5 tips for job hunting with recruitment agents

Posted by | July 16, 2015 | Job hunters, Looking for work

5 tips for job hunting with recruitment agents blog header

Welcome to the world of recruitment agents!

If you are hunting for a new role in the areas of administration, government, IT or digital media (and sometimes charities), chances are you may be considering working with a recruitment agency. You might be full time hunting or just testing the waters and looking for a confidential chat while you are still working. As I’ve found out recently, successful collaboration with a recruitment agent can be more complex than first imagined. To help you out, here are 5 tips from my experience.


#1. Finding diamonds in the rough: Establishing a quality relationship with an agent.

Not all agents are the same and it’s worth talking to at least a few to see who you can work well with. From my experience, what separates a good agent from the rest is that they understand your skill set, know what you want out of your next position, provide you with good, realistic advice about the market, and keep you well-informed and updated on any roles for which you are put forward.

While agents can be very busy, those who simply take your details and don’t provide you with any guidance, feedback or updates are less likely to be working hard to find you a good role. It’s worth taking the time to shop around and see who you might click well with toward your goal of getting a new job. It’s also worth thinking of this collaboration as a potential long-term relationship: you may wish to come back to the same agent in 2 or 3 years when job hunting again.


#2. Agents come in all flavours: Finding the right match for your specialisation and contract wishes.

Before you go and see an agent it is worth spending some time looking at the specialisations of the company and of the particular agent. Some companies will focus on particular industries such as IT or government. Some agents will focus on different kinds of contracts, from temporary to contract or permanent work. Talk with your agent about what you are after and see what they can do to help. For example, if you are open to both temporary and permanent roles on offer, it could be a good idea to see two different specialists within the same company.

Sometimes agents aren’t actually contacted directly by prospective employers and instead simply lift roles from job search websites. In other cases, they will advertise a role, but in a generic sense which leaves you wondering where the job actually is and what you would actually be doing. In the first case, weigh up the advantages of applying direct vs. going with an agent. In the latter case, my tactic has been to get on the phone to the agent and get more details about the role. In this way, I have more of a chance to tailor my CV and cover letter to the specifics of the position.

(Remember too that recruitment agencies often charge a hefty finders-fee, so going direct to an organisation can also be a good idea, especially in the not for profit sector!)


#3. Need an alternative to your midday sesh wth Dr Phil? Agents can provide great career counselling-type advice.

Now I’m not advocating that you show up to your first meeting with a new agent with a box of tissues ready to spill your emotional baggage. However, agents do sympathise with the difficulties of job hunting and will often give you job interview tips and advice on what kind of role you should go after and how long it might take to get. At the end of the day, agents have great people skills and empathy. They know you may be in a vulnerable position, and generally, you can afford to be frank with an agent about exactly what you are looking for in a new position.


#4. It’s all about the money, money, money: Recruitment agents and pay matters.

Recruitment agents are looking to make placements to get a fee, so this is something to bear in mind. That said, agents often have well-established connections to hiring managers to help promote your application that you wouldn’t have otherwise have had in your favour. They can be very savvy when it comes to providing you with advice on salary and hourly rate expectations. On the other hand, you have to decide for yourself and stipulate to your agent what your expected remuneration is from a particular role.

I even came across a particular situation where two agents were wanting to put me forward for a role at different salary rates! You cannot undersell yourself, but if you pitch too high, you may miss out on a career progressing opportunity. As run DMC wisely put it, it’s tricky!


#5. More eggs, more baskets! Don’t rely solely on agents.

While agents can be a great way to get a new job, learn about the market, get career advice and gauge your worth as an employee, it’s best to think of working with agents in your job hunt as just one tool in the tool kit. Apply directly to ads, network, and get the word out there that you are hunting.

Best of luck to you!


P. S here are some Kiwi recruitment agents that specialise in not for profit roles in NZ.

  • Execucare – specialise in recruitment for charities and educational, arts and medical organisations
  • NICHE Recruitment – have a (niche) team who focus on NGO recruitment
  • McLaren Associates – a Wellington-based recruitment company with a strong focus on charity and NGO recruitment nationwide.

Know of any others who should be on this list? Email us at [email protected]


By Anita Perkins

Like this post? You might also like Throwing in the Towel: The trials and tribulations of job hunting land  and Learning from Rejection: finding out why you didn’t get the job


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