Earlier this year, we hosted a panel looking at strategies for immediate job hunting where we welcomed recruitment consultants and social media specialists from a number of search firms and agencies to share their advice on how to look for and get a job. Recruitment agencies can be a useful addition to your job hunting toolkit, often having in-depth sector and recruitment knowledge as well as useful contacts within specific organisations. Below we set out some useful tips on how to approach them and get the most out of them.

1. Research the agencies

Before contacting any recruitment agency, you’ll need to conduct some research to identify those that best meet your needs and career aspirations. There are lots of different types – generalist, niche as well as some focused specifically on the graduate market, so think about what will work best for you.  Some well-known examples working with recent graduates include the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, Best Graduates  and Fresh Minds. If you’re interested in a particular industry, try to identify an agency that specialises in that sector. Check out the roles they have advertised on their website – do they reflect your interests and experience? Do they advertise entry-level and graduate roles or is their focus more on experienced hire? Have a look at our new resource, eGold Recruitment  which allows you to search a large database of recruitment consultants based on multiple criteria including location and level.  You can also find it within resources on CareerHub.

2. Know what they can do for you

The role of the agency is to assess your skills and experience, decide if you have what their client is looking for and put you forward for positions they feel you are likely to fit.   They are not there to provide general career advice. So make sure you’ve done your research in advance of meeting them and have a good understanding of the type of role and organisation you want – otherwise you could find yourself being pushed towards jobs that don’t actually interest you.  If you would like some advice on the different career areas that might suit you, do speak to one of our careers consultants before contacting any agencies!

3. Don’t over commit

Registering with too many agencies can be confusing and time consuming. It’s important to be able to keep track of positions you’re being considered for and through which agency. If you research them carefully, registering with two or three agencies should be a good starting point.  If this is not enough to get you what you want, maybe a rethink is necessary.

4. Build (and maintain) the relationship

Bear in mind recruitment agencies are paid by employers, not by you, the candidate, and their interest is in representing clients most likely to secure a job and therefore a fee.  Ensure you stand out from the other candidates and develop a good relationship with your consultant. Ideally you want to meet them face-to-face, and make a good first impression. It’s important to keep in contact with them, respond promptly to any requests for information and ensure you’re the first person they think of when they have a good vacancy.

5. Request feedback

Ensure your CV is up to date and does a good job of selling your key skills and achievements. Consultants work with lots of organisations and may have quite detailed insights into the sector and what employers are looking for. These insights can be used to modify your CV. If they do put you forward for a role and you’re unsuccessful at any stage of the recruitment process ask for feedback. This will help to manage your own expectations and understanding of what roles you may be suitable for.

6. Be enthusiastic and engaged

It’s of course not just about having the right skills, and agencies will only want to put forward candidates who will show them in a good light to the employer, so demonstrate enthusiasm, energy and professionalism in your communications with your consultant.  Be open minded when considering roles they suggest, but avoid letting them talk you into something you’re not interested in.

7. Be professional and prepared

When preparing for interview, make sure you do some wider research of your own into the organisation and sector, as you would do with any job application and interview. Using an agency is no excuse for being under prepared or less professional than with any other application.

8. Have a wider job search strategy

In the current climate many employers are looking to save money and source candidates directly through social media, rather than pay a finder’s fee to an agency, so using a recruitment agency should not be your only strategy for finding a job. Use a broad approach, speak to us, utilise social media tools such as LinkedInnetwork and keep up to date with online job boards like LSE CareerHub in order to increase your chances of securing that perfect role!

9. Finally…

Remember it’s illegal for recruitment agencies to charge you for helping find you a job – they are paid by their client, the hiring company.  If they suggest extra services, such as charging you for CV and interview advice, remember  you have access to free advice via LSE Careers, both through our website and a one-to-one appointment, so make the most of us. We look forward to seeing you!