Updated: Jul 20
Recruitment agencies can be a great starting point for anyone who is looking for work quickly. They are continually looking for people to fill a variety of temporary and permanent job roles. The main function of a recruitment agency is to fill a vacancy on behalf of a company (private or public sector).
A recruitment consultant works on assigned targets or caseloads within certain professional sector or employers. They usually received bonuses for reaching their targets. With this in mind, it often means that they can be very keen to find you one of their available positions. You may at times feel pushed into accepting a job but just be firm and let the recruitment consultant know where you stand.
The recruitment agency will:
1. Look at their current database to fill this potion
2. Post a job online to source candidates with the correct skills set
To register with a recruitment agency, you will have to make an appointment at their office. The Recruitment Consultant will ask you to bring in certain documents like -qualifications, references, passport, up to date CV and your bank details.
At this appointment they will discuss your career background, the areas that you would like to seek employment in, they will tell you about some of the vacancies that they have available and they will also ask you to read and sign some of their registration forms.
Once you are fully registered they will put your details on their database.
Even though you are on their database- it is still important to check their website or where they advertise every weekly. Most Recruitment Consultants tend to only respond to positions that have been applied for rather than search for individual applicants on their database. Recruitment agencies in Northern Ireland tned to advertise on NIJobfinder.co.uk NIJobs.com and Jobcentreonlince.com
So why do companies use them?
Trying to find suitable candidates for job vacancies can be a tricky process, especially if a specific job requires a mix of specialist skills. For busy companies, the meticulous search and selection of candidates can exhaust a lot of time and resources and Smaller companies may not have a dedicated HR Officer for their recruitment processes. Therefore, a lot of companies will hire recruitment agencies to do the job for them. This saves a lot of time and hassle for the company and allows them to focus their time on other things.
The law and recruitment agencies
All recruitment agencies must comply with the Employment Agencies Act 1973 and the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003.
Recruitment Agencies cannot charge job seekers for finding work – they can charge for extra services such as CV writing, cover letter writing, career advice, interview preparation.
A written contract must be given to agency workers – this must include the terms of your employment and include things like pay, notice period, holiday entitlement, responsibilities and length of the contract.
Pay for the agency worker cannot be withheld – even if the employer is unhappy with the performance of the agency worker. The dispute will lye between the employer and the recruitment agency.
Candidates must be checked for their suitability – this is a legal requirement. Generally, most recruitment agencies will check that candidates have the correct credentials at the registration appointment or before the candidate start the contract.
From the outset, it must be made clear in the job advertisement that a recruitment agency is recruiting for the post.
Agency Worker Regulations (AWR) - AWR applies to temporary agency workers and is designed to restrict discrimination in the workplace. These regulations ensure that temp workers are afforded the same pay, holiday and working conditions as permanent staff – although workers often have to work 12 weeks before receiving full rights.
The Equality Act 2010 also applies to recruitment. Employers and recruiters aren’t able to display any form of discrimination when it comes to hiring staff. Protected characteristics include age, sex, race, religion and marital status.
GDPR regulations - GDPR means that candidates have to give consent for data to be collected. Recruitment Agents will need to ask your permission before they can forward on your personal information and CV to other employers.
The Data Protection Act. In particular, a recruitment agency has to be careful about how it manages employer and candidate data
The advantages of using a recruitment agency?
They are able to identify your skills quickly to incoming job roles.
An excellent way to get your foot through the door, particularly with a large employer.
Advertise roles very quickly and tend to be very prompt with the recruitment process.
They can negotiate terms and salaries on your behalf
They tend to be less judgmental when they interview candidates.
They can offer a variety of job roles on different lengths of contracts
They tend to pay you weekly rather than monthly
They work with a range of employers so they can offer industry insights.
Most applications are CV based
Specialist Recruitment Agencies in your field will recognize and understand your expertise
They can give you objective feedback on your application and how to promote yourself
The disadvantage of using a recruitment agency
Agencies act on behalf of the employer, not the job seeker.
Tend not to offer career advice
They may not get in touch with you as positions become available positions .
Contracts vary and they can be terminated at any point, so there can be a lack of job security
For the first 12 weeks’ pay and basic terms and conditions will generally be lower compared to someone that is employed by the company you are temping at.
It’s also worth remembering that recruitment agencies are not careers advice centres, and are usually not qualified to help you with career decisions. However they will have extensive knowledge of local sectors and string connection to different employers.
Some consultants will have no hesitation in trying to talk you into a job that you feel is unsuitable.
Points to Remember
Remember that Recruitment Agencies are not paid by you, they are paid by their client, the employer, so may have a different agenda to you
Don’t register with too many Recruitment Agencies – be selective. Choose those that either specialist in your Role or the Industry you are interested in
Before contacting any recruitment agency, you’ll need to conduct some research to identify those that best meet your needs and career aspirations. There are lots of different types – generalist, niche as well as some focused specifically on the graduate market, so think about what will work best for you.
Ensure all communication with them is professional and build a good rapport with the Recruitment Consultant
Always check that the Recruitment Agency is a member of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the only professional body dedicated to representing the whole of the recruitment industry.
Be open-minded when considering roles they suggest, but avoid letting them talk you into something you’re not interested in.
Remember it’s illegal for recruitment agencies to charge you for helping find you a job – they are paid by their client, the hiring company.
What do you need to register with a recruitment agency?
An up to date Passport
Visa (if you are not the UK or EU citizen)
A driving license – (if there is a driving element in the temporary role)
National Insurance Number (some may ask to see a NI card or previous payslip)
Bank account details
Relevant licenses (e.g. for operating specific equipment, working in certain sectors like security or construction)
From my own experience, it was a recruitment agency that got me back into the workplace after a 2.5-year break. So I have a fairly positive outlook with them. I have been gainfully employed ever since. In my day job, for the lat 2 years, I have been on a term time contract, so I also temp over the summer months and it has been the local recruitment agencies that have helped me find temporary work over the summer months.
Recruitment agencies can be an excellent way to find a temporary position, especially if you are new to the job market. They have the advantage that they work with local employers and have excellent knowledge of what is happening in different vocation sector s and with local employers.
However, many of their positions are temporary and there I no guarantee that you will be successful re-employed after your contract is up. I would recommend that you do your research and find out about other candidates have said about them. Often reviews can be found online or on the Glassdoor / Indeed websites.
So if you find yourself wanting to use a recruitment agency, please consider these facts.
Good luck on you job search!
List of Recruitment Agencies in Northern Ireland
For those people living in Northern Ireland – Belfast areas: I have a list of about 40 recruitment agencies (including their contact details and the sectors that they operate in).
To get a copy of this please send me an email stating ‘list of recruitment agencies’ in the subject bar (just so I know what you are looking for). Please email at: email@example.com
The services that I can help you with:
For ten years I have worked as an Employment Coach and I can offer services on a range of employability matters such as CV and cover letter writing, help with filling in application forms, improving interview performance, elevator pitch, personal presentation, job hunting strategies and soft skills training (skills you need in the workplace - team work, communication, time management).
I also manage a Facebook job hunting group called Job Hunting DCS
Open to all who are looking for work in the Larne, Carrickfergus, Belfast, Lisburn and Bangor areas (Northern Ireland).