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A common question of job seekers - what is the optimum number of placement companies to use for the employment search? Placement companies (or head-hunters, recruiters, job agencies…) can absolutely play a positive part in your job search. Employers contract with such companies to assist them in the recruitment process, paying them a fee for each successful new employee they bring.
From the perspective of the job seeker, having access to placement companies is positive, since there is no cost and it gives you opportunities for jobs that you would not otherwise have. In addition, employees at placement companies usually have direct and personal access to HR people at the employers, and can thus increase the likelihood of building visibility and receiving status updates – something virtually impossible for individual job seekers to accomplish.
Yet many job seekers that are in contact with me do not feel much value from recruitment companies, instead complaining about the lack of personal contact and success they encounter when attempting to develop a relationship with these companies.
I would like to try and shed some light on this process, to make it easier for the job seeker to understand what part these companies can play in their individual job search.
First, I worded the title of this article in such a way to make the following point. Nobody and no company will find you a job. Only you can find yourself a job!!! Certainly other people, websites, services, agencies can and should play a part in your search when advantageous to you, but you as the job seeker can never hand over the responsibility of your search to anyone else, including a placement company.
The most critical thing to keep in mind when approaching job agencies is that their customer is the employer, not you the job seeker. The job seeker is a resource, a person that can be submitted to employers to fill a position, which if ultimately successful will lead to the generation of a placement fee. What this compensation structure generally leads to for the job seeker is a great difficulty in getting attention from these companies unless there is a current role to be filled that they think you are appropriate for. To be fair, the job seeker needs to keep in mind that agencies can receive hundreds of CVs a day, and it is not practical/possible for them to follow-up on each and every one. The CVs will go into their central database and be available and future job opportunities arise. You as the job seeker may be able to increase the chances of receiving favorable service by maintaining regular contact.
I should add a comment here. The above paragraph is overly simplistic and general. There are a range of different companies that offer placement services, and not all of them are the same. What I have included above is typically true of the bigger ones, and not always true of the smaller ones. There are cases where small agencies and head-hunters, oftentimes “one man (or woman) shows”, will invest time in getting to know the job seeker. In my experience though in Israel, these companies are few and far between.
So, if we go back to the original question, how many placement companies should a job seeker work with, you will usually find the answers that people provide tend to fall into one of three categories:
None – Job seekers that have bad experiences with these companies tend to stop using them. I think this is a mistake. These companies absolutely do succeed in placing new employees; this should be evident by the fact that they continue to operate almost entirely based upon success fees. Getting your CV into their databases is a good idea, as you may be a match for current and/or future job openings that come their way, opportunities that you would not have access to without the placement company. Not all agencies are the same, and it can be worthwhile to search and find those that are most appropriate for you (small or large, specialized in a particular sector or general…)
A Small Number (1-3) – This is the general response that you get from agencies themselves. Essentially, they seem to view themselves differently than I do. I have heard many of these companies say that you only need to work with them, as they are the best :>) Sometimes the argument goes that recruiters won’t invest a lot of time with you the job candidate if they know you are working with other agencies as well. Since in my experience they won’t invest much time with you in any case unless they have an appropriate role for you, I don’t find this reasoning convincing. The other argument you will hear from them is that if you are working with multiple agencies, it means you may be submitted to the same employer multiple times, which is not good for you the job seeker. At Israemploy I have been working as a recruiter for a number of months, and what I can tell you is that this is a problem for job agencies, not job seekers. What I mean is that when I submit a candidate for a job, if they are already known to the employer (either because they applied directly or they were previously submitted by another recruiter), then I don’t get credit for this candidate. However, the candidate continues in the recruitment process without any negative impact to them. So again, the logic of these responses tends to value much more the job agency’s interests than the job seekers. Unless you are working with a company that you are certain is providing you with personalized and high quality service, and requests that you work with them exclusively, I would be very wary of following such advice.
A Large Number – Maximize the number of opportunities that you have access to. Personally, I see no negatives from taking this approach. As time goes on, you will almost certainly find that some of them, usually a very small number, provide the best results, and these are the ones that you will naturally focus on most. However, since it is difficult to understand which companies will end up being the best as you begin the process, introducing yourself to as many as possible is oftentimes a good starting point.
Job agencies can be your eyes and ears in getting to employment opportunities that you don’t reach on your own. Use them wisely, and more interviews can be the result.
Contributed by Ron Machol - Feb 2011
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