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5 Steps to get the most out of your recruitment agencies

Talking with recruitment agencies

Connecting with recruitment agencies should be one of your first moves when beginning any job search. A recruiter is always looking for great people and often have insight into employment and job market trends. They can leverage existing relationships with clients to your benefit and be an indispensable resource in your job search.

Whether you are new to engaging with recruitment agencies or been working with them for years, we have a few recommendations on how to get the most out of your relationship.

1. Put your contact details on LinkedIn

You’re a Rockstar. You’ve let the LinkedIn world know you are open to opportunities. Recruitment agencies have found you and are impressed by your exceptionally marketable skills. They can’t wait to talk to you about a great role they have available.

Dilemma: You never put a telephone number or email address in your LinkedIn contact details. Oh… and you haven’t checked any of your LinkedIn messages for weeks.

Resolution: Very simply, put your contact numbers and email address on your LinkedIn profile (and your resume while you’re at it) and check your LinkedIn messages once a day, minimum.

Recruitment agencies are aware that people work in communal spaces. They would never want to put you in an awkward position of talking about your job search with your cubical mate listening in. Recruitment agencies will often email or InMail you to avoid this.

Getting back to them as quickly as possible will get your job search moving.


2. Make sure your voicemails are understandable

You received some calls back from recruitment agencies or HR coordinators. It’s the call you have been waiting for! You get on the phone straight away but get voicemail. You leave a quick message and wait to hear back.

Dilemma: Your voicemail was said at warp speed with hardly any details. It sounded like this “Hi Bob, call me on 403-8x$g-%f*a”.

Resolution: Slow down. Take a breath. You may have planned out exactly what you want to say when you return calls from recruitment agencies, but you probably haven’t even thought about the fact that they may not pick up!

So, what do you say in your voicemail message?

  • Your full name or, more specifically, your name as it appears on your resume/LinkedIn profile.
  • Best contact number for you. Slowly. With pauses between numbers. This way. They can. Write it down.
  • Mention why you are calling. Don’t assume you are the only person named John they reached out to. Reiterate what they mentioned in their voicemail, so they know precisely why you are calling. Let them know that you are returning their call about ‘the Operations Manager role at Site XYZ.’
  • Provide a few good times that they can reach you. Or if an email is better, let them know your email address. Slowly. Enunciate the letters, so they know you spelt Frank and not Blank (F-for-Foxtrot).
  • Finally, repeat your name and number. Slowly.

Here are some more tips on leaving courteous and business-like voicemails that will get returned.


3. Come to your interview prepared

You have contacted recruitment agencies on roles you applied for. A job interview is scheduled for you to meet each other.

Dilemma: You showed up to the interview in your gym clothes, didn’t remember who your meeting with (even though they emailed you a confirmation), can’t remember the role you applied for, or what the company you are at even does. Also, you were very vague about what you were looking for in your next role.

Resolution: Maybe you did none of the things above – they are extreme examples. But maybe you did one of them. How can you be better prepared before meeting consultants at recruitment agencies?

Dress as you would for any professional interview

Consultants often hear “I will dress better for a real interview, this one doesn’t really count”. This is a blatant disregard for the job recruitment agencies do, and for their consultant’s time. Additionally, it casts doubt on whether you will, in fact, dress appropriately for their client.

As for what to wear? Err on the side of caution and, to quote Barney Stinson, “Suit up!”

When you get a recruitment agencies call about a role – grab a pen and paper to take down all the details

Ask for that person’s name and the company they are calling from. If you applied for a couple of roles they had posted, ask which position they are referring to. If you call them, take a moment to Google the company and find out what they do. This way, you can be fully prepared when you go for the interview.

You shouldn’t be wasting your time interviewing for roles, or with companies, you have no interest in.

Make sure they have an excellent idea of your expertise and skills

But it is equally important to make sure they have a clear understanding of what you are looking for in your career and your next position. If you are vague, recruitment agencies won’t know what roles you are even interested in.

It is fair to have a couple of directions you are looking in, but “Oh, you know, I’m open to anything” doesn’t help refine your search.

Be honest about salary and location, types of industry, specific job titles, and even management styles and culture

It’s also helpful to have an idea of organisations you want to work for to create a strong picture of your ideal work environment. As you give your recruitment agencies this information, they will begin to assess which of their clients may be the best match for you.

The clearer a picture you paint, the more roles you will be called about that you are genuinely interested in.


4. Follow-up in a professional manner

You registered with several recruitment agencies. You had great conversation with their consultants around your career objective and what you are looking for in your next move. They called you about a role their client is thinking about hiring for. Nothing is confirmed yet, but they will get back to you as soon as they hear anything. Now what?

Dilemma: You have either a) been calling you recruitment agencies every 2 hours to get an update; or b) haven’t heard anything back in 2 weeks (or even longer, in some scenarios). Both situations are common, and neither is ideal.

Resolution: Situation ‘A’ makes you look and sound a bit obsessed and desperate. Recruitment agencies understand that your situation may be dire. However, you still need to think of the image you are putting across.

The image you project to your recruitment agencies is how they think you will behave in any job interviews with their clients. Be the professional you are. This is not to say you shouldn’t call. But when you do, ask when they will have more information and follow up if you haven’t heard back. The answer will absolutely be ‘Yes’.

And often the consultants will be impressed that you’ve taken on that responsibility.

Situation ‘B’ leaves you feeling like you have wasted your time and maybe even like your recruitment agencies gave you the ‘run around’. But have you done your due diligence and followed up with them?

At the end of the interview, ask what the timeline looks like. When is the client doing interviews? When are they looking to hire? The last time the client used the agency, did they take their time or were they in a rush to move the process forward?

You don’t want to be left in the dark for an undefined time. Asking these types of questions allows you to be aware of when steps are happening. This way, you can make informed follow up calls on where everything is at in the timeline.

You will also have a better idea of what to expect throughout the process. Don’t be afraid to follow up.

5. Understand that recruitment agencies are just one tool in your toolbox

You have registered with one agency. You are now waiting for your consultant to call you about your dream job.

Dilemma: The agency you registered with has indeed called you about different roles, but you haven’t been interested in any of them. It has been a couple of weeks now since you last heard from your consultant on potential roles, and you’re worried that you will not be able to find a job.

Resolution: Don’t rely on one agency as your only option. No recruitment agencies will ever hold you back from registering somewhere else in your job search. If they do, have a conversation with them about why, because that is not standard practice.

Register with all the recruitment agencies you feel best to represent you in your field; use discretion. Follow up with your consultants weekly to see if they have any new roles. Keep applying on your own to positions you find on job boards, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Ads.

Recruitment agencies are but one tool in your tool-box and can offer different services. Make use all of them to find your next role.

Searching for a new job is hard work and can be discouraging at times. Finding the right recruitment agencies can take time. But once you find someone that clearly understands the value you can bring to their clients, it will increase your odds of landing your next role.

Get your recruitment agencies working for you!

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