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There are two sides to every tale when it comes to work. “Good help is hard to find,” employers say, but job seekers add, “I can’t find a decent job out there.” Finding decent jobs and workers is difficult no matter which side of the coin you’re on. If you’re hiring, a single job posting may draw hundreds of applicants. Sifting through them to discover a suitable fit takes time. On the other side, a job seeker may feel as if he or she is sending resumes into the Internet’s black hole, never to hear back.

How can businesses and job hunters cut through the red tape of the hiring process? Many use an employment agency to alleviate the process. An employment agency is a firm hired by a company to help with its staffing needs. Employment agencies find people to fill all kinds of jobs, from temporary to full-time, in a number of career fields. Whether a company needs a nurse, an administrative assistant, a manager or a carpenter, an employment agency can find the right employee.

Both public and private employment agencies help place workers. In the United States, one of the major public employment agencies is the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration. This agency provides job-seeking services and tools for workers through online resources and a network of offices around the country. It promotes public and private sector jobs by linking to national and state job banks.

Private employment agencies also help place workers, particularly in the private sector. These employment agencies tend to specialize in one of three fields:

  • personnel placement services
  • staffing services, also known as temporary help services
  • executive search firms

All told, these companies put millions of people to work every day. In fact, in the temporary and contract industry, over two million people are employed by staffing companies every business day, and staffing companies hire 8.6 million temporary and contract employees every year.

To answer the question, ‘What is an employment agency?’ it is a company that supplies employers with temporary or permanent employees. They also provide opportunities for job seekers to find work. As the nature of work has changed, so has the job of an employment agency. It began as a site where competent people were sent to find work, but it is now a place where corporations can recruit their personnel when their services are in great demand.

An employment agency provides temporary, contract and permanent staff to businesses. Employment agencies work with both employers and prospective employees to find the right match for each other. The agency takes on some of the time-consuming aspects of employing staff, including advertising jobs, screening candidates, setting up interviews and helping with payroll. The agency then charges employers a fee for their services, paying the employee directly from this fee.

Here are a few ways you can use an employment agency to help your career prospects:

1. Get CV advice

Receiving CV guidance from employment agencies can help individuals looking to find employment. A company that provides CV guidance can help you write a CV that helps you to secure interviews with potential employers. The process begins with gathering information about what qualifications and experience you have. They then assist you in writing a CV that highlights your skills and abilities so that employers want to interview you.

2. Access interview tips

Employment agencies can help you get ready for an interview. They have many years of experience and they often have several tips to share. For example, they may be able to recommend what type of interview outfit would be appropriate for your particular profession. They may also know that a particular interviewer is more likely to ask certain questions, so they can give you some tips on how to prepare for them.

3. Use constructive feedback

If you’re using an employment agency, you can ask for feedback on how well you did in the interview and what areas of your performance require improvement. An employment agency is an ideal place to get feedback on your professional employment because they have access to your application materials and information from businesses about their ideal candidates. You can use constructive feedback from the employment agency to improve your skills and improve your confidence. This helps you understand how to adjust your application to achieve your specific goals.

4. Access more opportunities

Employment agencies provide access to more opportunities than you could find on your own. They have connections with businesses in several industries and they can help you start in your new career quickly. Employment agencies work with employers to place employees who have specific skills and experience. If you have a particular skill set that’s in high demand, an employment agency can match you with the right job. The agency also makes sure that the employer offers fair pay, benefits and working conditions.

5. Get better matches for roles

Employment agencies can provide a better match for your role than you could get on your own. When you use an employment agency, they find out about your career goals, preferences and what kind of company culture you’re wanting from an organization. They then work with companies looking for someone with your skill set and find out if you’re a good fit for their organization.

Read Also: How to Apply For a Job in an Agency?

They have access to a large database of jobs in many different sectors and industries, so they can help you find something that fits your skill set and personality better than if you were just searching online yourself.

6. Access a variety of roles

Employment agencies provide access to a range of roles you might not have considered. They can help you find work in industries and jobs that match your skill set but vary from your previous experience. You can also use agencies to get an idea of the salary range for the type of jobs that interest you or jobs that align with your desired pay bracket. The process can show you what other transferable skills you have that can easily relate to other roles within their database.

7. Access extra training

If you’re currently working and want to enhance your skills, an employment agency can help you get that extra training. This could include courses related to your current job title or completely unrelated ones if you want to try out something new. You can learn new skills such as leadership, presentation techniques, project management and how to successfully communicate with colleagues. Some agencies even provide access to free online courses for those who cannot afford tuition fees for formal courses.

Here are three tips for joining an employment agency:

1. Send your CV

If you’re looking to join an employment agency, the first step is to send them a copy of your CV. Your CV is a document that lists all of your relevant qualifications, education and work experience. It also includes personal information like your contact information and your hobbies.

Providing a CV allows the agency to start determining which roles you’re eligible for and decide if you’re a good match for the agency. After sending in your CV, it may take a few days for the agency to review it before getting back to you with an offer to work with you. Some agencies process a large number of applications, so try following up if you don’t hear back.

2. Arrange an informal interview

After submitting your CV for the agency’s team to review, arrange an informal interview with the agency. An informal interview provides you with information about their services and allows them to further assess your skills. They may reach out to you or you contact the company directly through their website or by phone. The hiring manager or recruiter then sets up a time for you to come in and meet with them in person. When you arrive at the office, ask questions about the company’s policies and procedures before signing up for any services.

3. Take a skills test

A skills test is a way to verify that you have the necessary knowledge and experience for employment by a specific company or, in some cases, to work in a particular industry. The agency may conduct the skills test but some employers do it themselves. Not all agencies or employers do them. The agency sends the result of the skills test to the hiring company so they can make an informed decision about whether or not you have the right qualifications and experience for the position.

To take a skills test, you register with one of the agencies. Once you’ve signed up, you can then schedule a time for your test with one of their partner companies and bring any necessary documents for admission with you on that day. The test assesses your knowledge and skill set in specific areas such as software and hardware for an IT position.

Why Use an Employment Agency?

Sometimes—it depends on how they’re structured. Some employment agencies are paid by the employer. Other agencies are paid by the job-seeker. This could involve an upfront fee or (more likely) a percentage of the salary you land in your new job.

Generally speaking, it’s more common for employers to foot the bill. This is in part because job-seekers are (understandably) hesitant to pay fees. While there are perfectly reputable agencies that charge fees, many people balk at the thought of paying out hundreds or thousands of dollars to get a job. There are also plenty of scams aimed at desperate job-seekers, so it can be hard to know if an agency is legitimate. If you’re considering an employment agency that requires a fee or commission, it’s a good idea to research them thoroughly. A good place to start is the Better Business Bureau.

Simply put, you’re paying for the assistance of someone in the know. Employment agencies work directly with employers and often have a better idea of exactly what they’re looking for. They may also know of positions that you’d be unlikely to hear about on your own.

Agencies can also help you be a better candidate. They want you to get the job—that’s how they get paid. So, they’ll often (but not always) offer personal assistance, whether that’s giving you resume advice or prepping you for the big interview.

The potential for fees or commissions tops the list. If you pay a fee for placement and end up unhappy in your new position, quitting may mean losing money overall. Other drawbacks can result from a lack of clear communication with your agency.

For instance, if they’re submitting applications on your behalf without telling you beforehand, you could accidentally send your own application to the same business, which would look unprofessional. Or, if you let on that you’re desperate for work, it’s possible the agency may just focus on getting you a job fast and not work as hard to find the best position (or negotiate the best salary) for you.

What about a recruiter?

Recruiters (also called “headhunters”) will often find you first, especially since websites like LinkedIn have made it easier to search for candidates. However, you can reach out to recruiters as well. In particular, if you’re highly qualified and are looking for work in a field with high demand, odds are there are recruiters that would be interested in you.

While you can reach out to a recruiter, you don’t sign up for a recruiting agency like you would an employment or temp agency. Recruiters are hired by employers and are tasked with finding the best candidate possible. While they may be excited to see your resume—and may recruit you—that’s typically the totality of their relationship with you. They’re interested in filling specific jobs, not with helping you grow and develop. It’s unlikely they’re going to give you feedback or assist you with finding a job in general.

Final Words

Private employment agencies do charge fees for their services. Usually, the hiring company pays the agency, but sometimes job seekers pay recruiters to find opportunities for them. If you’re a job seeker who’s paying for employment services, use a certified recruiter who will keep your best interests in mind. A reliable agency can’t guarantee that you get a job, but it’ll work to help you find the position that’s best for you.

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