How To Work With Recruitment Agencies To Find A Job

Discover the best ways to connect with recruitment agencies and how to build a fruitful relationship with a great recruiter during your job search.

by
January 23, 2023

As a former recruiter, I know the benefits of working alongside recruitment agencies during your job search.

Recruitment agencies have a lot of influence over the hiring decisions of many large organizations.

Recruitment agencies have the connections and the in-roads that job seekers need. These relationships are powerful. And it’s these relationships that you leverage when you partner with a recruitment company.

 

There is no shortage of recruitment agencies

The market is full of recruitment companies, and some of these have become well-established brands. You’ll have likely heard of Michael Page, Robert Walters and Randstad. These are just some of the many global recruitment powerhouses.

There are also lots of smaller, boutique recruitment agencies. These smaller firms often specialize in recruiting for a certain industry or within a particular geography.

There are also a lot of bad recruitment companies out there. Fortunately, many of the bad ones don’t last long, but they should be avoided at all costs.

What makes a good recruitment agency?

There are a few things, in my opinion, that make a recruitment agency a good one.

  • They are well-established and have stood the test of time. The market usually roots out the really bad ones. If a recruitment company has been around for a while and has expanded its presence, it’s a good sign.
  • They have certain specializations. You can’t be great at everything, especially in recruitment. Good recruitment agencies will have specific functions, such as HR or legal, or certain industries, such as Pharma, Food, and Healthcare, that they focus on.
  • They hire mature professionals and industry insiders. Recruitment companies that hire professionals from within their focus industry tend to be better. A former accountant is likely to understand the world of accountancy better than a fresh graduate, for example.

For more information on what you should look for in a recruitment agency read this dedicated article.

 

How to reach out to a recruitment company

Once you have shortlisted a few recruitment agencies that are a good match for your job search, you’ll need to begin reaching out to them.

There are a few ways you can reach out and make contact with a recruitment agency. We’ll look at them in order of effectiveness.

 

Apply for a job that they have advertised on their website

Recruitment agencies advertise the vacancies they are recruiting for on their websites. You might also see them posted on platforms like LinkedIn. 

Simply applying for an advertised role will get your resume into their system. If you are a great fit for the role you are likely to receive a call or an email.

However, you may not be exactly what they’re looking for. In this situation, your resume will likely be added to their ATS (applicant tracking system). This means you may be contacted in the future for another role.

 

Make contact on LinkedIn

In my experience, this tends to be people’s preferred method. Recruiters like myself receive hundreds of LinkedIn connections each week.

Most of the time these connections are from people looking for a job. A lot of the time these LinkedIn connection requests don’t even contain a message.

This is an ineffective means of contacting recruiters on LinkedIn.

 

There is a better way to connect with recruiters on LinkedIn

LinkedIn InMails are one of LinkedIn’s most useful tools. An InMail will allow you to send a long-form message to a recruiter even if you are not yet connected.

When a job seeker takes the time to use an InMail they are more likely to elicit a positive response.

LinkedIn InMails are a feature of LinkedIn Premium. You can get access to 5 InMails simply by signing up for a 30-day free trial.

This free trial can be cancelled easily before you are charged a cent. This is something all job seekers should consider doing.

You can learn more about a free trial of LinkedIn Learning /Premium here. (affiliate)

 

How to get a free trial of LinkedIn Premium
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Example of an InMail message to a recruiter

Below is an example of a message that you can send to a recruiter at your chosen recruitment agency.

Feel free to copy and paste this example adapting it to your individual situation and requirements.

 

Dear …

I saw the recent (insert job title) role you advertised and it looks like you specialize in (insert details.)

I am (give a brief overview of what you currently do in no more than two sentences).

I’m looking for roles such as (include details of your target roles).

It doesn’t look like you have anything suitable advertised currently, but do you think it would be worth having a quick call so that I can register with your agency for any roles that might be a match in the future?

Best Regards

Your Name – Contact Details

 

Besides InMails, there are many ways in which a free trial of LinkedIn Premium can help you find a job faster. Check out this dedicated article for more.

 

Send an email

Recruiters are more likely to open emails that appear directly in their inboxes.

Try to get the email address of the actual recruitment consultant that specializes in hiring for your target roles.

This can be done using LinkedIn or simply by guessing the email. For example, most email addresses are usually firstname.surname@company.com

There will usually be an email address on the recruitment agency website that will give you a clue as to the format they use.

You can then use the same message template above to reach out to them.

 

 

Tips for sending emails and InMails to recruiters

You are more likely to get a response from a recruiter if you send an engaging, personalized and professional message.

Too many people copy and paste the same generic message. Often they don’t even remember to change the name of the recipient.

This is not a good start. Especially if you want to be taken seriously by a recruitment agency.

Here are 5 tips for sending emails and InMails to recruiters.

 

1. Use the person’s name and spell it correctly

I receive many emails where my name has been spelt incorrectly or where the message has been addressed as ‘Dear sir’.

If you are emailing someone or sending them a message on LinkedIn, then you will know their name. Not using it, or spelling it incorrectly shows a lack of care and attention.

For formal greetings, I recommend using ‘Dear …’. However, if you want to appear less formal, then you could address the email ‘Hi…’

 

2. Make the message about them (at least a little bit)

No one likes to receive a generic message that feels like it has been sent to hundreds of other people. It feels like the person hasn’t put any effort into the message, so why should we put effort into a response?

Conversely, by demonstrating we have a genuine interest in the person we are messaging, and that we have written to them specifically, we greatly increase our chances of engaging them in conversation.

Your message needs to be tailored so that it’s clear it isn’t the same message you have sent to other people.

 

3. Be succinct and get to the point

The best messages are no longer than they need to be. If someone opens your message and it looks more like a short story, they may very well make the determination that it will take too long to read. Aim to be concise in your communication and make every word count.

 

4. Use short paragraphs

By breaking up your message into short paragraphs, you make it easier for the person to read and digest, this is especially true if the person is opening your message on their phone.

Modern technology has changed the way we communicate, and online content that performs best is content that is broken up into small digestible chunks. Quite simply, we have lost our ability (or desire) to read through large blocks of dense text.

 

5. End with a clear call to action

When you compose a message, you should consider what you hope the ideal outcome to be. Perhaps you want an interview or an introductory meeting. Maybe, you are looking for advice or you have a question you would like answered.

If the person receiving your message is not clear on its purpose and doesn’t know how to respond, they are less likely to reply at all.

Therefore, it is always worth finishing your email with a question or call to action that the reader can easily respond to.

 

How to develop a relationship with a recruiter

Now that you have made contact with your chosen recruitment agency, it’s time to build a relationship.

A recruiter’s top priority is filling their open role with the best candidate. This is how they earn their money, if they don’t find the best candidate they don’t earn.

This ultimately means that they do not work for you, they work for the organisation whose role they are filling. This is very important to understand and it has a huge bearing on how you go about building a relationship with a recruiter and how to set your expectations.

Here are my top 3 tips for building and maintaining a great relationship with a recruiter.

 

Be clear about what you want

Remember, the recruiter wins if you accept a role and stay in the organisation.

If you begin working with a recruiter before you know exactly what kind of role you want, and what you would be willing to accept, you can end up wasting each other’s time.

Trust me this is not the basis for a positive ongoing relationship!

If you’re not able to provide a recruiter with clarity regarding what kind of role, salary and benefits etc you will accept, you will likely find that they are reluctant to represent you.

The very last thing a recruiter wants is to work hard to get you an offer with a company that you ultimately turn down. It wastes their time, damages their reputation and costs them money.

 

It will really help you, and your recruiter, if from the beginning you can be clear on the following:

  • What seniority level you are looking for
  • The minimum salary you would accept
  • Your ideal salary
  • The must-have benefits
  • How far you are willing to travel
  • If you are willing to relocate
  • The required job title and variation thereof
  • Which companies you won’t work for
  • Which companies you would love to work for

Don’t tell a recruiter that you are open to anything, the reality is you are not, and they know it.

Don’t get into an interview process that you are not committed to, even for interview practice, it will only end in disappointment and a damaged relationship.

 

Be open and honest

Many candidates are either very secretive or very unclear about what they are looking for. Neither of these approaches will get you very far when working with a recruiter.

Typically, organisations will give recruiters very specific requirements for the candidates that they are looking for, this means that a recruiter will likely conduct a short interview/fact-finding session with you prior to representing you for any roles.

The more open you are with them, the easier it will be for them to effectively represent you.

 

Be open and upfront about the following:

  • Your current notice period, companies like to know this up front
  • Your salary and expected salary
  • How serious you are about your job search
  • How interested you are in a role or company that they pitch to you

 

Finally, how many recruitment agencies should you work with?

Ideally, you should work with no more than 1-2 recruitment companies at a time. As long as you have partnered with good agencies, this should be enough.

If you have lots of agencies sending out your resume to roles you run the risk have more than one agency send pitch you for the same role.

This causes problems, it can make you look desperate to an employer and often the recruitment agents will drop you from their shortlist in order to avoid a conflict of interest.

Find the best recruiters and develop a great relationship with them.

Give it two months. If no progress is being made have a frank conversation and consider moving on.

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About the author

Joel Mason

A seasoned recruiter, Joel works with Robotics organizations to help them secure top IIOT, AI, Automation & Robotics talent. Joel is the owner of Job Search Journey and a regular job search, careers and tech blogger.