Agencies and exclusivity

Bookworm55 Registered Posts: 479 Dedicated contributor 🦉
Is there any advantage to limiting yourself to using only a single recruitment agency?
I'll explain my position below:

As I have said elsewhere, I am about to graduate with a 2:1 in Accounting and Finance (and am already a full Member of the AAT), so naturally I need to find myself a job!

Last week, I reregistered with the recruitment agency I used in the last two summers. They had found me decent summer jobs in purchase/sales ledger, so they were my first choice for an agency for jobs after graduation. They asked if I was registered with any other agencies: I told them I was not as they were the first ones I called.

They've got me a few leads, put my CV across for various jobs but there really doesn't seem to be much out there. I gave another agency a call yesterday, after seeing several vacancies advertised via their website. I intended to register with them as well; I spoke to them and sent over my CV as they requested. Actually, they were supposed to get back to me today with an interview time and day for me to go in for a pseudo-interview and they haven't. I'll have to give them a gentle prod tomorrow.

The first agency called me today, with a particularly good-sounding vacancy that I was happy to be considered for. During the conversation they started talking again about me being exclusively registered with them and how useful that was. (It is still true as I haven't registered with the other one yet)

Is it just sales puff or is there actually any value in only going through one agency?
I don't want to lie to Agency A, so if I do register with Agency B as well I will tell them that. I'm not sure that it really matters, but it seems unnecessarily clandestine to lie about that.

Let me know what you think.

ps- this isn't the only thing I'm doing to look for work, but I do believe agencies can be useful.


  • Karen L
    Karen L Registered Posts: 70 Regular contributor ⭐
    Agencies are good to deal with - I was changing jobs last year - had been in one job for 10 years and needed to get into an acccounts role to make use of the study - didn't limit myself to how many agencies - actually found it beneficial to play one against the other. You do need to be able to keep track of who deal with though !
    Found that putting my cv on monster jobs worked as well... put your name out there in as many ways as possible when you are job hunting. Good luck with your job search ...
  • NeilH
    NeilH Registered Posts: 553 Epic contributor 🐘

    Companies and firms often have preferences when it comes to the agencies they use, so just because one agency maybe particularly good doesn't mean every company/firm will use them! So, by registering with just one agency could actually limit your exposure to the market. The benefit to the agency my being exclusivly registered with them is that they wont loose out on their commision when a suitable job comes along for you.

    I usually register with several agencies when I'm looking, but not too many so as to keep the communication managable! It's also best to let agencies know that you are registered with other agencies. This should stop your CV being sent to an employer more than once and might give each agency a push to find you a job!

    Remember, it is just sales puff so dont let them persuade you to register exclusivly!

  • farmergiles
    farmergiles Registered Posts: 1,693 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    If you limit yourself to one agency then you aren't able to take advantage of the many jobseeking sites on the internet. I use Totaljobs and all the agencies show vacancies on there and ask you to forward your CV for any vacancy that you apply for. This would be stopped if you were exclusively with one agency.
  • blobbyh
    blobbyh Registered Posts: 2,415 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    I'll always turn up on an agency thread seeing as I work for one! First of all, agencies do work, for a great many people who end up finding their dream jobs. Period.

    The important thing isn't just to register with every agency going but more importantly, to make sure you register with the ones that are right for you. It's no good signing up with a jack of all trades agency if you work in a niche sector since they're not likely to be offered the positions by a company looking for something very specialist. If you're temping, it would be worth going with just one agency as you'd build a relationship with the temp team and there's none of the to-ing and fro-ing with P45's. If you're just looking for perm, then by all means go with two, three or four but I'd suggest not too many due to crossover problems.

    You should also be realistic about your skills and what you can do. Say a position being offered is for a trainee Financial Controller and you think you could do that, then go for it. If the position is just for a (by implication already trained) Financial Controller, it's unlikely you're gonna be offered any training since they're being specific in what they want. The wages will guide you.

    While you may get away with a little CV bolstering (and most agencies will do this on your behalf), outright fibbing will be spotted by any half-decent recruitment consultant who usually has a list of job criteria to look for given to them by the client. Liars are not tolerated and people who don't match the criteria won't be carried forward. It's just business. If you don't get a position, don't naturally assume the agencies are rubbish as many seem to. It's simply that you don't meet/haven't met the criteria for the jobs they currently have and it's nothing personal even though some people do take it very personally.

    Oh and do get your CV onto the Monster, Reed and eFinancial websites...

    Good luck!
  • Bookworm55
    Bookworm55 Registered Posts: 479 Dedicated contributor 🦉
    Thanks for the replies, you've all been helpful. I will register for multiple agencies, as no-one seems to be raising a serious objection. I am looking at accounting related specialists, or the specialist office of the larger general agencies. I'm not quite willing to work in something utterly unrelated to accounts. Yet. I may have to change my mind in a couple of months.

    Really, I want a permanent job. But I'm willing to temp in the interim and/or take temp-to-perm or 6-24 month fixed term contracts. I'll probably stick with Agency A for temp purposes and just look for permanent with the others.

    What do you think about being open about my intention to pursue professional qualifications, and that I would even do it without employer support if necessary? I hadn't expected any employer to be worse than indifferent until I worked for one that was actively hostile to the idea of me pursuing part-time study (in my own time).
  • blobbyh
    blobbyh Registered Posts: 2,415 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    With reference to your last question. I'd proceed with caution. Employers usually take you on based on what you can currently do for them as they have current needs, not necessarily what you can do for them in two or three years time unless it's specifically a trainee position and/or career development is being offered.

    When I first started my own self-funded accounts training back in 2004, my current employer found out as I had to ask permission to leave half an hour early on college days. I was in a non-accounts position at the time but rather than them thinking of me as a future asset to their accounts department, I was one of the ones selected for redundancy when hard times hit. I guess they saw me as working for something that would eventually take me away from them so why should they show any loyalty to me?

    Also bear in mind that for a perm role, your employer may have paid upwards of £5,000 to the agency for your services and won't be too chuffed if you're working towards something that would result in your eventually leaving them and from their point of view, their having wasted their time and money.
  • Bookworm55
    Bookworm55 Registered Posts: 479 Dedicated contributor 🦉
    Which suggests what? Playing your cards close to your chest?

    I see it as related to the idea of how ambitious you should sound. If there's no specific mention of career progression in the job specification, then anything you say about wishing to progress does sound like you'll be leaving as soon as something better comes along.

    Arguably, and in a large enough company, you could wait for your immediate supervisor/line manager to be promoted and step into the vacated space. Which I feel is a perfectly reasonable idea, if it's something that's likely to happen. Again, I'd need to walk the line between that and looking like I was trying to get promoted over their head.

    The other trouble with that is that, if there is no opportunity for promotion within the company, I'd have to be looking to move on in three years or so anyway.

    Is that so disloyal? I don't think it's something I should really be too open about, but the idea of a job for life has really fallen by the wayside. Can an employer be expecting it to be otherwise? I don't think it is reasonable to expect your employees to stay with your company until their retirement at 65 (especially if they're in their twenties when you recruit them), but then I don't think anyone really does, so that's a bit of a straw man.

    However, it raises a related question: how long can you expect someone to stay in a 'permanent' position? Doing exactly the same job, I mean. Because the advert, however it's presented, specifies the nature of the role so unless there has been a miscommunication (and I have been in interviews like that) you shouldn't really expect anything different.
  • oakley
    oakley Registered Posts: 73 Regular contributor ⭐
    Any employer that is hostile to you furthering your qualifications in your own time is probably not one you would want to work for in the first place. Professional development is key to continued success. People moving jobs is a fact and empoyers have to deal with this, I have actually had to encourage someone to look for another job so he could further his career, as his role was not demanding enough for him and we could not offer anything else.

    Regarding the agancies, you should register with a few, in my local area demand for clients has picked up in the last few weeks, keep in contact with them every week so they still know you are looking for a job.

    Good Luck
  • blobbyh
    blobbyh Registered Posts: 2,415 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    There's a fine balance between personal development that benefits yourself first and professional development that benefits your employer first. Career development within an organisation is often a 'given' once you've established yourself. But once is the operative word. How many employers do you think are willing to take someone on who they think may have ulterior motives and merely see the job potentially being offered as a stepping stone to someone else?

    Previous length of service and employer commitment are two things heavily scrutinised by any interviewer worth their salt. You'd need to show how your further qualification and progression benefits them as well as yourself and how you could become a future asset with their support. Factoring in a possible agency placement fee plus cost of wages over two or three years, their investment could be worth £50k minimum and they'll want to see some long term commitment before they take someone on, especially in a cash contracted market
  • Bookworm55
    Bookworm55 Registered Posts: 479 Dedicated contributor 🦉
    Going back to almost my original post, what should I do about jobs being advertised from different offices?

    Let me explain what I mean: I registered with my nearest office from a particular agency. Although I live in Hertfordshire, I would consider Cambridge a perfectly reasonable commute, especially the city centre itself or the research parks that stretch out to the south. I told my usual contact with the agency this. But, I have noticed a few suitable vacancies advertised on their website which he hasn't mentioned. Cambridge also has an office of the same agency, and it is through them that they are being handled.

    I'm not quite sure what to make of this. Is it true that, if a job is being dealt with from the X-Town office, a consultant in the Y-Town office has no incentive to put forth candidates as it'll be the person in X-Town office that will get the commission anyway?

    Does that mean I need to repeat the registration process, initial interview etc with a second office of the same agency? Or is it enough to call up the X-Town office and say "even though I usually deal with the Y-Town branch, I've seen some vacancies that are being dealt with your end that I'd like to apply to"? Repeatedly explaining to the people in Y-Town that I'm also looking for work in X-Town doesn't seem to help.

    Excuse my ignorance, I'm not really sure how agencies work in some ways. I may be totally wrong in my perception that the consultants have 'patches' with less incentive to find someone a position in someone else's patch.
  • Gianni
    Gianni Registered Posts: 99 Regular contributor ⭐
    If I was you I'd just ring up the contact for that agency location and ask them. It'll do no harm. I also shouldn't imagine you'd have to go through the whole meet and greet and form filling again as you are registered with that agencies other offices.

    My experience of agencies is that yes they can be helpful but at the end of the day they are after their own commission and thus will look in their own interests as well. For example, I was offered 2 accounts graduates today at £12k per annum (nearly fell off my chair, has the market fallen so much?) but then was also asked how I was getting on and whether I was looking for a new position. It's the nature of the beast but the best jobs are with the agencies and it's your choice.
  • blobbyh
    blobbyh Registered Posts: 2,415 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    You shouldn't have to re-register as your details are probably held on a sophisticated, extremely expensive database accessible from all offices. There could be internal politics within the agency as you will "belong" to the original consultant (there are good reasons for this) but this isn't your problem.

    Copied/edited from a post I wrote the other day;

    Where did some people begin thinking agencies are charitable not-for-profit organisations... it's about making a profit from supplying suitable candidates into our paying clients. Recruitment agencies like any other for-profit organisations... it's just that our commodity is people, the skills they have and that others want and are willing to pay for.

    Hey Gianni, sounds like you could be in the gunsights for being headhunted soon; that might have been a tentative call from the agency to find out how responsive you'd be.
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