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Should I use a recruiter for my job search?

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

Few things are more challenging than landing your ideal job in a cutthroat, competitive job market. As Australia continues grappling with an unpredictable business landscape (spurred by the impacts of COVID-19), seeking new roles or switching industries can seem intimidating. 

Fortunately, the economy has experienced a gradual recovery in the year’s latter half – with a 59.4% leap in total job vacancies, a 2.2% increase in total jobs, and a 0.9% boost in total employed persons. Career opportunities still abound, though it doesn’t hurt to seek extra help, if necessary.

Here’s where recruiters, and their career expertise, enter the scene. 

SkillsTalk explore the value of working with such professionals, and how they help open new doors to employment. 

How do recruiters work? 

Typically specialising in a specific field or industry, recruiters are responsible for matching a job-seekers skills to suitable, vacant job positions. They thus act as “talent scouts” on behalf of employers, seeking potential workers for full-time, part-time, or even contract positions. 

Recruiters are therefore required to have a thorough knowledge of their industry and its job market – this including in-demand skills, available roles, job-seeker demographics, and the specific traits employers may look for. They earn commission from the hiring company if their candidate is chosen; and as such, job-seekers typically needn’t pay a (reputable) recruiter for their services.

By working with recruiters, you gain access to better job market insights and opportunities you may not have heard of. They also provide expert career advice to assist with your job search, linking you to appropriate roles or sectors that match your skills. Such luxuries are absent in direct applications, where the entire job-hunt process – from finding the right vacancies to interview preparation – is left to your best judgement. 

We discuss these advantages further, and assess potential pitfalls, below.

The advantages of working with recruiters

  1. Employers have a better chance in finding skilled workers.
  2. You save time and energy on your job search.
  3. You expand your business network. 

1. Employers have a better chance in finding skilled workers.

Recruiters can offer you a valuable head start in your job search, though their services aren’t necessarily fit for everyone. Those who benefit most from their assistance are typically in fields of a high skills shortage (i.e. software developers, cybersecurity experts, specialist managers), who possess highly-specialised skillsets that are often hard to find. 

Those applying for higher-ranking or senior positions are also ideal clients. Since agencies pay their recruiters 15-25% of their candidate’s starting salary, they’re far more likely to spend time assisting applicants with managerial or executive skills. Workers seeking contract or temporary positions also have the benefit of turning to specialised contract recruiters. 

2. You save time and energy on your job search. 

man looking at laptop screen intently

Generally, recruitment services help you save time and energy on your job search. They do the heavy lifting of researching vacant positions, suitable companies, and gaining you access to any “hidden” opportunities (roles “confidentially advertised” and unavailable on the internet). As mentioned, they may also offer their insider knowledge on the current job marketplace, along with tips to attract employer attention or improve interview performance. 

3. You expand your business network. 

Connecting with recruiters can also effectively (and quickly) expand your business network. As they link you to various opportunities, you land the radar of multiple companies and potential employers. You may not get an interview with all of them, but they’ll likely keep you on file for future opportunities. 

It’s worth noting, however, that one shouldn’t rely on a recruiter’s services alone. According to director Nathalie Lynton of Shared and Halved (HR) Consulting, job-seekers are still required to maintain the same commitment and drive in performing their job search, leaning on recruiters for supplementary assistance and advice.  

The disadvantages of working with recruiters

  1. Less work opportunities offered for job seekers with limited experience.
  2. The recruiter may not be a reliable source for jobs.

1. Less work opportunities offered for job seekers with limited experience. 

Job-seekers have plenty to gain from working with recruiters, though as mentioned – they’re not always an ideal solution. 

Those entering an industry for the first time may struggle in finding a recruiter to help them. With companies paying recruiters for their services – they often decide whether a specific job or position is worth the investment. Entry-level roles are typically the first to find applicants (with college graduates and industry entrants as their main targets), making additional recruitment services unnecessary. 

However, if available, individuals can turn to college campus recruiters for this specialised assistance. 

2. The recruiter may not be a reliable source for jobs. 

A recruiter’s services can also vary, so it helps to do your research in finding a reputable, reliable, and suitable professional to work with. A recruiter may have a poor relationship with the company you’re after – which may stifle or slow the hiring process. While many are skilled in expanding your field opportunity, some may offer selections biased in their favour; leaving you with a tailored picture of the job market and letting better, more suitable roles fall by the wayside.

Using a middle-man may also brew communication issues between you and the company, making it hard to leave a good first impression. 

These problems are easily curbed, however, with the right services. 

How to find the right recruiter

  1. Ask your professional network for recommendations.
  2. Do your research.
  3. Check their work history. 

1. Ask your professional network for recommendations. 

By partnering with the right skills, you’ll reap the benefits of a recruitment service while keeping risks to a minimum. 

Start by asking around your professional network (i.e. your current and former colleagues) for recommendations of recruiters they’ve previously worked with. This way, you’ll gain first-hand insight on their experiences and what to expect. Scouting popular job boards, LinkedIn, and Googling reputable recruitment agencies are also helpful ways to begin your search.

2. Do your research. 

research concept

Once you’ve a potential contact (or few), take the time to do a little background research. Look into online reviews or LinkedIn comments for insight on their service quality and industry reputation. Review their specialties and past activities to ensure their experience aligns with your current goals. 

3. Check their work history.

It can also help to check their history with recruitment firms: do they hop around often, or tend to stay in one for a reasonable time? Those who constantly change companies are likely unable to build long-term connections with candidates, calling their commitment into question. 

Need a skills boost on your job hunt? 

Recruiters may be equipped to expand your career opportunities – but it’s the right skillset that lands you the job. 

Upskilled currently offers a wide variety of online courses in IT, community services, business administration, and more; helping you build the skills you need to pursue your dream role or industry. 

Want to speed up the job hunt with a skills upgrade? Enquire with us on a course today. 
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