Registering with a recruitment agency

You might think that registering with a recruitment agency is an easy way of getting someone else to do all the leg work when job hunting. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. You still need to be hands on to get the best out of the situation. Not convinced? Read our guide to getting a job through a recruitment agency.

Two young women are thinking about registering with a recruitment agency. This is a wide-angle image.

What do recruitment agencies do?

Recruitment agencies are not the same thing as employment agencies. They are local work agencies which carry out job searches on behalf of employers to find suitable candidates for vacant positions. Some agencies specialise in particular industries, while others cover a range of sectors.

How does registering with a recruitment agency work?

You’ll usually have a one-to-one interview with a recruitment consultant before registering with a recruitment agency. That way they can find out what kind of job roles you’re looking for, and what skills and experience you have. You may also have to complete a test of some sorts. For example, a typing assessment if you’re applying for an administration job.

How can I make myself stand out with a recruitment agency?

Darryl Shires from the recruitment agency Manpower says job seekers should treat their job search meeting like it’s a formal job interview. “It’s crucial to make a good impression,” he said. “You wanna stand out. This means that you need to know what your skills are, have an idea of what you want and make sure that your CV is up to date. Not to mention motivation and desire to succeed cannot be underestimated.” Basically, it’s best if you prepare for agency interviews just as you would any other. And have personal details like your national insurance number and maybe even birth certificate, or some form of ID, at the ready.

Following on from that, if you need some job interview tips or advice? Check out this article. We’ve also got some tips for how to write your CV here.

Should I ever pay to use a recruitment agency?

Put simply – No. Recruitment agencies in the UK are paid by the employers they’re finding suitable candidates for. So if an agency asks for payment, find another one. And for added security, use an agency which has signed up to a professional code of conduct like the REC.

Can I register with more than one recruitment agency?

Totally– and you really, really should. It’ll exponentially improve your chances of finding a job.

Getting a job through a recruitment agency: how it works

Getting a job through a recruitment agency works differently depending on the type of work you’re looking for. For casual and temporary work, it’s slightly simpler. You have the chance to be taken on by an employer straight away. 

On the other hand, for a full-time, permanent job, the company’ll probably wanna see what you’re like first. If you’ve been registered with your agency for a while and they haven’t found you any work, don’t be afraid to talk to your recruitment consultant to find out why. There may be a simple explanation. For instance, there isn’t enough of the type of work you want in your local area. Or it could be more about the current state of the economy. Either way, you’ll be able to plan your next steps accordingly.

Which recruitment agencies should I go for – a big national chain or a local company?

We’re gonna be Switzerland here and say that there are benefits to both. According to Tom Hardy, from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, “Local agencies will know the local jobs market. Alternatively, if you know you want a job in a specific industry, for example public relations (PR) or advertising, consider using a specialist agency. They’ll usually have a lot of contacts in those types of fields,” he said.

What are the advantages of using a recruitment agency?

Recruitment consultants can help get you further through the door with an employer. Especially compared to what a speculative CV would do for you. And because some employers carry out their recruiting solely through agencies they can give you access to jobs that aren’t even advertised in the open market or on social media.

What are the disadvantages of using a recruitment agency?

Agencies work on behalf of employers, so their role is to fill positions for their clients. This means that while most will try to find you the kind of job you want, not all of them have your best interests at heart. Some may try to convince you to go for interviews that you know aren’t right for you, just to fill numbers. Having said that, our advice is to be open-minded, but don’t feel pressured into going for the wrong kind of jobs. There are lots of agencies out there. So if, after you register with a recruitment agency, you don’t like the way it operates, you can always move on to another

Next Steps

By Sophie Freeman

Updated on 07-Jun-2022