Staffing and Recruitment Agencies

Settlement ISC Employment

Question: “Should I use Staffing and Recruitment agencies to help me find a job?”

Answer: Yes, and No.

The first thing you need to understand about a recruiter is that they do not work for you. They work for whatever company pays them. YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS.

In other words, they only get paid if the candidate they send to the company actually gets hired. There are several problems this causes you as the candidate.

  • Since a company only pays if they hire someone, they can afford to be extremely picky with what candidates are presented to them, even if their expectations are totally unrealistic (and as a former HR professional I can tell you, they often are). Imagine 10-15 recruiters from different agencies, kneeling down before the company with an offering (your resume). The company is only going to pick the ones that are the absolute best of the best, the closet to what their fantasy of a perfect candidate is EVEN if that is unrealistic.
  • For this reason, it is in the best interests of the RECRUITER (but not you as the candidate) to present the candidates they think the company will most likely choose, so that they are the ones that win the business and get paid, not their competitor. In other words, they often get little reward for taking a risk on someone who is not absolutely PERFECT.


That said, there are potential benefits to working with a recruiter.

  • You should approach them because they often have an extensive list of contacts and relationships that they have built with hiring managers/companies. By approaching them, you are (in theory at least) accessing their own network and thus you are POTENTIALLY increasing the number of hiring managers who will see your resume. The more hiring managers who see your resume, then statistically, the greater the chance you will find an employer that thinks they can use your skills and experience.
  • Despite what I have said in my first two points a the top of this article, some recruiters thrive off of marketing imperfect candidates (and everyone is imperfect). They feel they can sell someone to a company, that may be reluctant at first. In this way, they are taking a greater risk, but also may be getting a bigger reward since most recruiters are not doing it. For this reason, it never hurts to approach a recruiter.

Tips on working with recruiters:

  • Keep your expectations low, you cannot rely on them to find you a job.
  • As I mentioned above, some recruiters may see value in your and feel they can successfully market you to a potential employer. So my recommendation is to approach several. There is nothing unethical about this. Keep in mind, they do not work for you , they do not owe you anything, and thus you don’t owe them anything either (beyond basic professional courtesy).
  • Be proactive. Check in the recruiter every 1-2 weeks. Don’t overwhelm them, but do follow up. If they have a website and you see a job that interests you, ask them about it.
    1. They may have forgotten about you. Don’t take this personally, recruiters see tonnes of people and tonnes of resumes.
    2. They may not be interested in marketing you to the employer, but frankly, they may send off your resume, just to get you to stop harassing them. This is good because at least your resume got to the employer.
  • The real key, is to not overwhelm them with phone calls or e-mails. Every few days to 1 week apart between communications is basic business etiquette. This gives people time to respond.
  • Also, listen to them and go with your gut. It may be that they are just not interested in working with you. If this is the case, you need to focus your efforts on different recruiters, or wait a few weeks/few months, and r-re-approach the agency again, and try and contact a different recruiter there.

So in summary. Yes, work with recruiters, but remember, they don’t work for you and thus you need to have realistic expectations, and also be proactive and aggressive with them, but in the bounds of professional communications etiquette.