What's your Problem?

What's the best way to deal with recruitment consultants?

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Q: Is there a knack to handling recruitment consultants? I recently applied for a job and was immediately called on the telephone by one agency, who seemed to be really enthusiastic. They met me the next day and told me how great they thought I was and that they would put me up for interview, but then never got back in touch. It's my first experience of using an agency - is this normal behaviour?

A: From what I hear, your experience isn't exactly normal, but it's not all that unusual either. There seem to be some recruitment consultants who work a bit like those fabled vultures, the ambulance chasers. Uninvited, they latch on to job applicants and promise a lot. Sometimes they deliver - and sometimes they don't.

The ones to watch out for are those who suggest that you pay them a little something upfront. A favourite ploy seems to be to praise people's credentials to the skies then tell them that the only thing that's holding them back is their deeply unprofessional CV. Fortunately, the recruitment consultant just happens to have a team of professional CV writers with an astonishing record of success behind them - and this team will very kindly undertake to rewrite your CV for a surprisingly modest advance payment. Don't fall for it.

I find anyone who systematically cons vulnerable and impecunious job-hunters out of money particularly despicable. So keep on the alert. But don't judge all recruitment consultants by the standards of these petty thieves. There are a lot of good and honest ones, and they can be extremely valuable.

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