Together is better – agency relationships in the recruitment process

by Turlach McAlister, director with Clarion Resourcing

It’s a minefield out there.  Seeking out your next career move in a tightening employment market is no task for the faint-hearted.  Simply put, you need all the help you can get.

While many job seekers will use the services of a recruitment agency at some stage in their career, choosing the right agency is critical and shouldn’t be taken lightly.  This organisation is essentially charged with representing you and your career aspirations to prospective employers and you need to ensure that their business approach to that employer is professional and competent, every step of the way.

Choosing an agency that subscribes to the National Recruitment Federation code of conduct will give you the control you need to determine when and to whom your CV will be submitted.

The much forecasted demise of the traditional recruitment agency due to the digital world is well overstated.  In fact, some would argue that in the current recessionary climate, the services of recruitment agencies are in even more demand.  Many organisations, who try to handle the recruitment process in-house, quickly discover that as demand significantly outstrips supply, the overhead required to deal with such voluminous applications is very often prohibitive and one which requires the screening input of a professional third party recruitment agency.

This is where the importance of the candidate/agency relationship kicks in.

We’re not arguing that in all cases candidates need to use an intermediary.  In some instances, it may be preferable to conduct an applications process directly to the employer.  For example, some US multinational organisations exclusively conduct their recruitment in-house but in the vast majority of cases, it makes sense to partner with a professional, knowledgeable and well-respected agency that can proactively partner with you on your journey to the next stage in your career development pathway.

  • What kind of agency – big or small?
    There are pros and cons for both types of agencies.  On the one hand, larger agencies may be able to submit your CV for more roles, increasing the likelihood of a successful placement.  However, quality and not quantity is the name of the game.While it might be tempting to apply for many roles with the ‘encouragement’ of your recruitment consultant, you need to ensure that these roles are consistent with your career aspirations and remain true to your own goals and objectives.   Stick to your guns and resist the temptation to keep your consultant ‘on side’ – you should be in firm control of your destiny at all times.It can be argued that smaller, niche agencies are in a better position to provide high levels of client service.  Because they tend to specialise in certain sectors or certain disciplines, the quality of engagement with the recruitment consultant and their knowledge of the market is very often of superior to that of more general agencies.
    For example, as specialists in program and project management, we find that over 70 pc of our project managers candidates return to us for new placements.Similarly, it can be a lot easier to build strong, lasting relationships with a smaller team of consultants.  Dealing with a few individuals over time lends itself to a closer connection between candidate and consultant and really allows the consultant to better understand your career aspirations.  Establishing a good fit is often easier under these circumstances.
  • A valuable source of free advice and guidance
    Don’t forget that your recruitment consultant is always a source of free advice and guidance, particularly in smaller agencies.  Your consultant should be only too happy to help you with CV preparation guidelines, interview tips and other practical hints to help you put your best foot forward to secure that role.If you detect a certain reluctance on the part of your consultant to engage with you in this manner, it might be time to change agency.  Perhaps their setup is too large and impersonal to allow for this level of individual attention.
  • Communication – it’s a two-way street
    Communication works both ways.  When you first submit to a new agency, you should receive a preliminary confirmation followed by direct contact from a consultant to discuss your career path.  The CV submission may be prompted by an advertised role, which may or may not work out on first attempt.A good consultant will proactively scour the jobs database for other potential opportunities and will regularly check back with you as new placements come in from employers.A good agency will maintain communications with you through-out the year making calls to either catch-up on circumstances, check if you are looking for new opportunities or contacting you about a specific role/opportunity that they feel may be of interest to you.  If you agency is not doing this then find one like Clarion that does.
  • Fringe benefits
    Don’t forget that recruitment agencies very often have broader industry partnerships that you can benefit from.  For example, on-going career development and training is critical and something which is exceptionally difficult for contractors or freelancers to invest in.For example, at Clarion Resourcing we offer our candidates exclusive training discounts with select training providers making continuous professional development that bit easier for those dependent on their own resources to fund on-going education and industry certification.
  •  Negotiation
    It is also worth remembering that while for you job hunting for permanent roles is something that you do every few years (depending on your career cycle) your recruitment consultant is doing this every day.  They have a depth of understanding about the market trends and perhaps most importantly rates.  Recruitment consultants from a good agency will be skilled in contract negotiation and will be well placed and experienced in getting you the best possible package (in line with the market and your specific experience and skills).


On April 16th, 2013, posted in: Blog by


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