Employment Agencies

Employment agencies fall into two basic categories: Useful or not.

People pay employment agencies to find jobs. Employers pay agencies to find staff, and do a lot of the hiring work and screening for them.

Some are excellent, notably those that specialize in your career. You can get personal service, and you can have someone else working to find you a job, with all the information needed to set up an interview for you.

However, it's up to you if you consider whether they're doing enough for you.

Things to look out for with employment agencies

Efficiency, and ease of working with employment agencies, is a must. You do not need someone who can't be contacted reliably, or doesn't seem too interested. Nobody's entitled to say they're 'too busy' to do what you're paying them to do.

Job placements are another good indicator of the competence or otherwise of an employment agency. If you're getting good jobs, OK. If you're getting substandard, low paying, jobs, and it looks like they're not paying attention to your needs, it's not OK. You don't have to put up with shoddy service.

The time factor is another indicator. If you've been with them for a while, like a few months, and nothing has been happening, what are you paying them for? This is wasting time, it's expensive, and it's achieving nothing.

Don't settle for non-delivery. If they don't deliver, find someone who does.


The bottom line is to get value from an agency. They're not doing you a favor, they're doing business, and so are you. Some fees can be in the thousands, and there's no shortage of examples of very unhappy, infuriated, clients.

A few points about fees:

  • Be realistic. Is it really worth spending for an unknown standard of service?
  • Get a commitment to what services are being provided. They should tell you what they'll do, when they'll do it, and what results can be expected.
  • Be reasonable. If it's obvious they are trying to provide service, and you've been getting a decent level of contact about your employment, good. A lot don't, and you may have found a worthwhile agency.
  • Don't expect miracles, but don't get complacent, either. Don't stop looking yourself, on the theory that they can find a job you can't. They have more contacts, it's their form of canvassing, but jobs need finding, whoever's looking.

Employment agencies are worth considering, but before you sign anything:

  • Shop around, compare prices, compare services and contracts.
  • Check with anyone who's used any agency, see if they're good enough.
  • Make sure you can afford their service.
  • Don't pay any attention to sales spiel about how great they are. Stick to the bottom line.
  • Make it politely clear that you're 'hoping' for some good results.
  • Don't be a doormat. What you're getting is either good enough or not.
  • Remember that this is your life, your career, and you're paying.

The fewer people creating extra difficulties, the better, for the job hunter.

Those who aren't finding the solution really are part of the problem.