Most employers have a good grasp of the benefits of using a professional recruitment agency and by and large know what they can expect in terms of services and added-value. For individual job-seekers, particularly those entering the formal job market for the first time it is not quite as cut and dried.
Firstly, according to Lindi Dickinson, placements manager at Softline Pastel (part of the Softline and Sage Group plc), job-seekers approaching an agency to help them find a position should look for an agency that specialises in the particular commercial niche or industrial sector that their education and qualifications are best suited to.
“It is the bigger agencies with five or six sub-agencies that have the infrastructure to specialise in specific career niches,” says Dickinson. “For the job seeker, going to one agency that specialises in their field of qualification can save time, streamline and shorten the whole process.”
Where Matric school-leavers with limited skills and experience are concerned, Dickinson says it often pays to dress up smartly and go knocking on doors. “This takes courage, strong personality and determination, all of which are qualities that many employers value,” says Dickinson. “Those that do this and leave their CVs behind often get a call to come back for a formal interview.”
Benefits for job seekers going through agencies include improved chances of finding the right type of working environment and culture fit as well as the right remuneration because agencies are invariably skilled at discussing such issues with prospective employers and are aware of market-related salaries and perks in specific fields.
Individuals can also expect to receive guidelines and tips from agencies, assistance in preparing for interviews, pre-interview background briefings and advice on dress codes and demeanour.
“Using an agency also gives candidates more exposure to companies,” says Dickinson. “Today many companies also use certified recruiters to send candidates to them, which broadens the expertise base available and, in the case of a national company, allows interviews to be done in all main centres of the country.”
Making use of agencies is normally beneficial for companies, whose input is limited to giving the agency a briefing on the position to be filled and any pre-requisites or non-negotiable elements.
Dickinson says one of the benefits for companies using agencies is that they, as the potential employer, can remain anonymous in the public advertising of the position and their recruiting activity is concealed from opposition companies.
Today’s agencies are flexible in their service offerings and will allow the employing company to define what elements of the overall recruiting services are required.
“It may be that the employer wants to be involved in applicant pre-screening and in the final interviewing and this can be beneficial both ways,” says Dickinson. “The employing company gets the right employee and the agency, in going through this process gets to evaluate other serious candidates that could be placed elsewhere within their client base.”