With graduation season upon us, recruiters start to hear from friends and acquaintances about helping soon-to-be college grads with their job searches. Here are some FAQs for those ready to start adulting who may be wondering how staffing firms and the world of recruiting works.
1. Can an agency even help me?
Contrary to popular opinion, no experience doesn’t mean no chance. Most recent grads have enough internship, club or project experience to win them a job. And when they don’t, they likely have transferable skills from waiting tables or working summer camps. They just need someone to speak on their behalf, and that is what an agency can do.
There are many opportunities for work, including temporary, permanent and temp-to-perm roles. Some job seekers are wary of temp positions but taking a chance with the right temporary role can be an effective job search strategy for recent grads. Temporary employment is simply a means to an end; a way for both the employer and employee to feel each other out and make sure it will be a fit for the long term.
2. Why would a company even use an agency to find a recent grad?
Companies that are serious about finding talent fast will often elicit the help of a staffing firm. Even companies with robust recruiting teams know they can’t screen and vet all the candidates, especially if they are in high-growth mode. They rely on trusted agencies to do the heavy lifting. When it’s time to interview someone referred from their agency partner, they trust the screening and vetting process that went into the referral and may be more likely to make the hire.
3. Okay, what’s this going to cost me?
When meeting with job seekers, I’m often asked about how the payment structure works – who pays whom? The hiring company pays the agency a fee, which is a percentage of your salary. You know a company is serious about finding good talent when they are willing to pay a premium to fill the role. It’s important to understand the financial implications and how that plays into the hiring process. Recruiting agencies are just that, the agent. They represent the hiring company and help them find and acquire the best talent. They are also your agent, looking to find you the best job and secure you the best possible compensation.
4. What if I don’t like what they have to offer?
Recruiters will approach you with a variety of opportunities, and it’s your job to honestly and seriously vet them. No one can make you do something you don’t want to. If you don’t like the job, company, commute, pay, people or culture, then you probably shouldn’t even take the interview. Yes, you should be open, flexible and sometimes willing to interview just for the practice – but if you can’t honestly see yourself working there, don’t waste anyone’s time (including your own!). If your recruiter doesn’t respect that, then you probably shouldn’t be working with them.
5. How can I improve my odds of success?
Oh boy, this is where I get all paternal and preachy. Don’t make the mistake of not putting your best self in front of your recruiter. Treat your recruiter like the hiring manager you are trying to get a job with. If your recruiter finds you courteous, responsive, professional and personable, they are going to call their best clients and demand that they meet with you. I can’t tell you the number of people who found amazing jobs because their recruiter believed in them.
6. What’s the single most important thing I need to know
Whether you are working with an agency or searching on your own, the most important thing a recent graduate can do is take the long view. No one knows where they will be in five years. I’ve been recruiting longer than you have been alive and I don’t even know where I will be in five years. But I do know that everything I do is a building block for my future. Your first job probably won’t be your dream job, mainly because you don’t know what that is. But if this job will give you practical experience that could help you land a position more in line with what you think you want to do – then consider it. Taking an entry-level job at an exciting company with a great culture, amazing people and opportunity for growth is never a bad thing to consider.
I advise recent grads to absolutely consider using an agency as part of their overall job search strategy. Ask around about different agencies, get a referral to a trusted recruiter, read their LinkedIn profile and see if you like them on the phone. A really good recruiter-candidate partnership can last a long time and will be beneficial to you both.
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