How to get the best out of your recruitment agency

Emily Haddow, Associate Director, Page Personnel Finance, explains how candidates can significantly increase their chances in the job market by getting the most from their recruitment agencies.
Entering into a search for a new role can potentially be a relatively daunting experience, especially if you have limited experience of dealing with recruitment agencies. There are times when recruitment agencies are given bad press by candidates but in actual fact, used in the right way, recruitment agencies can have a significantly positive impact on your career and in securing the right role.
Having been in the industry for many years, and having some personal experience of dealing with agencies as a candidate, I am keen to demonstrate the best way to work with a professional agency to ensure you maximise their market knowledge, benefit from their connections and ultimately work in harmony with your agency to achieve your career goals.
Here are the top tips to get the best out of your recruitment agency.

1. Take the time to meet your consultant in person

Reputable consultants will be very keen to meet with candidates upon registering their job search. One of the biggest mistakes made by job seekers is to turndown this opportunity due to lack of time but consultants are typically prepared to be flexible and meet with candidates outside of working hours. Due to current market conditions agencies can find themselves working with large volumes of candidates on the database, and in a very competitive job market, it’s your opportunity to differentiate yourself from the crowd. By doing this, you are significantly improving your chances of securing a role via this agency so take the interview seriously, present yourself in a professional matter, arrive on time and bring all the required documents.

2. Build a relationship with your consultant and consider their advice

You should view this as entering into a partnership. Reputable agencies will have extensive knowledge of their markets often working with the business on a regular basis over a long period of time. This enables them to offer significant insight into the business culture, people you are interviewing with, testing procedures, and interview formats etc. They will be able to offer valuable information to assist in your interview preparation, giving you a competitive advantage over other candidates.

3. Be reliable/trustworthy

Entering into an honest relationship is critical to a successful partnership. If consultants are fully aware of your situation, they can advise and guide on the best approach to your job search but any misleading information will most certainly be uncovered. Consultants are trained to probe into situations to ascertain the true picture and if candidates are found to be dishonest, this can seriously damage their credibility with the agency. Be as reliable as possible. If a consultant has confirmed an interview for you, make sure you attend and if you are unable to, it is vital you inform your agency in adequate time. 
The worst thing you can do is to simply not show up and not inform your agency. That would be hugely damaging to the consultants reputation with their client and consequently, would be hugely damaging to your relationship with the agency. If a role is really not right for you, don’t be afraid to say “No”. This is much better than agreeing to an appointment you have no intention of attending. Under these circumstances, a consultant may probe as to why the role is not right but don’t be nervous of this conversation, they are simply trying to get a fuller understanding of your requirements to assist more effectively in the long run.

4. Be proactive with your communication levels 

One of the biggest complaints recruitment agencies receive from candidates is based on the lack of feedback. Candidates must take responsibility for their own career search by being proactive. For example, returning calls from your consultant at your first available opportunity because sometimes the roles worked are very time critical, you do not want to miss out on an opportunity as you have not returned a call for a few days. Don’t be afraid to chase your consultant for updates/feedback – this will be viewed in a positive light as it demonstrates to your consultant that you are committed to your job search. 


5. Be realistic to market conditions and be as flexible as possible with your job search

Everyone has the “perfect role” they are aiming for and recruitment consultants will of course aim to secure you everything on your tick list. But just like buying a new house, you may need to show some flexibility or compromise on your requirements, especially if your job search is urgent.  


Always keep in mind that it is in the consultants’ interests to support you as effectively as possible with your job search but, they cannot do this alone. To do their job effectively they need maximum participation from their candidates so being mindful of the tips above, and viewing your relationship as a partnership, will give you the best opportunities in your job search.
Emily Haddow
T: +44 115 948 6400
M: +447717148795