How Much Job Search Advice should Recruitment Agencies give?

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012 - Agency Work, career change, career coaching, career transition, Find a Job, recruiters, Recruitment Process


How Much Job Search Advice should Recruitment Agencies give?


Its an age old question for recruitment agencies, but How Much Job Search Advice should Recruitment Agencies give job seekers?

It’s an even more pertinent question in these times of high unemployment, when simply job applicants out number the number of available jobs.

But already we are seeing a return to the “War for Talent”, where in some sectors skills are short and employers are willing to hire competent candidates.

The Recruiters dilemma

What most job seekers do not realise, is that recruiters are in a constant dilema:

  • Time is money: Most contract recruiters don’t get paid a basic, and if they do its pretty low, so most don’t earn unless they make placements
  • People are our product: no new fresh job seekers coming in through the door, then you are wholly reliant on the jobs boards. That doesn’t make you look much different than your competitors. So it is in our interests to both develop people relationships, and coach job seekers into jobs

But, if offered two candidates, one of whom could do the whole job application now and the other would require one hour of coaching and a CV rewrite, which one do you think that the “time hungry/paid by results” recruiter would take?

Recruiters Eat Red Meat

Simply, be they a recruiter, headhuter or HR Professional, if you have one job to fulfil, you only need one great job applicant.

Experience says that you need to place more people into the job application process than one, as experience shows that human chemistry means that although you may think candidateA is better, the Hiring Manager may prefer candidiateB.

It is why when we are advising job seekers, one of the things that we tell them is that recruiters eat red meat. Before letting that recruiter have your Professional CV – the basic currency of the employment world – check where they are in the hiring cycle, and hence how much of a need they have for your CV?

  • Early in the cycle, a new placement with a first time client, your are speaking to the resourcer/assistant, and remote form the hiring manager; are all signs of NO, withold your CV and don’t let it die on their candidate database
  • Late in the hiring cycle, an existing employer client, you are speaking to the recruiter handling that hiring manager (and who is giving you tips on how to adjust your CV); are all signs of YES, they are going to put your forward for that job

“Recruiters used to call me”

One of the things that we constantly hear from job seekers across both sides of our business, is that: “Recruiters used to call me.”

Pre-2008 and the world wide recession, there was a shortage of skilled employees in many markets. Employers were desperate, wages rose regularly, and skills were in demand. To fulfil these roles, recruiters needed a contact address book or database full of skilled people, who they would stay in touch with. Commercially, this was worth their time:
Demand for skills were high
Contract recruitment rates paid well
You could make a lot by making a few placements
Your base product was skilled candidates
In the current economy, the situation has reversed. Recruiters have more than enough skilled, wanting employment job seekers who can commuicate why they want that job. They simply don’t need to pick up the phone and keep in contact.

Remember, recruiters eat red meat. If they are calling you, then they want your skills.

Best approaches for Recruitment Agencies to job seekers

My personal view on best recruitment agency approaches to job seekers, is much as though it should be part of the task of each individual to keep in contact with key potential job seekers, it is the business owner or directors job to define the strategy and tactics for handling all job seeker approaches to their agency.

Most of the best advice to contract recruitment agencies these days is inline with what the best and the biggest employers do: have an “About Us” page and a specific “How to apply for a Job” section. Within this, you can provide job search advice, CV Writing guides, and generally both coach and set expectations for new job seekers as to what to expect, and how you can help them.

In our case, by setting up a Professional CV Writing Service, we went one step further: why?

CV Writing v Job Serach Advice

Firstly, what fascinated me about the market of employment, and specifically recruitment, was how badly we treated job seekers. That has been changing in the past few years, with more and more agecies now becoming members of the UK professional body, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

Secondly, as an ex-operational manager I recognised the job seekers dilema. Simply, most are not used to job seeking! They needed help.

But we couldn’t cope with all of them, and we couldn’t help all of them. Like every other recruiter, we are facing the recruiters dilemma. So for those that were outside our core markets (IT, Telecom, Project Management), we can offer them help. For those sat inside our core market, we had an instant in-house resource to make our candidiates look better (on paper), than our competitors.

As a side benefit, we get some great market insight. Firstly into what job seekers actually feel about job seeking (honest, its very different to what they tell us when applying for a job!). Secondly, into what the general employment market is looking like.

Recruiters are not Job Centre+

In closing this article, I’d like to be positive, and extend our agencies attitude to job seekers over the whole empoyment market. But simply, for commercial reasons and changes in market supply and demand, that will never fully happen.

Any job seeking advice from a contract recuitment agency will always have to be commercially driven, and hence taken from a marketing stance that in the end delivers key skilled candidates into that agency.

Simply, contract recruitment agencies will never and can never take the position of Job Centre+, much as though many current job seekers who undertook a job search pre the recession may have thought that they were.

But that is no excuse ot to give what is both our end product and most precious resource the cold shoulder. We should as an industry help our key partners in earning our income, and that our customers want to buy.

Good Luck!

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One Response to “How Much Job Search Advice should Recruitment Agencies give?”

  1. Kristin Callegari Says:

    As a US based former contract recruiter, now working as an internal recruiter, I agree that most agencies need to give job seekers more help. We can not just leave them out there. Regards, Kristin

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