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Why Graduates Shouldn't be Afraid of Recruitment Agencies but nor Should They Expect too Much

06/02/2014 13:43 GMT | Updated 08/04/2014 10:59 BST

With these increased pressures and difficulty in ensuring a graduate job, more people are turning to recruitment agencies for help. Whatuni's Luke Harper, wrote for the Independent warning Students to be cautious when using recruitment and graduate recruitment agencies in their job hunt.

The article's main argument against graduate recruitment agencies is that they are looking to sign people up to the agency and harvest data, without having any real intention to personally find them a job. Harper highlights such issues as receiving 'mass impersonal emails', 'key word searching' jobs for him without any attention or receiving 'irrelevant roles'.

The fundamental problem with this approach is a basic misunderstanding of how the recruitment sector works. One of the more common ways is that recruitment agencies aim to find you a job to secure a fee from their clients. Recruitment agencies operate as a business, not a careers service and are not expected to find you a job while you wait around. This appears to be misunderstood because it is not acknowledged that they operate to fulfil the roles they source from clients, not find jobs for graduates like a local Job Centre.

Recruitment and the recruitment sector is then generalised by the article and its insistence that after recruitment agencies have fraudulently acquired some email addresses that they would proceed to put them forward for unsuitable roles. It is suggested that this is almost common practice across the industry, although it is acknowledged that it could be detrimental to the reputation of some agencies. The absence of any notion of rouge agencies gives an entirely unfair portrayal of the industry.

There is no denying that amongst the recruitment agencies, from your large international firms to your small high street based firms, there are some CV hungry, cut and shut agencies that are uninterested in the candidates they have on their books. However, nowadays these are in the minority and don't tend to last very long.

Paul Farrer, Chief Executive of Phee Farrar Jones, a leading recruitment agency is worried that a few bad apples are tarnishing the reputation of what is an excellent sector. Farrer said 'The trouble with such an imbalanced and misleading article is that some graduates may now be put off approaching recruitment agencies who may well be able to help them. At The Graduate Recruitment Company we speak to every applicant we can help prior to meeting them for a face to face interview.'

Professionals in the industry are wary of how some of the less respectable agencies operate. Earnest recruiters believe that graduates should be aware that some of these agencies will take on graduates for all their details rather than helping them find a job, like Harper mentioned. To combat this, Farrar advises that 'Graduates should have a simple checklist before proceeding with any agency. Has the agency taken the time to talk to me? Have they invited me to a face to face meeting? Have they guaranteed not to forward my CV to any employer without my permission? These three steps will safeguard every application.'

Farrer also pointed out that that is not the only safety net that graduates can rely on. He said 'Graduates can also check to see if the agency are members of either APSCo or the REC the two trade bodies they can make an official complaint to. The vast majority of recruitment agencies are professional organisations that help place thousands of graduates every year and poorly researched articles help no one.'