5 Ways to get a recruitment agency to work for you

Recruiters do not work every CV that comes into their agency. The first screen is to determine whether candidates can do the job advertised. Then they “qualify” candidates before deciding to work on your job search. Most recruiters work on a commission basis, and work candidates that are likely to lead to a placement. In return you get their undivided attention and often a good job opportunity.

Here are the qualifying criteria and what you will need to do to get them working your CV:-

  1. Offer them exclusivity
    Recruitment agencies and recruiters need to know that you are using them exclusively for your job hunt. Working with 5 other agencies, or responding to adverts while using an agency, greatly reduces your chances of a recruiter prioritising your job search. Exclusivity means you work with them and only them. When you see a job advert or hear of other positions you let your recruiter know and ask them to represent you. Where 5 other agencies are working your CV, it gives them a 1:5 chance of making a placement. With exclusivity they have a 1:1 chance. If you want a recruiter to take your job hunt seriously, offer them exclusivity. Fair game, since this is how you will get dedicated time to your job search and 100% commitment from a recruiter. A minimum of two weeks exclusivity is required.

  2. Be realistic about money expectations
    Many candidates come to recruitment agencies with unrealistic money expectations. You’re on R20k a month and you want R35k a month. Recruiters know that the chances of you getting a large increase on your current salary are limited. The most anyone can expect is a 10% – 15% increase. Salaries are negotiable if you have not yet received your annual increase, if you are below market related salary, or if you are in high demand and happen to be one of the best in industry. Employers are not sympathetic to your friend earning more or that you are living beyond your means. Recruiters will not work your CV if you are going to make unrealistic money demands. Clients won’t want to interview you and recruiters don’t want to waste their time. Let your recruiter counsel you on what is a reasonable expectation. Let them negotiate your salary.

  3. Reasons for leaving other than money
    When recruiters hear that your reason for leaving your current company is “more money”, it raises a red flag. Employers are reluctant to hire “money movers”. Recruiters know this and will often ask, “What reasons other than money do you have for wanting to leave your current employer?” Recruiters know that prospective employers will not risk taking you on because they think that you will move for the highest bidder. They know that when a higher paying job comes along you will up and leave them. This after they have gone to enormous expense hiring you and investing in your skills development. Recruiters will also be hesitant to work your CV because they give their clients a guarantee period, after which they lose a placement fee or have to replace you if you leave within a stipulated period. “More money” is a short sighted reason for making a career move. It is wiser to move for an opportunity to increase your skills base, for global or international exposure or for an opportunity to work with an industry leader.

  4. Do not accept counter offers
    The last thing any recruiter wants to hear after spending hours finding you a job, is that you have accepted a counter offer. Recruiters ask very specific questions to “test” whether you are likely to accept a counter offer. If they think you might, they will not prioritise your job search. Accepting a counter offer is, as they say in the recruitment industry, “tantamount to career suicide”. Recruiters often find that candidates accepting a counter offer are back within 3 months asking them for the lost job opportunity. Companies want to keep good employees because of the high cost of replacing you. While it’s often flattering, employers feel you are no longer loyal. It’s a knee jerk reaction for them. Their goal is often to keep you until they can replace you.
    Also, many candidates “use” recruiters to get job offers. They use the job offer as currency to pressurise their current employers to improve their terms and conditions. Recruiters are trained to distinguish these candidates and will not work your CV if they suspect this.

  5. Be a co-operative candidate
    Recruitment is a highly fast paced industry. Recruiters need to know that they can trust you to work with them and at their pace. This means sending your CV when you say you are going to send your CV. Stick to your exclusivity agreement. Make yourself available for interviews whenever they secure you interviews with prospective employers. Arrive for interviews and arrive on time for interviews. Call them back immediately when they leave a message. Be honest about who you are and your qualifications. Reveal to them if you have any “skeletons in the closet” and not leave e.g. your dismissal as a surprise after you’ve been on an interview with their client. Phone them after your interview to let them know how the interview went. Phone them after you’ve handed in your resignation. Follow their advice during interviews. Update them regularly on your job hunting status. Let them know if you are using other agencies, if you have sent your CV to any employers or if you are interviewing anywhere else. Let them know if you have changed your mind on a job offer, instead of failing to arrive for your first day of work.
    These are some of the ways you can be assured of getting value from a recruitment service. If you work with them, they will work wonders for you.