How to find the best employment agencies and recruitment agencies in the UK and US

Employment and recruitment agencies place millions of employees in jobs every year, with the result that the jobs you see in newspaper adverts are only a small percentage of those available. It is not hard to see why employers are happy with this arrangement, for the agencies do the lion's share of work in sifting through applications and reducing possibly hundreds of candidates to an interview shortlist.

From your point of view, employment & recruitment agencies are a source of jobs not listed elsewhere, so should always be included in your job search strategy. You can effectively take advantage of their services to pursue your own career goals. Agencies can help to market you, opening doors to jobs you may not otherwise have heard of and therefore save you time.

When you contact an agency, you will need to send them a first-class CV. If your CV isn't as good as it could be, then the agency won't want to send your CV to employers, they'll prefer to send other better CVs that the employers are more likely to like.

Agencies don't have time to rewrite CVs, so make sure you spend a lot of time getting your CV right, or if you would like to significantly improve your CV, then you might want to consider CV services such as Bradley CVs.

A CV service can make a massive difference to your chances of securing job interviews, whether you are using agencies or responding directly to employers' job adverts.

What employment & recruitment agencies do

Agencies vary greatly in type and size. Some work across many different kinds of industry and sector, while others specialise in particular fields.

Job placement agencies / staffing agencies

The majority of recruitment and employment agencies work on the employer's behalf, either handling all the employers' vacancies and being paid on a retainer basis, or working on a post-by-post basis. In both instances, the recruitment and employment agencies are working on the employer's interest, not the candidates. This is important: you are not the employment & recruitment agencies' customer, but the employer is. These agencies may be generalists, or may specialise in particular industries or types of profession.

These employment & recruitment agencies obtain regular listings of job openings from prospective employers, before matching candidates' skills and qualifications to the most suitable vacancies that arise. They do this by scanning their own databases for people already 'on the books', and by advertising jobs to attract new candidates. Once applications are received, the employment agency scans them and invites the most qualified candidates for interview, or arranges for them to an interview with the employer. The employment agency also presents the candidates' applications to the employer in the most attractive way possible.

Temporary employment agencies / temporary job agencies

Temporary staffing agencies are a little different, as they have temporary staff on their own books and fulfil different employers' needs by providing short-term staff as required.

Temporary employment agencies collect the money the temps on their books earn, then pay the temps a proportion of the earnings.

This means that the temps would effectively be their employees, either being paid by the hour for the exact hours worked, or a smaller regular wage by the week.

Executive headhunters / recruiters

These are executive employment and employment agencies that may not advertise jobs at all, but will research and approach suitable individuals for exclusive, higher management positions. These agencies usually work in specialist fields.

When to use employment & recruitment agencies

If you are seeking work in a specialist or highly paid field, or are having difficulty in securing interviews, an employment agency may provide invaluable assistance. Even if you are applying for less exclusive jobs, an agency should be included in your job search strategy. In every situation, an agency may have contacts or information that you could never be aware of. They have conducted the research, so you do not have to.

If you are relocating, employment agencies can be especially helpful. National agencies have access to databases in other locations, while local agencies in your destination area can have you on their books before you move.

Sometimes, having your application put forward for a desirable job by an employment agency will earn you more credence with an employer, as they will know you have already had your application screened. You will be presented in the best light and the employment agency may help to negotiate your salary as well.

Remember that a recruitment agency will usually offer you connections to employers, but is not representing your interests ahead of the employers who pay them. However, they will have additional information about employers' requirements that you might not be able to access otherwise. They can sometimes also discuss salary levels, even if this is not included in an advert.

Temporary employment agencies can get you a temping job that can provide you with additional experience to put on your CV, while offering the flexibility that you may need when studying, etc. It can provide an income when seeking work - very often, you may find permanent work with one of the employers you are placed with. It can be a useful way to explore careers if you are thinking of switching.

Usually, it is wisest to work with just a few employment & recruitment agencies. If you sign up with a lot of recruiters, an employer with multiple agency relationships may find your CV arriving twice or thrice over. This will not look good, as you will appear indiscriminate and they won't want to pay more than one agency - so your CV may be rejected straightaway.

Do you want an outstanding CV for agencies? Our CV writing service can skilfully revitalised your CV, producing a persuasive CV that makes agencies want to promote you to employers.

Part 2: Employment Agencies: How to find suitable employment agencies in the UK, US, Canada, Australia or elsewhere.

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