Thursday, 14 April 2011

Vox Populi, Opinions on Recruitment Agencies - Part 1 of 3

I have been craving for an article of this nature, not because I want to raise unnecessary issues for the sake of controversy, but because due to the present economical situation a lot of science researchers these days are facing a terrible time to find jobs. It is not only about commuting or relocating any more, unless you consider continental relocation an option, it is more of an empty-handed reality where if you are unlucky to be a new-comer, if you're on an entry level, if your government is on a cuts rampage, if you have less than 2 years of lab experience or have no adequate acquaintances in the meanders of those who can grant you an entry-stage research opportunity or  just allocate you on their waiting list for bursaries, stipends, scholarships, then you are in biiiiiiiiig trouble my friend.

As most of us who really believe in hard work, intelligence and commitment, defining a career is not about your will any more, it is not about you having the confidence to deliver and have proven it in so many occasions. A career is about three variables that when combined work as a solution of a certain pH: Biological factors (age, sex, racial background), Qualifications and Economical Background. For your career's pH you don't want the basic as you've studied you want to achieve higher and actually the more qualifications you hold the less likely to nail a simple technician job in a secondary school (they will immediately tell you they are afraid that in three months time you find something better and then'd fly away). You don't want the acid which is you being offered a position to which you are not prepared, where the responsibilities will make you a bitter person for you are not ready for such demands, for such commitment where you haven't been given the training and they expect you to know it all. You want your career to start neutral, and when I say neutral I am not stating that you want self-indulgence, easy lazy life, no, it's not that. You want to grow and climb that hierarchy ladder at a pace that you can afford as a professional and as an individual, avoiding a premature nervous breakdown. You want to use your qualifications and experience to 1st) nail that job, 2nd) deliver as you are normally expected, 3rd) learn fast and improve your skills so you can make the most of it.

Well, the extraordinary machine should work that way, but unfortunately it does not. And as in so many cases where there is an intermediary there is always wrong-doing, there are people who filter and select according to different patterns of assessment, there are situations where you can only expect to be successful but where the outcome is just so unexpected. You blame yourself, you blame the fierce competition, you blame the world economy, and you go through courses of how to write up covering letters and you pay to have your CV done, you ask for friends to look at it so other perspectives might work those mistakes repetitive writing sometimes shades on, you cry, redo, repeat and finally tilt. No "job" is ever done, no action is ever perfect. You can always improve and you have to ask that from yourself for there are many things that you might consider analyse and remake. But what if you just forgot to think about the one thing that most of the times can get your foot in the door - Recruitment Agencies. They are the one factor here that when all the rest is working accordingly can determine whether you progress or not to the interviewing stage. And you rely on them, you trust their capacities and that they, in fact, work for yourself, but like anyone else you can be compared to several other candidates, your skills can or can't be matched to the expectations. What about the recruitment agencies, who is in charge of assessing their services, their doings, their nature. It is also up to you, client/customer, to evaluate that, but I believe that some opinions collected from the web can generate an idea of what people do in deed think of recruiting agencies. 

In order to avoid bias the best I could, I only looked for the first 10 pages Google listed when I browsed for "Do you trust recruiting agencies?". Since the results were so interesting I had to compile them in a listed fashion where different people answer different questions that all lay on the vicinity of the central subject hereby discussed. So let's look at it:

1) Recruitment agencies - do they work?

(+) Jake, 19/11/2010: "I think they do and here's why. I graduated in 2009 and panicked. I had no idea what I wanted to do so registered on MR and a few others, kept in touch with Uni mates in case they heard of anything and registered with a temp agency. These were quick and easy to do and got the ball rolling. I then registered with a specialist recruitment agency for graduate jobs and was pleasantly surprised. First of all it didn't cost anything which I thought it might but recruiters pay them to find grads. Anyway got my CV looked at, which helped, then a consultant took me under their wing and suggested jobs I could go for. I thought they would be quite pushy if I disagreed but in fact the person was actually a graduate and had been doing the job for about 2 years I think so understood my concerns. After I choose a job to go for they prepared me for interview and loads more. To stop me rambling, I'll cut to the chase - they got me a job. Agencies won't place every single person but the thing for me was by going through their process I suddenly realised what I wanted to do which gave me a massive confidence boost."

(--) Lyd, 04/12/2009: "Many people spend 2-3 hours at a recruitment agency,  learn nothing about jobhunting from this process and feel that they wasted their time. You can spent your time researching companies you are interested in and apply directly to the company and even if you are unsuccessful at least you can learn about the sector of work you are interested in after reading up about the company. I have found most agencies unhelpful and the good news is that you are more likely to get an interview and be given a chance if you apply for a job without going through an agency because companies want to save money in this recession and they will be happy to save money if they give you the job and don't pay the agency to get them staff."

Yes (4 people) Maybe (1 person) No (4 people), check it here.

2) Can you trust employment agencies, are they shady?

(+) PandaJ, 21/01/2011: "I worked for Manpower and Snelling with excellent results. Just go somewhere with a national reputation and don’t type “bcz” or “thru” on your typing tests or resume."

(-) LBGirl, 21/01/2011: "Employment Agencies have never gotten me work. I had appointments with the offices. I spent hours filling out paper work, W2 forms and taking computer tests. They give me my time cards and employee information. They never call me and offer me assignments. When I call them, the answer is always the same. They had nothing for me. I have a BA in Business Management and I am computer literate. What is up with them? I have been to Apple One, Abigail Abbot, Dial, Thomas Staffing, Pro Staffing, Olympic Staffing, Volt, Kimco, etc., I see them at job fairs. I always tell them my experiences and not to waste my time. Each time they tell me they are different and they never are. Don’t waste your time. Like the above answer, respond to job leads posted directly through the employer. Private industry as well as the public sector. Good luck."

(-) Dan, 21/01/2011: "The agency is not looking out for your best interest they are looking out for themselves. With that said I would start looking in the classifieds and still try to get a job with the agencies looking. All the agencies I have worked for would not look for jobs i wanted so got away as soon as I could."

Yes (1 person) Maybe (1 person) No (3 people), check it here.

3) What do you hate about using recruiters?

(+) Brian O. (Senior Technical Recruiter at SNI Technology), a month ago"As a recruiting professional I don’t think it’s fair to make blanket statements such as “virtually all”. I do not disagree that there are too many recruiters that have a short sighted approach as to how they conduct business. But, for every unethical or unprofessional recruiter there are many more who do in fact work the right way and actually do put their client’s needs (company and candidate alike) first. The truth is a true professional recruiter understands that it doesn’t make sense to force a square peg into a round hole. In the end even if you do make the placement the company and candidate will almost certainly be frustrated and you will be the source of that frustration. Given this industry is such a small world (personal moral and ethical standards aside) it doesn’t make any sense to operate this way as you quickly gain a negative reputation. Just wanted to share my perspective as someone who strives to do things the right way."

(-) Charles C. (Director of Marketing at Trinity Software Distribution), a month ago: "Whether you are a hiring company or a job seeker the number one objection to using a recruiter, regardless of what they call themselves, is the total lack of an ethical compass.

To make matters worse so many recruiters and recruiting companies employ people that are totally untrained in human resources and they have next to no industry knowledge in the fields where they attempt to make placements.

This week there is going to be a match on "Jeopardy" between two of the most successful human contestants and an IBM computer named "Watson". The people at IBM claim that "Watson" thinks like a human, but it still has no clue regarding anything human. Even with that as a drawback "Watson" might be better suited for a role as a recruiter than virtually all of those folks working in the industry.

Check for more opinions here.

4) The Scam Behind The Agencies

I recently read an article written by Mark Bennis from London that offered a very deep insight of why people are starting to become fed up with recruitment agencies. Below you can find a very interesting approach on his idea of how the scam works, here you can find the rest of the article with many opinions from several web surfers.

"This one is personal to me about just over a year and half ago we moved to a new area, I quickly went on the look for some employment. I had travelled to all the local business nearby and had just popped in one, a metals factory. I asked one of the guys if there was any work going, only to get that dreaded reply “we don't take anyone on anymore, we only hire them through Agency".
Dam it! I thought, so I asked for the agency number, I gave them a ring and they said as they always say, "we will take your details and if something comes up we will give you a ring".
Much to my surprise they had replied 2 days after and it worked out they had got me a job at that very same metal factory. Cool I thought, after a couple of days working the Agency contacts me via post with a long and detailed contract to sign.
It works out to be hired by this Agency I will have to be:
1.    Self employed with a unique tax reference, so I will pay my own tax and national Insurance. OK I'll get one
2.    They will pay me a lower wage usually a couple of pounds less per hour then say the guys that actually work for the company, OK I need the job.
3.    Then the Scam!
4.    You will have to sign up with a Limited Company to get paid!
So let’s get this right, I Walk into a business to ask for work just a manual workers job to be told I will have to sign up to this Agency.
I sign up to this Agency and they take money of me every hour because they say that they are my new employer.
Only to be told you will have to be Self Employed and be responsible for your own Tax and Insurance.
Then to be told that in order to be paid I have to sign up to this other Agency that will charge me £25 per week, that's a £100 a month, £1200 per year!
IS THIS EVEN LEAGLE!! Can they really get away with it!! Sure they can and they do every day across the dam spectrum of the so called Agency world. It’s like you just got to except it or stay on the dam dole...
The other scam I believe is in play here at most of the Employment Agencies is that, you sign on with these Agencies online or whatever. They take your e-mail and your contact details and they can make money from it. Yes they can, it’s a business and your e-mail was given to them by you. You are now on their 'LIST' and they can sell this or share this with their Partners for financial gain.
It’s the same for these so called online 'Quick Payday Loans' types, you apply online only to be turned down and land on their partner’s page. Yeah you guessed it, so you put your details again and then it just repeats and repeats, until you give up!
Then you check your e-mail and there are hundreds 'maybe a little exaggerated' but you get spammed! Again! Again! And again...


Time to round this one up for the sake of the reader, that's if you even made it this far, Are well. This has been a growing problem that has nearly ripped of all our Trades people in the building Trade but, It’s the poor working person that can’t get a decent wage that this really effects.
Plus for all those trying endlessly to get employment this may give you something to think about, so chin up and remember it’s not because your C.V and skills are not appreciated. It’s just the Dam Agencies!!!"
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That is not all folks, this subject is huge in importance and content. So wait for it as this week still you will have part 2 and 3 ready for you to build up your own opinion on this x-ray. Regardless of your position The Toxicologist Today would love to have a taste of what is your idea on recruitment agencies, if they do work properly in your country and if they can actually help you kick-start that desired career in science (if possible) or any other industry if by any chance you are not science related. Just try answer these same questions posted in this article, for an instance. 

And remember, for part 2 and 3 the blog will develop the following:

Would you trust an online job agency that offers their services in return for a fee?

The use of recruiting agencies in the United States

How to manage recruitment agencies

Understanding recruitment consultants

Interview with a recruitment agency, what should you expect

Whose advice should you trust

What about temp jobs agencies?

The Singapore Example

The Korean Example

Top 10 Tips for using employment agencies,

Stay tuned!!!


  1. Search for a reliable and reputable recruitment agencies. Investigate first and be careful in trusting them.
    Job Agencies Melbourne

  2. I've been out of work for coming close to a year now in South Florida. I recall many years ago signing up with a recruitment agency. They tested me and were seemingly impressed with my skills. Yet every time, I checked in with them, they fed me a line and no job placements ever materialized. So recently, I answered a job ad as is required for me to collect my unemployment insurance and was contacted by a recruitment agency. I was surprised to get a call from them since so many of my job searches in the past 10 months have gone unanswered. So I went, introduced myself, filled out their forms and interviewed with a recruiter. Usually, these encounters are pleasant. Nonetheless I went home feeling optimistic with a wait-and-see disposition. Oddly, I got a call that afternoon from the same agency but from another person who asked me to come in the next day. This was different from my experience during the previous 10 months, but I made yet another appointment to go back to the same location for yet another encounter. Why this person did not meet with me when I was already at that location did come to mind. In any case,the next day I met and spoke with two new persons who seemed interested and gave me the impression of possibilities. This was a Tuesday, and they led me to think I would hear from them by Friday. It's now a week later and I've not heard from anyone despite my following up with e-mails. I'm not so surprised though I am disappointed. Still, I won't shut the door on any hope with regards to the agency. My impression of many of these agencies, however, is that they like to sign up as many people as they can to possibly show their clients -- real businesses seeking staffing -- that they have this huge database of potential candidates. It would be more honest towards the job seekers if these agencies showed a queue of all of the people they have recruited for each single possible placement rather than make you feel that you're a fit for the particular position which may or may not exist but which they throw in the interview speech and dangle in front of you like bait. Perhaps, I should have been suspicious when one of the recruiters actually stated the alleged employer's name. I don't think a recruiter would want you to contact the employer/business directly and cut them out of the equation.

  3. You are utterly right when you say:

    "My impression of many of these agencies, however, is that they like to sign up as many people as they can to possibly show their clients"


    "It would be more honest towards the job seekers if these agencies showed a queue of all of the people they have recruited for each single possible placement rather than make you feel that you're a fit for the particular position which may or may not exist but which they throw in the interview speech and dangle in front of you like bait."

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