This is a surprisingly common question, considering how labour intensive job searching is.
Let’s put this into perspective. Recruitment agencies have customers (employers) who are the companies who need to fill a particular job, and they have a pool of candidates who are looking for work (you).
The goal of the agency is to take the least amount of effort and time to provide the best fit for their customers (the companies). If you don’t have what they need or don’t communicate this clearly, they will not help you. It’s not their job to.
When utilising a recruitment agency, you need to think about them. What do they need to satisfy their customers? Too many people expect the agency to do all the work and are surprised to get no reply from them.
7 tips to using recruitment agencies
- Choose no more than 2 or 3 agencies to work with (quality instead of quantity)
- Research the agencies before choosing. Find the ones that seem to want what you have to offer. (www.seek.com.au and www.careerone.com.au are frequently used by recruitment agencies, so this is a great place to start to find the ones that match. Also talk to people in your target industry for the agencies preferred by their employers.)
- Be clear, about what you offer. Don’t expect them to figure out how you can be useful to their customers. Create a detailed portfolio of your skills and experience including what you’ve done, where you did it and what was the context. This is for your reference, your application and Resumé is a summarised version containing details relevant to your target employer.
- Research what the agency wants. You can do this by looking at their job advertisements and by asking them directly. Are there skills that are often required? Do you have these skills? If you don’t, research how you could acquire them. (keeping your skills up to date is your responsibility)
- Keep in touch regularly. Don’t wait for them to chase you. They might have 100 people or more to deal with. Be the person who wants to be useful to them. Update your skills and let them know. Check if there is anything else they are looking for at the moment just in case you left this off your Resumé.
- Don’t be scared of temporary work. These days there are more short term contract jobs than ever before. If you only focus on permanent positions you will miss out on the opportunity to gain a variety of local experience AND expand your local network. (the more people you see your work, the more opportunities you will have.)
- Be professional. Just because they are not the direct employer doesn’t mean you behave any differently. Treat every communication with the recruitment agency just as you would with an employer. Recruitment agents are incredibly busy people. Be considerate of their time.
Finally, only 30-40% of jobs are advertised, which includes recruitment agencies. Just consider – We prefer to buy things from people we trust. Employer behaviour is exactly the same. They prefer to buy skills from people they trust.
If you aren’t having any luck with agencies, it may be that you need to revise your self marketing strategy to include the hidden job market and also look for ways to improve your skills and experience. See “Where are the jobs? – Secrets of the Australian job market“ article for more.
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