If a CV looks bad you look bad.

2) Spelling same thing, in the age of spell check there is no excuse.

3) Key words. A lot of agencies use keyword database searches when looking for potential candidates. This is especially used for specific qualifications or levels of experience.

The second thing is to be friendly with your consultant. If you are polite you will be amazed by how much consultants will try and help. They deal with a lot of rude people who expect them to have work available (whether they are qualified for it or not) and get annoyed if there isn’t. Treating a consultant with the kind of consideration you’d extend to any human being works wonders. They will remember your behaviour later when they are deciding whom to offer a plum job to. Treat them badly, and they will assume you possess the calibre of manners that are fit for only street cleaning.

Finally and the most important aspect of dealing with agencies is covering your bases. Recruitment consultants will soon forget about you unless you are of commercial value. Keep your options open. Don’t rely on the fact that one agency will find you work. Register with at least five nationals and two specific to the area you wish to work. That way you will ensure you have local and national expertise working on your behalf. Don’t let them know that you are registered with additional agencies, as they may put in less work in for you.

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