Ok let me start with a bit of context. Firstly, I worked in the recruitment agency business for many years both as an employee and running my own agency, before going in-house. Secondly the blog is intended to give some guidelines and advice to people who may be using recruitment agencies for the first time. So, this blog is not an agency-bashing-blog, quite the opposite. Like all businesses and people – every one is different and has a different reasons for doing things that they do, so these comments are general advice and not necessarily relevant for every agency.
You want a job!
At the time of writing this blog, we are led to believe that we have come out of a pretty tough recession and that UK business in particular is on the up. So that makes finding a new job easy? Nope. Jobs are still hard to come by, so why not consider using a recruitment consultant? They are (in the UK at least) free of charge to the candidate (the employer pays the fees). What you might not know is the agency will, more often than not, not get paid until the successful person actually starts their job. So, it is in the agency’s interest to place the right person and do it properly.
Do they believe in you?
If they believe in you, a recruiter should hopefully have a great chance of making the employer believe in you. A recruitment consultant is a sales person selling you and your strengths after all. So you need to have a good, honest and open relationship with a recruitment consultant. In my opinion, this can really only be achieved by meeting the consultant or agency who will be representing you (either face to face or using technology like Skype for example). It’s much harder for them to sell your skills and strengths if they don’t know you.
Blurred lines and truth twisting…
You may have been tempted to ”adapt” your CV and therefore the consultant will do the same – so don’t lie. If you’re truthful about your experience and skills and the consultant is honest, the interviewer will get the real deal when they see you. It might be hard to spot if a consultant is going to be honest, that’s the leap of faith from your side but, going back to my previous point, a face to face meeting will help reassure you. At the end of the day, selling the real you is important – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard feedback from an interview where it’s been said that the person bore no resemblance to the CV…
Set the rules from the start and take control!
Every consultant will get and make hundreds of calls a week, so its tempting for them to find an easy way to represent you as a job seeker. The easy way can often lead you into a difficult situation without you knowing. From the start, ensure that the consultant understands that you want to know exactly where they are sending your CV. Often a consultant will send your CV by email to multiple employers at the same time. This might sound like a great idea, but consider if every agency that you’re registered with does the same, then a potential employer may get your CV (or a version of it) multiple times and start to doubt your credibility. More importantly, imagine if your CV fell into the hands of someone you didn’t want it to, for example your current boss… By setting the rules up front, you can control who does or doesn’t get your details.
Keep a record of each consultant, their email/phone number and agree how often and how you will contact each other. Your relationship with the consultant will suffer if you stalk them. Also keep a record of exactly who they’ve sent your details to, to avoid those duplicate CV moments (mentioned in last paragraph).
Can you keep a secret?
Consultants will nearly always ask you who you’ve already been to see or been spoken to about, including any contact you have made yourself. Consultants make a living out of chasing down leads on possible vacancies. It is entirely up to you if you decide to tell the consultant or not. There is no right or wrong answer to this. All I would say is that if you plan to keep the information to yourself, be straight with the consultant and tell them in a pleasant but firm manner. Again you should be in control. It’s worth considering whether you can use it as a way of building a relationship with your consultant but also keep in mind that you could be giving another candidate a chance of your perfect job.
Lastly, if you’re sending your CV electronically, send or upload it as a PDF version. This may well drive the consultant a bit mad, but there is a point to this. Once you send it by PDF, they will not be able to change anything without asking you first. I have witnessed consultants changing or removing things without the knowledge of the jobseeker as they thought it was the right thing to do. It might well be the right thing to do and, after all, they are supposed to be the expert, but by using a PDF they’ll need to ask you first.
Recruitment agencies offer another angle to job-seeking…. There are many ways to find the right role for you including you doing the hard work. Remember though, whatever route you take, you should control it and be honest and organised throughout.