What do recruitment agencies do?

A recruitment agency can help you by submitting you for vacancies notified to the agency by employers.

Employers use recruitment agencies in order to

  • recruit for a new type of post for which they have no expertise
  • minimise publicity when recruiting in one area of work while losing staff in another
  • conceal recruitment activities from competitors
  • get help with the recruitment process - eg if they don't have enough staff to deal with it

Many agencies specialise in certain types of work, within certain sectors or in particular geographical areas.  The employer pays the agency to assist them in filling a particular job.  You should not be asked to pay the agency for finding you work - although there will normally be a charge for additional services such as personality testing or preparing a CV.  On filling the post, the employer will pay the agency a fee (normally a percentage of the first year's salary). Frequently, the advert will not name the employer.

When registering with agencies remember that the employer is the agency's primary client and not you.

Online recruitment agencies

These online agencies enable you to post your application form on the site for employers to view. You need to check  the security of the site, as you are supplying personal information. To find graduate recruitment agencies, use a web search engine to search for 'graduate jobs' or similar.  See the DORAS Directory for a list of online agencies in the Republic of Ireland, and Jobs1for agencies in the UK and Northern Ireland.

Staffing and contract agencies

The agency compiles a pool of candidates with qualifications, skills and experience and will supply staff to an organisation for a specific contract (anything from one day to several months). You will be paid by the agency for the hours that you actually work - you are not paid for holidays or sick pay.  Employers might use staffing or contract agencies in order to:

  • find staff to cover sickness and holidays
  • tackle specific projects such as computer system reorganisation
  • avoid having unnecessary staff

What are the advantages of using agencies?

  • If you're working full-time, the recruitment agency can be working on your behalf while you apply for jobs directly.
  • Specialist agencies may be able to offer advice about their sector.
  • You can work through staffing and contracts agencies to gain varied short-term experience with several employers.
  • You may be able to set up work in advance of arrival in a new town.

General rules for using recruitment agencies