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Recruitment agencies

Are you thinking about using a recruitment agency to find a graduate job or part-time work? This page tells you exactly what they are, when to use them and how to make the most of them.

What are recruitment agencies?

Recruitment agencies work on behalf of employers to find people to fill job vacancies. They are essentially middlemen between job seekers and employers.

When an employer has a job vacancy, they sometimes task an agency with finding suitable candidates. The recruitment agency will search its pool of CVs and sometimes post the job advert online to find more candidates. The agency will then usually shortlist candidates and organise interviews.

The service is free for jobseekers, although they may charge for additional services like providing CV advice. Remember, you can get this for free from us, even after you’ve graduated. Agencies make their money by charging employers.

Employers use recruitment agencies for many reasons:

  • They don’t have the staff to handle their own recruitment
  • They have an urgent need for particular staff
  • They have specialist vacancies (and may use a specialist recruitment agency to find suitable candidates)
  • They are not a well-known company and think an agency will help them attract more applications

Will a recruitment agency help me get a job?

There are benefits of using recruitment agencies, but it shouldn’t be the only way you look for work, especially if you’re searching for a graduate job. Here are some benefits of using recruitment agencies:

  • They can give you access to some jobs not advertised elsewhere. Why? Because some employers exclusively use recruitment agencies. This is especially true in the science sector
  • Specialist agencies will likely have in-depth knowledge of their particular sector
  • A good recruitment agency can be very productive on your behalf, saving you time in your job search
  • You’ll usually get constructive feedback if you don’t get shortlisted, helping you in future applications

How do I find recruitment agencies?

Agencies can be national or local. They can be focused on a specific industry or job sector, or they can cover a range of sectors. Websites like Agency Central and CV Library let you search for relevant agencies by location and job sector. If you’re looking for science agencies, read our recruitment agency information for STEM students.

If you’re struggling to find relevant agencies, talk to us.

Before you start using an agency, check whether it’s reputable. Websites like Rated Recruitment have reviews. Some agencies will be members of The Recruitment and Employers’ Confederation, although if they are not that doesn’t necessarily mean they are untrustworthy.

How do I join an agency?

You can join most agencies online by sending your contact details and a copy of your CV. Use the CV help from us before sending your CV, so you feel confident it’s up to standard.

It’s important to make sure you are using a reputable agency before you send this information. They’ll then be in touch with you to discuss what kind of jobs you’re looking for.

It’s fine to join more than one agency, but don’t get carried away. Only join agencies that you trust and that can help you – you don’t want to be inundated with calls and emails for irrelevant jobs, or receive multiple calls about the same vacancy.

Are Bright Network and Debut recruitment agencies?

No, but Bright Network and Debut work closely with employers and may be able to offer you opportunities not advertised elsewhere.

Tips for making the most of recruitment agencies

When dealing with the agency, try to:

  • be clear about the types of vacancies that interest you
  • make sure the agency deals with these types of vacancies
  • find out what policies and procedures are in place for submitting your details to an employer. For example, will they contact you first before submitting your details to an employer?
  • build up a good rapport with your consultant – remember they will be not only be putting your CV forward, but sometimes making preliminary selection decisions for the company and even running the assessment centre
  • keep in touch regularly to make sure the agency is still working proactively on your behalf
  • make sure you respond quickly to the agency, especially if they contact you with an opportunity.

Things to bear in mind:

  • Some agencies may work with very few employers who are relevant to you
  • Not all agencies will be particularly proactive
  • Not all agencies will be focused on your interests or objectives when offering advice – their role is to provide a person the employer needs for a specific vacancy or task
  • You should never be asked for a fee for an agency to find you employment; the client (employer) is charged for each successful placement
  • When you pass your CV to an agency you may lose a degree of control over where it goes and who sees it.