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Thursday, 10 December 2009

Why recuritment agencies aren't always the best way

Written by Miles Cooper
Even though a recruitment agency takes a cut on your salary or hourly rate they are not working in your best interest - instead they are doing the employer's bidding. This is exacerbated by the fact that few employers will grant an agency exclusivity to field candidates for a given position.

Agencies like to play it safe and build their reputation in front of their clients. That means they will go for the no-risk candidate who has already been in a similar role for years. The person who is the perfect mule who will not get bored doing it again twice as long. Too much passion and lateral thinking from an agency's point of view are risk factors.

Agencies have a predilection for a chronological resume that exposes you bare with gaps and changes of direction in your career. They store candidates' resumes on their database and check several revisions you submit for inconsistencies. That way they can screen out people who are fudging things. The chronological resume allows agencies to calculate your average tenure in a job and screen out applicants classed as high risk.

On the other hand the perfect fit for a given position will be a functional CV matching every requirement of the job with your own skills listed by order of relevance - not chronological order. With an agency that is not an option because they claim they are prevented by law to alter your CV. They already do that anyway by masking your contact details so that their client can't bypass them and call you directly. Sadly that shows the level of trust or lack thereof.

Agencies like you to go for a blind date - not disclosing the employer's name until you are booked for an interview. This has some severe drawbacks. You might be applying for a role to be filled at your current employer and through the agency indiscretion your boss will find out if you have itchy feet. You might wonder if in the future we could turn the tables around and apply for jobs with a dummy name - only revealing our real identity when we land the job and have to disclose our personal details.

Agencies like the bait and switch approach. They will parade you in front of their client as an articulate, well mannered candidate but also have other alternatives waiting in line.

There is hope though if you take the matter in your own hands and target one specific job that you like - one at a time. There are still employers out there who dare to advertise roles in their company name. It sounds that this boldness alone makes them people worth working for. In order to give yourself the best possible chance you will have to analyse closely their requirements and craft a functional version of your CV to suit.

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