Massey University CareerplaNZ

Career and student learning issues brought to you by Massey University’s Careers Service – New Zealand

Date with an agency

Posted by John Ross on February 16, 2009

Its commonplace, in today’s job market, to see stress placed on the need to be ‘creative’ in job seeking.  For many, this will include making use of recruitment consultancies and agencies.  To what extent can they help though?  Chances are you’ll know stories of people who have registered with such organisations, expected to be invited to job interviews then heard nothing.  Indeed, that may have happened to you!

Worth highlighting from the outset, is that the agents’ clients are employers rather than those who are looking for work.  It is the employers – not the job seekers who pay the agency.  Primarily, agencies will ‘screen’ job applicants to assist the employer to avoid having to handle perhaps hundreds of telephone calls; emails and letters from job seekers themselves.

As a result, job search through agencies takes work in itself.

First and foremost in this is the need for job seekers to have a pretty clear idea of where they want to go and of the type(s) of work that they’re looking for.  In other words, it’s vital to avoid a ‘scattergun’ approach.  By this I mean sending out high numbers of ‘speculative’ applications to potential employers; registering with as many agencies as you can find and being vague about what you want; what you can offer and why you’re approaching the organisation concerned.  After all, agencies will assume that you’re pretty clear about what you’re looking for and meeting this ‘test’ helps the agency to refer you to clients most likely to be interested in your particular mix of skills; qualifications and possibly experience.

As with any job application, in approaches to agencies you’ll need to clarify your relevant skills in the covering letter and in your CV.  Remember always that they are your marketing tools rather than historical documents.

Many job seekers find that agencies are of most help to those seeking work for those with experience rather than a first job.  In other words, it’s worth bearing in mind that whilst you may not be suitable for today’s job you could be for tomorrow’s.

To identify agencies that might be of use to you, look at the press.  It’s common for agencies to publicise some of their opportunities there and this should give you some idea of the sort of positions they specialise in. You’ll also find a vast range listed in Yellow Pages.  Don’t overlook the fact that friends and family may be able to recommend agencies to you as well.  Most reputable agencies in New Zealand are members of:

·        The Recruitment and Consulting Services Association

When you register with an agency the onus will be on you to be proactive.  You’ll need to keep in touch with them – without badgering them – and to update them on your progress in job search.

Finally, if you are an international student it is crucial to note that no agency can guarantee you a job.  Also, that if an agency finds work for you there is no guarantee that it’s one that is suitable for a work visa if a work visa is what you need and are seeking.  As always, contact The New Zealand Immigration Service directly for advice.



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