3 Golden rules for using recruitment agencies

3 Golden rules for using recruitment agencies

I started Movemeon with Nick because we (and all of our colleagues) were fed up with spam & cold calls from recruitment agencies. There are some good ones out there. But it seemed they were very few and far between.

There are amusing similarities between estate and recruitment agencies. I’ve moved house a few times. Each time I’ve had a good idea of what I’m after. X number of bedrooms. Within Y minutes of these tube stations. Etc. More often than not the agent tries to sell you something that’s not remotely right. Sometimes you even go to do a viewing just to shut them up while knowing full well – from the photos, map or floor plan – that it’s not right.

Same stuff with recruiters. I had an initial meeting (read investing my time despite working 80 hour weeks). I was specific about what I wanted: the size of company, industry, location, nature of the job. Soon after, the same recruiter rings up to pitch the ‘perfect fit’ at a ‘leading company’. Of course, they won’t give you the company name on the phone (you might sidestep them and they won’t get paid). So you go to meet them again. And the company, industry, role and location are nothing like what you’re after. Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, if you’re actively looking to move job, recruitment agencies are 1 of the channels that you should use. They do get hold of opportunities. And it’s not inconceivable that 1 of those will be a great match. So how should you work with them? Here are some simple golden rules.

1. Never send them your ‘standard’ CV

There are plenty of agencies out there who simply mass email CVs to as many businesses they can think of. They might find a job on the company’s website, track down the likely hiring manager on LinkedIn, work out an email address and spam your CV across without you knowing. These agencies hope the hiring manager bites (and if your CV is good, they might). They then try to back sell you role despite already having told the hiring manager that you’re super interested.

How do we know this? A number of Movemeon members have applied for a job directly through Movemeon (where all jobs are fully branded). They’ve even had interviews arranged. A few days later an agency contacts them to say that ‘they’re already in the process’ for the role. Despite never having once discussed the opportunity with the candidate. Never mind sought permission to share their CV. Shocking. But true.

2. Only send PDF, tailored CVs referencing a specific opportunity

It’s not good for your personal brand to look uncoordinated (as with the above). Equally, you should always take the opportunity to tailor your CV to specific roles (as a consultant, you’ll have a range of experiences, some of which will be more relevant than others).

To avoid these situations, only send a recruitment agent a CV after they have shared a specific opportunity with you. Write on that CV something similar to: “For circulation with [Company name] in reference to [job title], [date]”. Then PDF the CV and lock it for editing / send read-only.

3. Don’t rely on agencies

An average agency regularly works with 5-10 clients. And generally, it’s only larger corporates that use agencies. You stand a much better chance of discovering & landing your perfect opportunity by being proactive. Define industries (even companies) of interest. Use web platforms (like Movemeon and others) to discover their opportunities. And then apply for them directly. Not only will you find more exciting opportunities, but you will also come across far more authentically interested in the role as you’ve bothered to track it down rather than being put forward. So you’re chances of success go up too.

When you meet an agency for the first time, ask them who their clients are and how many they’ve had. Ask them for a list of jobs they’ve recently placed and the background of the candidates. Ask them to email you following the meeting with a summary of your requirements (so you can check they’ve understood you correctly).

I hope that’s helpful. Don’t avoid using agencies. Just track down the better ones and use them wisely. And then, not as the mainstay of your job search. And if you’re a consultant or alum and would like to use the Movemeon platform to discover opportunities on your own terms, you can register here.

At Movemeon, we connect (ex) consultants and freelancers with job opportunities, advice & events. Register now to view and apply to jobs, for insider advice & networking/industry events.


Movemeon.com - The world’s leading community of consultants, alumni and commercial professionals. Also, growing hubs in France, Germany and APAC.

Founded by two ex-McKinsey Consultants, Nick Patterson & Rich Rosser.
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