10 Questions to Ask Before You Sign Up With an Agency

So you’re planning on signing up with a recruiter.  Agencies can be a great asset in your job search campaign, however, it’s important that you take the time to assess the agency to make sure that it’s a good fit.  These ten questions can help you determine if working with this agency is in your best interest, and can give you a good idea of what to expect.  Don’t be afraid to ask them questions; remember, without candidates recruiters have nothing to offer their clients.

1.  What do you need from me?  It’s important that you know exactly how this recruiter likes to work.  Do you need to revamp your resume?  Should you be waiting by the phone every morning at 8am?  Should you take some additional training?  If you are aware of the expectations ahead of time, it is more likely to be a successful partnership.

2.  What industries and positions do you mainly work with?  Agencies usually specialize in one particular area.  While they may still have other opportunities available, it is usually better to find an agency that works in your industry.

3.  How and how often should I follow up with you?  Recruiters are all different; some want you to follow up with them every day, while others want you to wait for their call.  Find out what the recruiter prefers so that you can work effectively with them, and you don’t annoy them.

4.  Based on my resume and our conversation, how would you rate my prospects?  Most recruiters will give you an accurate assessment of where you fit into the labour market.  It the recruiter tells you that you that there are few jobs for your target position and a great deal of competition, you may want to consider shifting your focus.

5.  What percentage of your positions are temporary and what percentage are permanent?  Some agencies mostly deal in temporary positions, while others offer both temporary and permanent jobs.  It’s a good idea to know what is available.  Although most job seekers are hoping for a permanent position, don’t be too quick to dismiss a temporary job; it may be an excellent opportunity to gain experience, close your employment gap, and make connections.

6.  What happens if the company that I am placed with wants to hire me on a full time basis?    Some agencies will actually prevent the company from hiring you on a full time basis.  If your goal is to get a full time job, you need to be aware of such a stipulation ahead of time.

7.  Will I have to pay any fees?  As a job seeker, you should not have to pay an agency any money to get a job.  This includes application fees, placement fees, and any other creative ways the agency can find to get your money.  If an agency asks you for money, leave immediately.  The standard practice is for the agency to be paid by the employer.

8.  What happens if I’m offered a position, but it’s not the right fit?  Can I turn it down?  What are the repercussions?  It’s best to know the rules before you actually find yourself in that situation.  You don’t want to feel pressured to accept a position that you know isn’t right for you.  Some recruiters are so focused on meeting their targets that they don’t really care if the position is a good fit.  Don’t forget that the recruiter is working for you; if they aren’t meeting your needs, find someone who does.

9.  How much can I expect to get paid for the positions that I qualify for?  Most agencies will be able to give you a range of what you can expect in terms of salary.  Do your own research to make sure that it is consistent with the market rate.

10.  Do you offer any training opportunities?  Some agencies offer opportunities to expand on relevant skills.  If the training is available, make use of it!

Working with an agency should only be one part of your job search strategy; you still need to be networking and identifying job leads on your own.  It’s good to get help, but never forget that you are in charge of your own job search.

(Written by Karen Bivand)

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