If you are looking for a graduate role which is related to science, then recruitment agencies could be one effective way of finding employment. They can offer temporary or permanent opportunities over a broad range of sectors. Sometimes when you are looking for work it can seem that many of the vacancies are being managed by recruitment agencies. What does this mean and how should you approach a recruitment agency?
How do recruitment agencies work?
Recruitment agencies work on behalf of employers (clients) who will ask them for help in recruiting for a particular role. There are several reasons that an organisation might use a recruitment agency rather than recruiting themselves; the process will probably be quicker, and the agency may have access to more candidates in a niche area.
A recruitment agency will also conduct eligibility to work checks and in some cases reference checks which could save the client time. Recruitment agencies charge the organisation for these services, so as a candidate you cannot legally be charged by them to help you find a job. An organisation may use more than one agency to help them fill a role as often no charge is made until a position has been successfully filled. Are you looking for temporary or permanent work?
Recruitment agencies deal with permanent and temporary (also called contract or interim) work. For a permanent role the agency would charge their client a one-off placement fee when they make a successful placement, and the candidate would work directly for the client organisation.
For temporary work a candidate would be employed and paid by the agency but work for the client for a period of time. This could include maternity or paternity cover, covering a secondment, or working on a short-term project. Temporary work could be a way to gain experience, try out a new sector or even a route to a permanent role. Temporary contracts can range from a few weeks up to two years in the UK.
What are the advantages of using an agency?
Recruitment agencies work on behalf of a number of different organisations over a range of sectors. For this reason they often have a great commercial insight into the areas in which they operate. If you can build a relationship with recruiters, they could be a great source of useful information. Established recruitment agencies have access to a large number of positions which may not be advertised elsewhere.
What are the disadvantages of using an agency?
Recruitment agencies are commercial organisations and will have a monetary interest in making placements, it is possible therefore that advice they give you may not be impartial. You may also find that recruiters only contact you when their client is interested in your CV and therefore, it is possible that the quality of service may not be consistent. Agencies may be most interested in graduates who already have some work experience.
How to choose an agency
Some of the science roles you will be thinking of applying to may well be advertised by recruitment agencies and you should be able to spot which agencies are advertising the most positions at a suitable level. It may also be worth asking any friends or colleagues if they have used an agency before – they may have recommendations. The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) offers advice on choosing a recruitment agency along with a members’ directory. You could also use Agency Central to help you find and select a recruitment agency.
How to work with an agency
There are lots of science jobs advertised through recruitment agencies and you could choose to apply for one of these online and wait and see if the agency contacts you. Alternatively, it is worth contacting recruitment agencies and having a more general conversation about what sort of vacancies you are interested in. You could do this by email or telephone.
If you use LinkedIn or a CV library website, you may find that recruiters contact you about opportunities. It is really important to have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile with a professional photograph, and you should make it clear what sort of employment opportunities you are interested in. Connect with any recruiters who contact you about vacancies.
Find out how to create your LinkedIn profile
In order to register with an agency you will normally be required to send your CV. You may then be invited to a registration interview where the recruiter will explore your experience and what sort of roles you are looking for. A good recruitment agency may want to meet you face-to-face so that they can really get to know you. You could look to develop a relationship with two or three agencies. Reputable agencies should be keen to spend a little bit of time getting to know you and understand exactly what your career aims and work requirements are.
The agency will submit your CV to any suitable roles and organise interviews with the client organisation for you. They should be able to offer feedback after an interview process and potentially help you negotiate salary or benefits if you are offered a role.
Get advice on developing your CV
It may be worth signing up with two or three agencies who can help with your job search. However, it is important not to rely solely on recruitment agencies; you should continue to check jobs boards, network and undertake your own job search activities.