Dealing with Recruitment Consultants

I had never ever dealt with recruitment agencies before, when I first came to the UK 10 years ago. The whole idea seemed great. I saved my CV on a website and then simple only hit the “Reply” button when I saw something suitable. Needless to say, I never got a job through the agency that way, although I applied for at least 300 of them.

Over the last couple of years my strategy has changed and become more successful. I found good recruitment consultants and bad ones out there. Here are my 12 tips of how to deal with recruitment consultants – they worked for me and some of my clients, but they are not commonly accepted truths – so ensure you find your own way.

  • Take responsibility for your career. It’s not your recruitment consultant’s responsibility to get you a job. Recruitment consultants are sales people. They are keen to hit their sales targets, not to hold your hand. Don’t rely on agencies and keep your expectations low.
  • Register your CV on Job Sites and Networking Sites such as LinkedIn and… especially if you have special skills. These databases are often searched by recruitment agencies. LinkedIn is a must (!)- lots of head hunters work with LinkedIn. You will thus have a chance of the job finding you rather than the other way around.
  • Build a relationship with your recruitment consultant: I once found a really good consultant when I actually went from agency to agency and met them personally. I would regularly call them and drop by – and had a job in no time. The Guardian career website says “If the agency tells you to simply fill in a form and they’ll put you on the database, the chances are you are wasting your time.” So true from my experience.
  • Ask your recruitment consultant how they would like to work together. Some want to be called every day to see that you are keen, others only once in a while. My experience is that it’s good to contact them fairly frequently to remind them that you’re keen.
  • Save yourself time: Call the agency to enquire what the job is all about before you prepare and send your CV and a cover letter. That can literally save hours and hours of time – jobs are sometimes advertised incorrectly!
  • Get feedback: Call the consultant once you have sent the CV to enquire whether they received it, whether they think you’d be suitable for the job. Whenever I have been told that I was not, I asked: “Do you have a minute to give me some feedback on why this role is not suitable?” That gave me some indications as to what roles to apply for in the future.
  • A friend of mine once got a job by simply persisting. Although her recruitment consultant did not want to send her profile to the client, my friend talked him (almost coerced him) into doing it anyway. He finally gave in and my friend had a job with Merrill Lynch within a week.
  • Remember, recruitment consultants are sales people. They won’t find you the job that you really want to find, but the one they can best sell you for. Exceptions may apply.
  • A friend who runs courses on how to use LinkedIn once told me that if you accept an invitation to link in with a recruitment consultant, they might search your contacts and might stop being interested in you. That might be true (I don’t know), but another friend who is a recruitment consultant tells me that this is not how he works at all and that all of his jobs are advertised on LinkedIn nowadays. You will simply fall under the radar unless you link in with him.
  • Specifically search for agencies that work in your area of expertise. An overview or agencies in each field can be found on:
  • In spite of all the bad press they are receiving, remember that recruitment consultants a) are only doing their job and b) are working for your potential employer. Treat them with respect and be friendly and professional. At the same time, if you bump into a bad one, consider making a complaint or simply move on.
  • There is a book called “How to handle your recruitment consultant”. I only read a couple of pages on Google books. I liked what I read. Also, a book that I’ve recommended previously is “The Brilliant Job Hunter’s Manual”… it also contains a section on how to deal with recruitment consultants. Have a look at the preview in Google books yourself and decide whether it’s worth buying.

Many people overestimate the amount of jobs that are filled through recruitment agencies. It’s a better strategy to apply for jobs directly. You’ll have a much higher chance of being accepted! By the way, a lot of Job Sites such as are mainly used by agencies, not by employers themselves.

If you are looking for a job at the moment, please read on in the Free Advice for Jobseekers. If contains information on why you should customise your CV and cover letter and some more tricks and tips.



  1. Excellent tips!

  2. I think this is excellent advice and will certainly be adding it to my job search strategy. I think there is a danger that certainly those who are newer to the job searching process can take the view that recruitment consultants should find you the job you want and do it quickly.

  3. Very good one!
    I believe everywhere we look, there’s knowledge to be provided.

    What I hate the most is (Thank you for applying to xxxx. Although your background is of high standard, currently it is at variance with some of the key requirements for this particular position) and you deeply know that your profile is suitable but the recruiting agency doesn’t have the time to carefully review your profile!!

    We are really unfortunate as our profiles are not being dealt with in a proper way! I don’t want to start thinking that Recruiting Agencies are a waste of time and energy!

  4. Great post, I really appreciate it

  5. I had better success with applying directly to jobs too, and can never trust recruitment agencies.

  6. Good advice, I appreciate it.

  7. You ‘re so ingenious! I don’t think Ive read anything like this before. So effective to find somebody with some original views on this subject. I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for permiting me to remark!.

  8. I just read your post and fully agreed !!!
    It is a shame I didn’t read before 😦

  9. Another thing they sometimes do is phone your current employer and offer their services. One did this to me, and even named me as looking for work. Needless to say I lost my current job before I found a new one. Think carefully before using an agency. I never use them now, and spend time researching the type of company I want to work for and then contact them directly; this has proved far more effective.

  10. Well I would agree with most of the things discussed above, but I would like to add few things from my experiences. Some times same Job is advertised in several consultancy websites more are less with same specification and title and location, If you believe you got very strong potential to get this Job try to find which company it is and get to there website and apply from there. Else you get to non popular consultancy they take less on you when compared to popular ones, Here you ask them send supporting documents, not just CV make sure you let the employer know you are deadly interest in that Job. If you profile matches and you show serious interest you will certainly get call for face to face. Before interview make sure you know as many things as you could about company and prepare depth in about your skills, surely you will get the Job.
    Best of Luck

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