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Working with a recruitment agency: What you need to know

Ben Alger our consultant managing the role
Posted by Ben Alger
Published on 26 January 2017

While there’s no longer a recruitment agent’s office on every high street, the sector has rapidly expanded since the advent of the internet, with specialists working tirelessly to match job openings to eager candidates.

Some will get in touch with you while you’re already employed to see if you’re open to new opportunities, while some will be ready to help when you’re unexpectedly thrust into the job market. Regardless of when you encounter them, it’s useful to know a bit about how they work so you can get the best out of the relationship. 

They work for you, not the recruiter

The business model of recruitment agencies relies on their own success. Apart from certain retainer clients or headhunting operations, the vast majority of transactions are done on a commission-only basis once a candidate is successfully placed (and has passed probation).

Think of it like a ‘no win no fee’ lawyer or an estate agent who will take a percentage of the sale price once the keys have finally been handed over. This gives employers a no-risk strategy for finding candidates while consecutively running their own internal referral schemes or accepting direct applications. External recruiters are heavily incentivised to only put forward the best candidates for each role.

That means they want you to be successful, and will provide valuable support in adjusting your CV, useful tips for each interview you attend, and will often lead salary negotiations too - every extra £1,000 they can add to your value also increases their revenue.

They will deconstruct your CV

Spending hours crafting the perfect layout for your skills and employment history may make you feel like you’re being productive in your job search, but a lot of this effort will go out of the window once it’s in the hands of a recruitment agent.

In all likelihood they’ll remove the tabs, tables, fonts and formats, before sending over a stripped-back text-only document for clients to review. This is done for a number of reasons:

  • Compatibility - there are dozens of different email clients and versions of Word, each having its own unique way of displaying things; the only way to mitigate that is to take it back to basics. Even PDFs aren’t foolproof and can be a pain when it comes to copying and pasting.
  • Anonymity - Sometimes recruiters need to remove your address, phone, email and social media details - that means if your document is relying on the reader to “See LinkedIn for more details” they may be missing out on important information.
  • Branding - Employers may be using 3-4 different agencies for the same role and each will be protective of their candidates. You’re essentially their ‘product’ so they may wish to add their logo, contact details and other embellishments to your document so it’s unmistakably theirs.

To make things quicker and easier for yourself and us at Quanta, please send or upload your CV in Word format.

Each has a different process for managing money

In contract roles where you’re engaged by recruitment agency themselves rather than by the employer, it’s essential you read the fine print before signing up to a role.

For many logistical (or tax-related) reasons, the company that you work for isn’t necessarily the one that will be listed on your payslip. At Quanta, we don’t operate a PAYE initiative so you will need a designated umbrella or limited company.

They can teach you a lot about your industry

Recruiters arguably know more about certain specialisms than those actually working in them. They have a bird’s-eye view of goings-on across a number of companies and will often be at the forefront of the next big developments that will shape a sector.

This makes them incredibly useful when you’re planning out your future career - what are the trending skills that employers are seeking? What job roles are becoming obsolete and which are more prevalent? Armed with this information you can go on courses and attend conferences to get better equipped for the world of work.

If you find a recruitment agent that you get on with, don’t just discard them once your job search is over. Just like finding a good car mechanic, hang onto them - they could prove to be handy for many years to come. Many of our Quanta contractors have been with us for years, and we pride ourselves on building strong, long-lasting relationships with candidates and clients alike. Contact us today to find out more!