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Working With an Employment Agency - What to Expect
by Laura Whitelaw

There are many benefits to working with an employment agency. It is a good strategy for tapping into the hidden job market and because they are bound by confidentiality, you can register with them and be assured that information about your search for employment will not get back to your current employer. Also, if you are in a full-time job, you can leverage some of your job search time by using an agency. Further, there are many companies that rely solely on using employment agencies in their candidate searches and so if you register with a few of them, you will get access to some employers that you may not otherwise come across through other means of job searching. The agency can also negotiate your salary on your behalf which provides a big relief for many folks who are uneasy about salary negotiations. They can also provide you with some insight into what it's like to work for that company which is information that you might not be able to garner from simply checking out their website.

There are lots of benefits to working with employment agencies but you should not limit yourself to just this one strategy. Often job seekers have the mistaken belief that all they need to do when looking for a job is register with a couple of agencies and then wait for the job offers to come in. In certain fields, this may be true but for the most part, registering with agencies is only part of an overall job search strategy. If you rely solely on this one strategy, you could be waiting a very long time before you get any phone calls. Most employment agencies make their money from their corporate clients. Often they will work with the company on a contingency basis and negotiate a certain percentage of the salary upfront as the agreed upon price for finding and placing a candidate with the employer. If they don't find a candidate for them, then they don't get paid. So, the employment agent is really working for the company rather than the candidate. If the agent does not have any current openings that you are qualified for, don't expect them to go around hunting for the perfect job for you. Companies that work with agencies will usually only interview candidates that are a really close match to what they are looking for because of the fees associated with using an agency.

You should spend some time researching employment agencies before registering with them. Most of them specialize in placing certain types of candidates and so you will want to register with a few that can potentially be helpful to you. It won't do you any good to register with an executive search firm if you are a nurse. You can do your research by checking out the various employment websites such as Monster or Careerbuilder where many agencies post their openings. There, you can see the types of jobs they fill as well as click on the link to their website to get a brief overview of their areas of expertise in the job placement market.

Every agency is different in that they employ different processes for screening applicants. Some will want you to come in for a face to face meeting and to complete some formalized testing and some will only want to interview you over the phone. Whatever the case, make sure that you treat it like any other interview. Although interviewing with an agency is often a more relaxed than interviewing with an employer, you should make sure that you are dressed appropriately and conduct yourself in a professional manner. If the agent is turned off, then even if you have the qualifications, they will be reluctant to send you to their client where the potential exists for damaging their relationship with that client.

Working with an agency is a component of a good overall job search strategy. When you know what to expect, you can be that much more effective in landing the job that you're dreaming of. Do your research on the agencies in your town or city, pick a short list of 3 or 4 to register with and remember to treat your employment agent in a way you would any other prospective employer.

Laura Whitelaw is the founder of Best Choice 4 Resumes. Her background includes several years working in the employment services field as well as some time working in corporate training and development. Sign up for Laura's newsletter and receive a free report, "Top 10 Interview Q & A's To Help You Ace That Job Interview", visit Laura Whitelaw may be contacted at



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