Consulting the consultants.


In line with my new “no stone unturned” policy I decided last week to visit a couple of recruitment agencies. I don’t know why (perhaps I’m about to find out) but I’ve always regarded recruitment consultants with a degree of cynicism. I’ve never used one before so perhaps it’s entirely unjustified, but there it is. However logic dictates that they must operate with some success, otherwise how would they get paid? So in the spirit of nothing ventured I walked though a door I’d passed a thousand times in the high street and climbed the stairs to the second floor offices of the larger of the two agencies in town (I never trust lifts in old seventies office blocks).

The offices are bright and modern if a little red furniture eighties, and I’m greeted by a nice young lady as I puff through the door who guides me to a reception area of easy chairs and a coffee table. We chat for 10 minutes and I run through my position and explain that I’m probably looking for something like car sales or estate agency type positions but am very open to any suggestions. She asks me if I have my CV? I do but it’s on a memory stick and they can’t use it from there, threat of viruses or some such. She asks if I’ll email it to Anna, one of their staff who deals with placing potential employees and gives me an email address. I promise they’ll have it by tomorrow and we shake hands as I take my leave.

That didn’t seem too bad so I head on up to the other end of the high street where another agency ply their trade. This operation operate out of a shop style premises with lots of job cards in the window advertising positions for cooks and cleaners. I head in and am greeted by a young lady at a desk toward the back. Again I give a precede version of my life story and a rough idea of what I’m looking for. She seeks the advice of an older chap to her right who’s lounging back in his chair, one step removed from putting his feet on the desk. He doesn’t seem very interested in getting involved and again, clearly fearing that I’m an international IT terrorist, she asks me to email my CV to them and furnishes me with an appropriate address.

I head home with nothing achieved but at least a couple of contacts and that evening I compose seperate (but identical) emails to both setting out again my situation and goals, suggesting that I’m looking mainly at car sales or estate agency type positions but will consider anything similar that’s sales based and enclosing my CV and resume.

The very next morning, before 9am even, my mobile phone jangles with an incoming call. It’s Anna from the first recruitment agency and she’s very keen to talk. She thinks she can do things for me, good things, and she runs through what amounts to a telephone interview before promising to get right on it and come straight back to me.

Later that morning an email from the other agency pings into my in box thanking me for my prompt response and again promising to get right on to finding me a good “oppertunity” (SIC). The typo and lack of a basic spell check doesn’t fill me with confidence, nor does a further email suggesting I might like to consider a position as a door to door hospice lottery sales rep. For “immidiate” start mind. I politely suggest that I’ll think about that one and am promised she will research other roles and will update me soonest. And that was the last I heard from her.

Anna seemed much more promising though. At least until I spot a fresh car sales job advertised by her company on an on line job site two days later. I ping her an email respectfully suggesting that perhaps I might be considered for this? She writes back saying she’d not realised I was interested in car sales…

I assured her I was most very definitely interested, copying the original email that I’d sent her two days earlier stating that I was most very definitely interested in car sales. She wrote back asking if I could call in to see her to register so that she could start promoting me to employers. Slightly bemused by this (I thought that was what she was already doing) I arranged an appointment that afternoon and even had a shave first!

Anna turned out to be a pleasant sort, a late twenties/early thirties Bridget Jones type. Friendly and personable, we got on well and had a good chat about my situation, my job history, potential positions etc. I left her in no doubt that I was very open minded (this side of traipsing around dodgy housing estates trying to flog lottery tickets door to door on commission) and would be keen to hear any suggestions.

And that was the last I heard from her, bar a non committal response to a follow up email I sent this week.

Today I’ve written to two on line recruitment agencies that specialise in motor trade placements and both of whom are advertising several local car dealership sales positions. It’ll be interesting to see if I fare any better with those but so far I’m not holding my breath.

Maybe my earlier misgivings were perhaps not quite as unfounded as I’d thought…


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3 Responses to “Consulting the consultants.”

  1. mizzbiz Says:

    Ah agencies – have been the bane of my life during unemployment. One agency, who I was registered with and working for tried everything in their power to dissuade me from applying for a position they were advertising that was perfect for me. They were very shady about it for some unknown reason. I can only conclude that either a) as it was in the IT sector and she was earning commission on Office Support that she didn’t want someone else to earn from me or b) the job didn’t exist in the first place and was designed to attract new registrees rather than current candidates.

    I tried to register with another, describing what I was looking for, and they wrote back saying thanks but we don’t deal with that kind of job, if something comes up we’ll bear you in mind. Sadly I had sent off my CV in response to an advert on their website for ‘that kind of job’.

    Good luck though Charlie – if they happen to be looking for exactly you you’ll be treated like royalty.

  2. Kevlarhead Says:

    If you’ve got the skills they want, agencies actually tend to sit up and take notice. Otherwise they’ll treat you like you came into their office stuck to someone’s shoe. The key problem with them is that they all serve different markets, and unless you know which ones are which you can end up wasting time chasing an unsuitable agency.

    Incidentally, if you’ve got a phone with email capability, try storing your CV on it and emailing from the phone to the agency when you’re standing in branch. Cuts down time wasted, ensures they get an electronic, searchable copy ASAP and also makes you look like some kind of tech-genius to the more knuckle-headed members of staff.

    The second agency with the uninterested staff, bad spelling and dire job matching; was it Kelly Services?

  3. clare Says:

    I personally, have had zero experience of job agencies but son has.
    The bit I don’t understand is how the recruitment staff are seen as ‘Sales’ people rather than someone who provides a service; To match up right applicant with right job.

    I have never recruited for our business via an agency either.
    Interesting to see how this route works out for you. Son got some OK holiday jobs from agencies but is not having much luck with ‘Graduate’ recruitment type places at the moment.

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