The job market is tough right now. In fact, it’s always been tough and it always will be. What you need is a reputable expert on the matter to help you to get through it. Recruitment Agencies can help.
You may well have spent the best part of your adult life in the Forces. This is no bad thing but it will mean, particularly if you joined up straight from school, that you have little or no experience of finding a job. Fortunately, recruitment agencies can help to give you the best possible chance in the job market, that even on a good day, can be tough.
Recruitment agencies literally represent you in the job market. Normally a candidate would approach them with his or her CV for an initial assessment and some idea of the type of jobs or sectors they’d like to work in or feel that they would be best suited to. After the agent has had a little time to reflect and collect a few rough ideas together they will usually invite you in to their office for a chat along similar lines. It’s worth making every effort during this time to look and act professionally. The agency has a reputation to protect and will be reluctant to put forward a candidate that might jeopardise that by embarrassing them. The face to face meeting is literally a chance for them to measure you up and to some extent work out how you’d ‘present’ at interview.
Selecting an agent
It won’t be too high pressure, particularly since they’ll realise your position as an ex Serviceperson. In fact, it’s a much more equal partnership than you might think. If you don’t like the agency or the way you’re treated you could choose to appoint another agency to represent you. Although there are (relatively) few jobs and (relatively) many candidates, agencies like to play a numbers game and can’t afford to lose a good candidate with the skills they know your military background will have given you.
At the end of your face to face meeting the agent will usually register your details and ask you about any specific jobs and sectors you’d like to try as well as equally those you’d prefer to avoid. This is a good time to mention any issues, problems or barriers that you know of regarding specific choices. If you have a phobia towards clipboards for example, don’t become a warehouse manager. Your agent will also be able to advise you on the availability of jobs in your ideal sector or if you’re struggling to make a decision advise you on jobs they think your skills and experience make you suitable for.
Recruitment agencies that have established themselves in a sector or geographical area will be able to give you the inside track on what’s happening in their part of the job market. Similarly, businesses will probably already know who they are, how they operate and the types of candidates that they put forward. Their brand, in effect could serve to get your foot in the door, assuming they’ve put forward good candidates in the past (especially if they’ve gone on to become effective employees).
Generalist versus specialist
Although the big high street agencies will usually have a generalist viewpoint they may well have industry experts embedded within their offices (usually in areas like sales, factory work or construction). Other agencies that might be smaller in size may have a specialist angle. They will generally have fewer clients but because of their bespoke services be potentially more respected by their clients (the employers) who you want to get in front of. The nature of the agency you approach will become evident when you meet with them. It’s also worth mentioning that you shouldn’t have to sign up to any exclusive registration and remain free to use other agencies. It is worth mentioning to agencies which organisations your CV has been put in front of because it prevents frustrating duplication of effort.
If you’re certain that you’d like to pursue a career in a particular sector a specialist agent might be your best option. Because of their more intimate knowledge of the clients they’ll be able to match your skills more effectively to the vacancies they have. They’ll also be able to give you the best possible preparation for interview. They might even be on personal terms with the person that arranges to interview you, giving an obvious head start.
It’s true that the best agents will sometimes go to extraordinary efforts on your behalf perhaps raising an expectation of some exorbitant fee that you’ll require for their expert consultation. Actually, recruitment agencies don’t charge their candidates. They sell their services to their clients. All of the pre interview work that the agency does for you is also helpful to their clients from the perspective of filtering good candidates through to the correct sectors, jobs, even specific organisations. This saves employers many valuable man hours in selection interviewing. The only things a reputable recruitment agency might ask you to pay for would be other professional services such as CV building or personality testing (to help you make an informed decision about which sectors you might be effective in).
Not all jobs are full time appointments and some are managed on a temporary basis. Some agencies may be able to put you in touch with organisations offering these types of opportunities. ‘Temping’ is a great way of getting work experience under your belt and really finding out if the job is for you. The only downside is that you’ll be an employee of your agency (and not awarded the rights and privileges of co-workers that have contracts from the actual employer) and you won’t receive pay for holidays or sick days.
Whether you choose to get into temporary, part time or full time employment, recruitment agencies provide an ideal service for anyone who has been away from the job market for any amount of time. They have specialist knowledge and up to date information to share with you. They can also be utilised before resettlement and could potentially arrange a contract to be waiting for you on your return home.
Getting the Best from Your Recruitment Agent
Your recruitment agency won’t know anything about you, at least initially. Try to have a rough idea of some of the sectors, job types and maybe organisations that you’d like to work with. Make sure you target your CV towards these areas through highlighting the more appropriate skills and experiences you’ve acquired.
Recruitment agencies have knowledge about the job market that you don’t. Listen and learn in order to get the inside track on what’s going on.
Let the agency know in advance if there are any specific things they need to know about you that could affect your employability in certain areas, ie: scared of heights, injured back or allergic to Velcro etc.
Good candidates and bad candidates both circulate in the job market. The bad candidates get in the way of agencies doing their job and suffer the elbow as a consequence. Being a good candidate starts with treating your agent like a trusted professional and being comfortable to work with. This will surely encourage more effort on their part for you.
There is nothing wrong in following up with an agency, especially if they have given a date by which to do so. Following up on the phone and in person when you ‘happen to be passing’ shows interest and keeps you at the top of their mind when talking about vacancies.