How to get the best out of your recruitment agency
Recruitment agencies can be daunting and confusing, but we’re also really good at what we do – finding you jobs! We specialise in graduate internships and jobs and provide a free tool to help kick-start the careers of young people. Use it wisely and the service that recruitment agencies, like Inspiring, provide could be the stepping stone you need. With a little help from our HR Honeyz, we’ve highlighted some pointers on etiquette, communication and research, so you can get the best out of your agency.
• Be professional and communicate clearly. Remember, the agency wants to select the best possible candidates to send to their clients. First impressions are really important, and your first impression is likely to be made over the phone.
• Don’t answer the phone with ‘yeh’! If you have been contacting agencies and suddenly get a call from a number you don’t recognise – chances are it might be one of them. ‘Hello’ is a timeless classic, or you could say your name when answering.
• Stay cool, calm and collected. Listen to questions carefully and take a few seconds to think before you answer. Try to avoid launching into your life story and focus on what is relevant.
• If you miss a call and receive a voicemail, respond via phone or email as soon as you can. If you are unable to respond immediately or at certain times of the day, communicate your working hours and availability from the start. If you can’t return a phone call or email immediately or if you are going away, try and send a quick email detailing your situation and when you will be able to get back in touch.
• For future reference, it can be useful to make a note of who you spoke to and when.
• Honesty and communication are crucial. The agency isn’t there to make you feel pressurised into taking a role that you don’t feel is right for you. If they’ve sent you a potential role and you haven’t replied, they won’t know whether a candidate just isn’t interested in that particular role or they haven’t actually received the email. Feedback will always be appreciated, whether you’ve been to an interview or just discussed an opportunity. It will help your contact at the agency to narrow down their search and it works both ways – the recruiter may get feedback from a client they can share with you. This information can then be used to improve your interview technique for the future. Win, win.
• Treat the recruitment agency as you would a potential employer. You will be representing the agency when you go to interviews, so be polite and professional at all times when dealing with them – otherwise they might not feel they can put you forward at all.
• If for any reason you cannot make an interview with a company or are running late, it is imperative to communicate this to your contact at the agency. This is not just for their benefit, if you fail to turn up or are late without a genuine excuse, you may be blacklisted and they will be reluctant to send you to any further interviews! Why jeopardise your career prospects when all it takes is a message to explain why you are no longer available.
Regular email checking
• Check, double check and triple check emails, particularly if you have been told to expect a follow up email or are communicating daily with your agency (recruitment agencies work fast!)
• Take the time to read all information you are sent to avoid missing any important information. An email from an agency may include a lot of detail about what to do or where to go. It’s in your best interests to demonstrate you can act on instructions.
• If there is anything you don’t fully understand, it’s always better to ask than guess.
•You’re about to press send… but wait! Go through a quick mental checklist: have you attached the correct file? Have you remembered to attach the file at all? Have you answered the questions? These pointers may sound obvious, but it’s easy to miss something when you’re multi-tasking sending an email and making a sandwich at the same time.
• Double check spelling and grammar, ensure you’re sending the right email to the right person, and make sure you get the person’s name right! That always helps.
• Finally, a personal touch will make you more memorable. We’re not saying go in for a bear hug at the end of a meeting, but sending a brief email to your recruiter to say how nice it was to meet them will make a lasting impression.
A little bit of research
• Go online, browse the recruitment agency’s website, have a look at their social media pages and press releases. This information is easily accessible and is there to give you a better understanding of how the process works, how to apply, etc.
• Look carefully at who you are actually sending an application to. Internships or graduate jobs advertised on job boards such as Reed or Gumtree will often have been put up by agencies on behalf of employers. Similarly, if the website you are applying through is a recruitment agency, address your application to them rather than the employer.
• Checking the FAQ pages of website may answer your query and save you emailing.
• Each recruitment agency will have a different way of working, some will have the resources to respond instantly and others may take a few days to respond initially. If you receive an automated email response following an application, this is worth reading as it will explain the next stages of the process.
• A few tweaks to how you approach agencies and the application process in general and you could be well on your way to securing a grad role that’s just right for you. Good luck!
Editor’s note: All images are property of Inspiring Interns.