What Is a Recruitment Agency? (And How to Work with One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published September 21, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you want to find a job, you may be considering using a recruitment agency. Recruitment agencies match candidates to open positions that meet their skills, knowledge, and experience. Learning more about recruitment agencies and how to work with them can help improve your chances of receiving a job offer. In this article, we answer the question, "What is a recruitment agency?", discuss how recruitment agencies work, tell you the benefits of using them, and offer steps you can follow to do so.

What is a recruitment agency?

Learning the answer to the question, "What is a recruitment agency?" can help you decide whether you want to work with one to find a job. Recruitment agencies help companies find qualified candidates by handling the hiring process for them. When applying for jobs, you can contact a recruitment agency to help you find an open position in their database that meets your requirements and qualifications. Recruitment agencies may be general, meaning they work with companies from any industry, while others may specialize in a particular field, such as IT or health care.

Related: Can a Recruiting Agency Help Me Find a Job? 10 Ways They Can

How does a recruitment agency work?

Here are the steps a recruitment agency may follow after you contact them:

  • Initial contact and screening: Once you express your interest in the recruitment agency, they may schedule a meeting with you in person or on the phone. During this meeting, they may ask you about your work experience, skills, credentials, and job interests.

  • Recruitment agency cost: Some recruitment agencies charge candidates a fee to gain access to their database. Others charge companies this fee instead, making it a free service for candidates.

  • Entry into the database: During the meeting, the recruiter may ask for your resume. They then enter your details and resume information into their database so they can send you job recommendations when they're available.

  • Discovering new roles: When a role is available that you're qualified for and may be interested in, your recruiter may contact you. They may ask if you're interested in the position so they can submit your application.

  • Applying for a role: The recruitment agency then submits your information to the hiring company. If the company is interested, they may invite you for an interview or ask the agency to hold a screening interview first.

Related: Interview Question: "How Do Staffing Agencies Work?"

What are the benefits of working with a recruitment agency?

There are plenty of benefits of working with a recruitment agency, such as:

  • Personalized advice: During the recruitment process, the recruitment agency may offer support to improve your chances of receiving a job offer. They may suggest ways you can improve your resume or offer ideas for similar jobs you can apply for that meet your requirements and credentials.

  • Interview coaching: If you gain an invitation to interview, some recruitment agencies may offer coaching to help you prepare. This may involve mock interviews, tips, or constructive feedback you can apply to your interview skills.

  • Access to tailored job updates: Recruitment agencies often have access to jobs as soon as they're posted, so you may be one of the first candidates to apply. This can improve the chance of the employer noticing your application and contacting you for an interview.

  • Greater visibility: If you work with a well-known and respected recruitment agency, employers may be more likely to contact you for an interview as they trust the recruiter's judgement.

  • Saves time: Recruitment agencies can help you save time as they look for jobs for you. If you're already working or are still in school, this is especially beneficial as you gain access to jobs without looking for them yourself.

Related: Recruiting Methods to Help Get the Best Job Candidates

How to use a recruitment agency

Here are the steps you can follow to use a recruitment agency to help you find a job:

1. Research agencies

Before contacting any agency, ensure you thoroughly research the ones available in your community. Recruitment agencies may operate nationally by offering meetings online or over the phone, while others may operate locally, so you can choose one based on your communication preferences. Agencies that specialize in a certain industry can offer tailored advice and job recommendations, so try to find one related to your area of interest. Many agencies have reviews from previous clients, so assess these to ensure you're choosing an agency with a good reputation.

Related: Headhunter vs. Recruiter (With Differences and FAQs)

2. Discuss your expectations

Once you choose an agency, you can contact them and schedule an initial meeting. Before your meeting, determine what your job expectations are, such as a specific salary or work schedule. This can help you clearly communicate these expectations so that the recruiter limits their search to jobs that meet your requirements. The recruiter may ask for your resume to assess your experience, knowledge, and skills. They may offer suggestions of ways to improve or update your resume to impress employers.

Related: What Are Employer Expectations? (With Examples and Tips)

3. Update your resume

Using the recruiter's advice, you can update your resume so they can upload it to their database and start finding jobs for you. Tailor your resume to the position you're interested in by including specific keywords employers may be looking for in a candidate. For example, if you assess a job posting, employers may mention specific skills or knowledge they want candidates to have. If you meet these requirements, including the keywords on your resume can help gain the employer's attention.

4. Stay in touch

Once the recruiter uploads your resume to the database, they may contact you with available positions you may be eligible for so you can submit your application, or they can do so on your behalf. If you don't hear from the recruiter for a certain time period, such as a week or longer, try contacting them for an update. They may just inform you that no new positions became available during that time, but staying in touch with your recruiter shows them you're eager to work. It also reminds them of your current availability and keeps you memorable so that they think of you when a new position becomes available.

Related: What Does a Recruitment Manager Do? (With Required Skills)

5. Prepare for your interview

If your resume impresses employers, they may contact you or your recruiter to invite you for an interview. Talk to your recruiter about ways you can prepare for the interview to improve your chances of getting the position. They may suggest researching potential questions the interviewer may ask and preparing your answers ahead of time. This can help you feel more confident during the interview and ensure you don't forget any details you want to discuss.

They may also offer suggestions on the appropriate clothing you can wear or documents you can bring to show employers you're professional and prepared. Ensure you arrive on time for your interview to show employers you have good time-management skills, which are essential in any position.

6. Consider the job offer

After your interview, you may receive a job offer if you impressed the employer. Some recruitment agencies may help you review and submit the paperwork, such as your job contract, that the employer wants you to complete before starting your new job. They may even talk to your employer to negotiate a better salary and benefits for you.

When you start your new job, you can advise the recruitment agency on what to do with your resume. They may keep it in the database if your new job is temporary, or they can remove it if you think it's going to be a long-term position. This may be the end of your contact with the recruitment agency, but you can always refer a friend or family member in the future if you had a positive experience. Consider writing a review online so that future candidates know the recruitment agency is reputable.

Related: Why You May Consider Working for an Agency (With FAQs)

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