Are Recruitment Agencies Good or Bad for Job-Seekers


Despite the many difficulties and general frustration that comes with the experience of looking for employment, many job-seekers still do not contract the services of recruitment agencies. Regardless of agency track records, there seem to be an apparent lack of confidence on how these recruitment agencies can help chances of getting a good job.

Or perhaps a lack of understanding.

Recruitment agencies are varyingly referred to as "headhunters," "search consultants," or "sourcers" depending on how they work and are paid. There are of course, internal or in-house corporate recruiters which are contractors of a company that source and recruit for full-time employee positions and are paid with regular salaries and benefits just like any unit or employee of the company. Since they are relatively stable, have longer, even permanent tenures and do not rely on commissions for pay, they are also less aggressive and do not provide additional services for applicants.

In Singapore, external recruitment agencies on the other hand include the following types. Contingency-based recruitment firms work with client companies and find suitable candidates based on company's requirements. They are paid from the client's initial salaries or pay checks. Retained search agencies on the other hand also find suitable clients for a company's need but work senior level positions like corporate executive officer (CEO) positions and are therefore paid retainer's fee. Temp agencies hire employees or candidates to fill temporary positions in a company or organization and are paid by the companies at hourly rate for the candidate it hires. In turn, the temp agency takes their cut accordingly after directly paying the candidate's wages, insurance and benefits.

Regardless of type however, these Singaporean recruitment agencies are generally beneficial to both employer and potential employee. For companies, recruitment agencies reduce operational cost by out-sourcing basic functions like recruitment to external entities which in turn reduces need for office staff and cost of basic staff benefits. Since external agencies are aggressive, they also speed-up the filling up of manpower needs. For job seekers, recruitment agencies help establish good relationships with companies due to their track record and familiarity. Since most recruitment agencies work with various companies or industries, they have enormous network and provide job seekers extensive options and wider chances for employment since these firms have information on jobs that are not publicly announced. Professional headhunters in Singapore also have a through grasp of exact standards and consideration of the companies and therefore help companies find the right person and help applicants find the right job. Some Singapore recruitment outfits even offer services like resume and letter writing, professional interview tutorials and career path counselling which help job-seekers extend their potentials to get hired.

The drawbacks of hiring recruitment agencies however include the following. For companies, since most of the recruitment process is conducted by an internal institution, they are often removed from the selection and therefore do not intensively know the applicants. Recruitment agencies are also unable to introduce a potential employee to the culture of the company. For job-seekers, the immediate disadvantage of recruitment agencies is in the pay cut. Although there are cases when and where headhunters are paid by the employer, most recruitment agencies require a fee from the candidate usually a percentage of the employee's pay for a specified amount of time. For the employee, this simply means less pay, usually 10-30% of the annual salary, than someone who found the position without contracting a recruitment agency.