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Guidelines on using recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies can be useful for finding temporary jobs and openings in areas with little direct recruitment such as the computer games industry.  

A list of recruitment Agencies & job sites focused on temporary or gap filling jobs suitable for students / recent graduates, for whom earning some money may be the short term priority, e.g. vacation work, gap year, while undertaking job search can be found here.

If you choose to use an agency, or apply for a job being advertised by an agency, we suggest you bear these points in mind:

  • Agencies get commission income from the employers they work for. Their employer list may not be very long or varied, so check out who their clients are if you can.
  • Your best interests as a job-seeker may not be their prime consideration. They only deal with employers willing to pay their fees - many employers are not.
  • Agencies have to be selective to make a profit. They encourage people to register but will then be highly selective about which ones they think they can place. Others may be left high and dry. Putting all your eggs into an agency basket is a risky strategy.
  • Independent guidance and assistance focused on the interests of the individual is not the aim of recruitment agencies. An agency may get you an interview but it is up to you to convince the employer to recruit you. Especially for first-time job-seekers, this means thorough research on the sector and preferably the employer. Putting your CV online and letting the agency sort you out may seem attractive, but can lead to jobs.
  • You may not retain control of your material. Once you pass your CV electronically to an agency you may not know where it goes and who gets to see it. Your CV may be rewritten, inaccurately, before being sent out.
  • If you are offered psychometric tests, check that you will be offered personal and professional feedback.
  • The regulatory regime for agencies, especially on the internet, is not very strict and standards vary from the highly professional to the distinctly questionable. Treat all claims with caution.
  • Some less-scrupulous agencies will harvest job advertisements from employers, (a few may even re-advertise these in their own name) and then try to offer up candidates to the employers for selection. We have received feedback from employers who refuse to consider applicants offered this way because they will not pay a premium to an agency when good candidates are applying to them directly. If your CV is being put forward under these circumstances, then you are effectively ruling yourself out of an opportunity for which you could have applied directly.
  • Some agencies have claimed, or hinted, at having an association with the University Careers Service. We do not endorse or support any particular agency. Nor do we give our permission for our published material to appear on other people's websites.
  • Check that any guidance you get is impartial and informed: if in doubt talk to the Careers Service.

Our advice is to treat agencies as, at best, an additional resource to those that the Careers Service can offer. We are here to help you whenever you need it, after graduation as well as before.