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How to work with recruitment agencies

Whether you’re an independent contractor or long-term employee, how should you deal with recruitment agencies? Knowing how to best work with recruitment agencies can be complicated – but these questions and answers are a start.

Do all organisations use recruitment agencies? No, but most will. Once a new role has been authorised, the first step could be internal recruitment. If there are no strong internal candidates then HR may complete an external search. If unsuccessful, the vacancy could be placed with agencies.

Can the same job sit with multiple agencies?
Yes. Two separate agencies might source the same candidate; whichever submits that candidate to the client first ‘wins’ if that candidate is recruited. Agencies therefore work with urgency to submit CVs.

How do I select which agencies to work with?
Submit your CV to agencies that have a track record in your industry.

Are they advertising for roles that are similar to what you are looking for?
Call them and ask them about their roles and track record.

Rate or salary negotiations
For most roles, the agency has a commercial interest in your salary or contract day rate. They may therefore really help negotiate a higher salary or day rate. If they ask you not to discuss contract day rates at interview, be cautious. They might be looking to pay you a lower rate and charge the client a much higher one. References For permanent roles, the hiring organisation will follow up your references. For contract roles, the agency will perform this activity. If an agency asks for your references very early in the recruitment process ask them why. They might just be fishing for new contacts.

Selection process
The agency should keep you informed of progress if your CV has been submitted. If you are invited to interview, the agency should arrange the logistics and may also provide advice and guidance. Once the interview is over, the agency will follow up to collect feedback. You should always ask for interview feedback, good or bad, so ask the agency to be honest. Agencies might receive only very limited feedback from the hiring organisation – sometimes just a ‘no’.

Visit the careers section for more guidance.


Vince Hines is managing director at Wellingtone Project Management, an APM career development partner.

Other blogs in this series:

This blog first appeared as an article in the Spring edition of Project Journal.

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