Questions to Ask Before Working With an Employment Agency

ID-100287287Employment agencies can be an excellent way to connect to potential employers.  Through an agency, you can access opportunities that you may never be able to get on your own.  However, whenever you have a third-party involved in your job search, there is always a risk that they may not have your best interests at heart.  Here are some questions that you should always ask before signing up with an agency:

How much will it cost me to work with you?

As a job seeker, you should never have to pay to get a job or to be connected to an employer.  Any fees should be paid by the employer and may be a percentage of your salary.  If an agency asks you for a placement fee, consulting fee, training fee, or for payment in any form, just get up and walk away because it is likely a scam.

What industry do you specialize in?

Most agencies specialize in a particular industry such as health care, marketing, or banking.  The types of positions that the agency is able to offer you will largely depend on the employers that are working with that agency.  Ask them about their areas of specialization and see if it is a good match for your skills and interests.

What type of position can I expect to get?

Since recruiters are working directly with employers, they can provide  you with an excellent perspective on what type of position you should be targeting.  If the recruiter tells you that you need to be targeting more of an entry-level position, take it under consideration.  Even if you decide to work with a different recruiter, it may be a sign that you need to upgrade your skills.

Should I be regularly following up with my recruiter?

It is important that you have a strong understanding of the procedures at the agency.  You don’t want to be waiting by the phone for a few weeks only to discover that the recruiter was waiting for you to contact them.  Ask them what you should be doing to make this relationship work.

Is it possible for temporary jobs to lead to full-time positions?

Since most job seekers are ultimately looking for a full-time position, it is important that you understand the requirements.  Some agencies encourage the company to hire you on full-time, while others may require the company to sign a contract indicating that they will not hire you for at least a year after you complete your placement.  It’s good to know this ahead of time so that you can decide if the agency’s rules work for you.

It is best to think of recruiters as just another tool in your job search strategy.  They can link you to employers, but you shouldn’t be handing over the reins of your job search.  As a savvy job seeker, you should happily let others help, but know that at the end of the day, you decide which agency or job is best for you.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles at

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