Recruitment agencies and consultants are an effective means of finding employment and for many graduates provide a first step into the job market. Some organisations provide access to temporary employment whereas others focus on permanent opportunities. If you are very focused in terms of your career choice it is useful to approach recruitment consultancies that specialise in that sector. Examples include Joslin Rowe (finance) and Pareto Law (sales). There are some agencies, such as Fresh Minds, that work specifically with high achieving undergraduates. The downside of working with recruitment agencies is that the quality of the service provided is not always consistent and there is no guarantee that you will always be put forward for the right type of opportunity; it is important to remember that these companies are working to targets in a competitive environment.
How do recruitment agencies work?
If you are working with an Employment Business (Temping Agency) it is normally the case that you are employed by the agency rather than the company and it is they who pay your wages. However, if you are seeking permanent employment via an Employment Agency it is the hiring company to whom you will be employed rather than the agency. Irrespective of the type of agency that you are using you will not be charged for the service as it is the client employer who is paying for the recruitment service. It is important to be careful when using recruitment agencies and having a good understanding of what they offer and how they work. For further information in respect of your rights when using an agency refer to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (refer to article 'Job Seeker -Conduct Regulations') and the Department for Business and Regulatory Reform (useful FAQ section).
Choosing a recruitment agency
It is extremely important that you research agencies before registering with them. The more thorough your research, the more likely you are to find the right opportunity. The Recruitment and Employment Confederation website is an excellent resource to identify member agencies according to region and industry sector. Additionally you could look for local agencies in the yellow pages. Sector specific agencies are referred to in the career articles populating the Prospects website and can also be identified via the professional organisations that represent job sectors. A further suggestion is to approach companies directly to establish if they recruit via an agency and if so which one. Durham University, for example, uses NRG in respect of clerical vacancies. Be realistic in terms of your expectations: an agency dealing primarily with experienced professionals may not be as effective, from a graduate's perspective, as one that is actively involved in the graduate recruitment market or has experience in placing people with limited experience. A recruitment agency is not necessarily a path to a graduate job, although it can be, but it will certainly offer a direct path to employment, at one level or another, in a sector that is of interest to you.
Use agency websites to investigate the sectors into which they recruit and which employers they work for. If you have specific queries it always best to contact the agency via telephone or email. For permanent vacancies, register with a number of agencies to maximise your chances: many jobs are placed exclusively with one agency. For temporary or part-time work it may be more appropriate to choose only one or two agencies, so that you are not swamped with interview offers. When registering with an agency be sure to effectively highlight your relevant skills, experience and qualifications; it is important to be clear about what it is that you want in terms of job opportunities. This will help both parties (you and the agency) to be clear about what is wanted and what can be offered!
The recruitment agencies on the right-hand side of this page, that we have provided links to, are not endorsed by the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre at Durham University but serve as examples of the breadth of companies operating in this field. Additionally, you will also find links to online resources (AgencyCentral, Job Agencies Directory and HireScores) that will help you to identify recruitment agencies nationally and internationally.
- Recruitment Agencies: How to use agencies effectively (last modified: 24 September 2012)