Should you use a recruitment agency?



Following on from our last blog article regarding How to work effectively with recruitment agencies, we spoke to representatives from two specialist agencies – Jo Galt from WM Recruit, which specialises in flexible working, and James Peters, the Founder and Director of recruitment agency JustRecruit which works mainly with SMEs and charities. They gave some advice on how recruitment agencies can help you with your next career move.

How does it benefit candidates by applying for work via a recruitment agency?

Jo Galt: We are a specialist agency with a focus on flexible working. We help our candidates find a flexible role so they can meet family commitments or achieve a better work/life balance. As well as identifying a suitable role, we support you through the interview process, negotiate salary and have an upfront conversation with the client about flexible working.

JP: Hiring Managers often get inundated with CV’s and it can be hard to get across your full range of skills and personality on a two-page document. Applying through an Agency allows us to put forward a case for why you would be suitable for the role. In addition, it is often the case that after an interview, people tell us they forgot to mention x,y, and z. When we follow up with the client we can bring that into the conversation and it gives the hiring manager a fuller picture of the candidate’s skills and experience.

Some people feel that when they have applied for work via a recruitment agency they often feel like they never hear anything back. Is there any advice you would give the candidates?

JG: Recruitment agencies get a large amount of applications for each job everyday so it’s difficult to give feedback to every one. However, if you are in the interview process you should be offered feedback and progress updates along the way. I would recommend calling the recruiter if you haven’t heard back as we get inundated with emails!

JP: Although we would like to get back to everyone it simply is not possible. Often we will have in excess of 20+ jobs that we are working on with clients to find the right candidate. The average application rate is over 50 applicants per job, with around 15-18 being telephone interviewed to get a shortlist of 3-5 to present to the client. If we were to get back to everyone, we would have no time to work with clients.

A recruiter’s role is to find the right candidates for a client, not to find a candidate the right job. It sounds harsh but we work in a very challenging business where margins are constantly under pressure. It usually is not personal and my advice would be to take the bull by the horns and contact the recruiter for feedback or express an interest in a job you like the look of.

What advice would you give candidates to ensure they stand out from other applicants?

JG: Have a clear and informative CV that not only overs your career history but includes achievements and successes along the way. Apply for role and follow up with the recruiter with a phone call and be prepared to tell them why you think you are a good fit for the position!

JP: If you truly have the skills and experience for a role you see advertised, as well as applying online – call the recruiter and speak to them. Often they are under pressure to deliver the right candidate in a timely fashion, so if you tick the boxes and are pro-active in your approach it usually stands out. Don’t be put off if the recruiter asks to call you back, likely they are working to a tight deadline on another role and will call you once they have dealt with that. Those that shout loudest usually get heard.

A big issue for working mums is how best to explain career gaps or changes of course. What should you do?

JG: We would recommend adding a line in your CV to explain why you had the career gap or change of course, making sure you add the dates e.g “2012-2015 – Maternity leave and career break to raise my children.” When talking through a change of course, put it in perspective – what you were doing and why you changed careers. That will help paint the picture and help the recruiter represent you in the best possible way.

Finally, another question for Jo. How open are employers to flexible working, particularly for non-specialist roles [ie where there may be a lot of other candidates who are happy not to work flexibly]?

JG: Generally, most of our clients are open to flexible hours of some kind, but they don’t necessarily promote this when advertising or on their job descriptions. At WMRecruit, we always ask how flexible the role is when taking the job briefing. It’s best to have that upfront conversation so everyone is clear from the get go.

We hope you found that article helpful and good luck in your job hunt!

*Emma Alkirwi is the Managing Director of which is the leading service provider of professionally written CVs, LinkedIn Profiles, cover letters in the UK and they also provide specialist consultancy services.  Emma has over 10 years experience in recruitment and employment related services covering a wealth of industries. Having been a professional employment consultant for several years, she has provided professional advice covering everything from professional CV/LinkedIn writing, effective job searching, interview skills and preparation, presentation techniques, and general professional coaching.

**For more information, please contact us on 0208 432 6094 or email [email protected].


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