What do Edward Snowden and a temporary employee have in common? Neither really wants to be part of an agency. Okay. Okay. To be fair that sounded better after my second beer. But the point is that many job seekers seem to dislike the idea of working through a temporary agency. After all how many of us have gotten those generic emails from agency recruiters that reference key words that in no way relate to our actual profession? Recruiting hardly seems like rocket science and more just a numbers game.
And if I am an honest about my profession, agency recruiters can rank somewhere between a politician and a car salesman. So again if you’re looking for work, I get why you would want to go your own way.
However that is not using all the tools at your disposal. The temporary staffing industry generated over $115 billion in sales in 2012. And of that figure slightly over 12 billion was in placement fees for regular full-time positions according to the American Staffing Association.
Whoa 12 billion, that’s right, billion with a B! So somewhere, quite a few job seekers are taking advantage of working through an agency to find that next full-time role. The real question is how you leverage that tool in your job hunt?
First you need to understand your target job. Start big and work small. Do you know the industry you want? Where are these industries located? Are you likely to have to move? How about the companies in that specific industry? And finally what role interests you?
After you check that box, you need to determine how the company hires? Some companies have a culture where they like to “try before they buy”. So as a standard hiring practice, they bring folks in as temporaries first.
Even if they don’t hire in that way, companies can still utilize staffing agencies. For example as an internal recruiter, I may reach out to an agency recruiter if the position is particularly hard to fill.
And while I think you should always network your way in to a company, there are going to be times when you just plain don’t know anyone there. It is times like those that an agency can be invaluable.
Being presented by an agency can help make your candidacy stand out. The power of that personal connection is really why you want to go through an agency.
It is easy to say no to a resume. And a cover letter is pretty easy to ignore. But when you have an agency recruiter that can effectively present you that is a real competitive advantage.
When you select an agency, you need to find out whether they have relationships with hiring managers or human resources.
While going through HR is not bad, it means the burden of selling is still on your resume. You are relying on that HR person, maybe they’re a recruiter, or maybe they’re not, to have the experience to decode your resume and present you to the hiring manager. That can be a roll of the dice.
Besides learning who that agency recruiter will present your resume to, learn a little bit about their background. Do some preliminary research on LinkedIn. You can Google them as well. The idea here is to understand their experience.
Very often the more experienced that recruiter is the more likely they will have relationships with hiring managers. While a rookie recruiter can still be helpful, temper your expectations accordingly.
The other key thing to remember is that the job of the agency recruiter is not to get you a job. Okay, I can almost imagine the double take here. You’re thinking did this guy have more than two beers? I did not. I am as sober as a saint. In any event, the job of the agency recruiter is to make a placement.
How is that different you ask?
For starters, think of the recruiter as your guide through the hiring process. He or she can help you stay on track. Show you to navigate the complex steps of the interview. Coach you even on how to portray yourself successfully. But no matter how good the recruiter is, you have to be the one to demonstrate why you should be hired. That comes down to being engaged and fully committed to looking for that next opportunity.
I share that to say this: all too often the burden of the job search is put on the recruiter. As the job seeker, it is up to you to own the process. Identify what you want. Learn how a company hires. Interview and select those agencies that can be useful avenues to get you in front of your target companies.
The last thing to think about if you should decide to utilize staffing agencies in your job search is that you are representing them to their clients. Their professional credibility is on the line when you walk in the door.
Recruiters have long memories and frankly we network better than the NSA. If you’re a candidate that is willing to work with us, and understands what we can and cannot do, then using a staffing agency on your job hunt can be a quick way to find that next position.