Recruitment Agencies

Many companies use recruitment agencies and online jobsites as a primary source of potential candidates. Using agencies effectively can give you access to job vacancies which may not be advertised elsewhere. There are many things to consider when selecting and using recruitment agencies which can help you to make the most of the services they provide.

How do recruitment agencies work?

Agencies work on behalf of employers to advertise job vacancies, assess applications, shortlist suitable candidates and conduct initial interviews. Organisations pay the recruitment agency a fee for the service they provide. An agency should never charge you, the candidate, a fee.

Why do employers use recruitment agencies?

An organisation may use an agency because they do not have the staff resources to deal with a recruitment search internally; or if a company wants to hire for a specialist role, it may not have staff with the relevant expertise to assess candidates effectively.

Many large companies, including public sector organisations, outsource their recruitment to a preferred recruitment agency. For smaller organisations, which do not have structured recruitment schemes or human resources departments, agencies can save time and money.

Working with recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies can help to match your skills, experience and work interests with suitable job opportunities. If you establish a good relationship with your recruitment consultant they will seek to place you in roles that will work well for you and their client.

Recruitment agencies benefit from having candidates who they can trust. Good consultants will be keen to find out what you have to offer and what you are hoping for so that they can make strong matches.

Different types of recruitment agencies

There are many different types of recruitment businesses. It is important that you know which will be most appropriate to your needs.

Temporary contract agencies or employment businesses

Also known as 'temp', contract or staffing agencies, find you temporary employment within another organisation and they pay your wages. Some may specialise in finding very short term positions whilst others may offer longer term contracts. Many recruitment companies have separate divisions to deal with permanent and temporary contracts. Some agencies will be based in offices 'on site' with major employers. 

Employment agencies

Recruitment consultants work to find you a position with an employer who pays a fee for the service.

Sector specific agencies

Many recruitment agencies specialise in vacancies within a particular sector such as engineering, IT, finance and marketing.

Head hunters or executive search agencies

Head hunters work for specific companies and seek out high calibre employees for them, often from their competitor companies or organisations.

Selecting recruitment agencies

Like all aspects of job hunting, working with recruitment agencies requires careful planning and preparation. Researching what different agencies have to offer and thinking carefully about the type of agency that is most likely to have positions that interest you are important steps to take prior to making any approach. You want to make sure that the agency you work with is legitimate, with a good reputation and vacancies to match.

How to find an agency

  • Recommendations from friends and family

This is a particularly helpful method as you can get a detailed account of another person’s experience of working with them. 

  • Internet searches

You may find internet searches especially useful for identifying specialist agencies.


This electronic telephone directory can be a quick way to find local agencies in the Netherlands.

  • Contacting companies directly

If you want to work for a particular company or in a particular sector you need to find out which recruitment agencies are dealing with the vacancies you want. Look at existing vacancies on recruitment agencies’ websites.

Before you approach an agency

Before approaching a recruitment agency you will want to think through what you hope to gain, and how to make that happen. You may want to consider the following:

  • What are you hoping for?

To make a positive impression it is advisable to have some idea of the type of employment you want them to find for you e.g. the type of role you would like, the sector you want to work in and an expected salary range.

If you have a clear understanding of what you want, and can articulate it to the recruitment consultant, they should find it easier to match you with appropriate positions. If they do not have opportunities that suit your skills and preferences, you can clarify this early on and start looking for alternative agencies better placed to help you. 

  • Is your CV in good shape?

Your CV should highlight your strengths and be up to date. Checkout the Toolkit section on CV’s.

  • What makes you a strong candidate?

When you first meet with the recruitment agency you want to make a good impression. You should treat it like an interview with a potential employer. Think carefully about what you have to offer and be ready to promote your skills and abilities.

Registering with a recruitment agency

Registering with a recruitment agency usually involves filling out an online form, sending an email or making a telephone call initially. The agency should give instructions about how to register on their website. Next they may want to conduct a telephone interview or may invite you to complete the registration in person at their office.

Some agencies have offices which you can walk in to, but it is always better to telephone in advance to make an appointment. Then you will be guaranteed some quality time with a recruitment consultant to discuss what you need.

What will I need to take with me?

For legal reasons you will need to satisfy certain regulations when you enrol with an agency. Some things that are likely to be required are listed below.

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of training and qualifications
  • References
  • Work visa

What will happen when I meet with them?

The recruitment consultant will want to discuss your skills and experiences and the type of work you are looking for.

Even if they ask you in for an ‘informal chat’, view it as you would an interview with a prospective employer. Dress smartly, arrive early and be prepared to complete any tests.

What should I gain from the meeting?

A face to face meeting will enable you to articulate your work motivations, explain in detail the type of work you are looking for and ask questions about the agency.

You may want to ask the recruitment consultant:

  • How often will they contact you?
  • Will they notify you before sending out your CV to a potential employer?
  • Do they have jobs that they think are suited to your skills and experiences?
  • What is the average time they take to place a candidate in employment?