Monday, 18 April 2011

Vox Populi, Opinions on Recruitment Agencies - Part 2 of 3

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

Anonymous, 10 months ago: "In one word. NO. There are loads of employment agencies out there, I am a member of a few myself, and I have NEVER paid for the service they offer. They earn their money when they get you into a job. If they don't get you into a job then they don't get anything and you don't have a job. You gain together and lose together.
Find somewhere else to register with."

I could only find one single reply to this question here.

The use of recruiting agencies in the United States:

I read the article on the web and selected the most relevant ideas, but if you want to read the full content find it here. Even though the main root is more focused on recruiting for higher education institutions, still an x-ray on recruitment agencies' ethics is provided by Nick Clark.

Nick Clark, Editor, World Education News & Reviews - "On the surface and in the current economic climate, the practice of engaging agents appears a logical move for U.S. colleges and universities in terms of their return on investment, as the commission model compensates agents once a student is enrolled and on campus. In addition, the pressure from abroad is significant. US institutions of higher education have seen their market share dwindle over the last decade as other countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom have capitalized on the aggressive use of agents. However, there is much more to the story than cost and expediency. There are issues related to ethics, institutional reputation and brand, transparency, commercialization of higher education, conflicts of interest, trust, and the list goes on. With passionate and legitimate arguments on both sides of the issue, the decision on whether or not to employ commissioned agents as part of an institution’s international recruitment strategy is a serious matter." [1]

"The number of international students referred and placed by agents has been growing rapidly in recent years and is forecast to continue increasing. According to the 2007 findings of an annual survey by international education research group i-graduate, 880 agents collectively placed more than 60,000 students at institutions abroad in 2006, and a majority expected to send more abroad in 2007. In the 2008 edition of the survey, the ICEF Agent Barometer, nearly 1,100 agents from 119 countries responded, with 66 percent of respondents stating that for undergraduate referrals they are currently placing students in the United Kingdom, followed by the United States (57 percent) and Australia (53 percent). Similar numbers were reported at the graduate level." [1]

"Despite the recent efforts of the AIRC to set standards and bring paid international recruiting into the mainstream, there remains significant opposition to the practice among many in U.S. higher education, mainly on ethical grounds. The payment of third-party recruiters, especially on a commission basis, is perceived by many education professionals as unethical because when an agent’s income is dependent on the number of enrollments or leads he or she provides, it is generally believed that the agent’s first priority is likely to be his or her own financial interest, which would influence the advice given to students." [1]

"Clarifying the U.S. government’s position on the matter, the State Department in September 2009 issued policy guidelines that prevent EducationUSA offices from working with recruiting agencies that have contracts to represent specific American institutions, stating that they lack the necessary objectivity to properly advise students." [1]

“They [agents] may tell a parent that they are helping to find a “good match” but in fact that match is limited to the two, three or ten colleges with whom the agent has a contract and they only suggest colleges who pay them a finder’s fee. That is not consulting. Consultants work independently of colleges and make suggestions based solely on the best interest of the student.” [1]

How to manage recruitment agencies:

Managing Director, Corinne Mills provides 10 top tips on how to manage recruitment agencies:
1.    Respond quickly to an agency's telephone call or email as they may be competing to get their candidates considered by the employer ahead of those of a rival agency's [2].
2.    Agencies like candidates who are looking for roles that are consistent with their previous work history and therefore easier to sell.  Make sure that your CV sells you as an obvious choice for your target roles [2].
3.    If you are looking for a career change, then unless you can persuade them that you are a better candidate than the more obvious candidates, they are unlikely to put you forward [2].
4.    Agencies have fee targets to reach and their priority is the customer who is the employer, not you.  Do not expect them to work on your behalf - they won't [2].
5.    When applying on-line to an agency for a particular role, ensure that your CV includes lots of appropriate keywords such as those featuring in the advert and job description.  These keywords will be used to select candidates with the right expertise from the database [2].
6.     If a job advert sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.  Don't be surprised if you are told that this job has been filled only to see it resurface at a later date.  Even though it is against the REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) code of practice, agencies use fake jobs as a way to attract good candidates for potential vacancies in the future [2].
7.    You should never have to part with any money to a recruitment agency.  It is unlawful for anyone to charge you a fee or commission to get you a job.  The only exception is in the entertainment and modelling sector where they will actively promote you [2].
8.    Go for roles that you want.  While the recruitment agent may be very persuasive, do not be pressured into considering a role that you know you don't want.  It is a waste of time for everyone concerned if you are put forward for a role that you never have any intention of accepting [2]. 
9.    Be honest and make sure grades, employment dates etc are accurate.  Inconsistencies that are picked up by an employer will reflect badly on the agency and they may lose trust in putting you forward for future vacancies [2].
10.    Think beforehand about your salary requirements and check with the agency that these are realistic, they will have a good handle on market rates [2]. 
Corinne Mills is Managing Director of the UK's leading career management company Personal Career Management and author of the UK's no. 1 bestselling CV book "You're Hired - How to write a brilliant CV".

[1] - The use of recruitment agencies in the United States - Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling,, last visited on the 18th of April 2011, last update unknown.

[2] - How to manage recruitment agencies - Personal Career Management,, last visited on the 18th of April 2011, last update unknown.


  1. Nice Article! Thanks for sharing with us.

    IT Staffing

  2. life science recruitment
    Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.

  3. Thanks a lot for the comments guys!

  4. Recruitment agencies help the employers in finding the best suited person to the position.
    Temp staffing services

  5. In most cases people apply for the services of an employment agency when they are stuck in their job search and are not getting calls for interviews
    IT Jobs UK