On-line Job Search Guide
Employment agencies are another excellent job search resource. Agencies come in a variety of sizes and shapes. They may be private, public or government - profit or nonprofit. Some specialize in service to specific groups of people and have eligibility requirements. Others serve the general public. The job seeker may be the primary customer, but it may also be the employer. Many agencies focus on serving the employer by providing qualified applicants while others focus on the applicant by helping them find quality jobs. All these factors will influence the service that a job seeker can expect to receive.
The types of services offered will also vary. Here is a description of some common services:
Placement Assistance - Many employers list their job leads with agencies. The agency then recruits, screens and refers qualified applicants to the employer for consideration. The amount of screening will vary. Some will only refer the most qualified while others will post the position on a bulletin board and the applicant may self refer.
Job seekers working with employment agencies should be wise consumers. It is important to know exactly what services you can expect and what will be expected of you. You should also find out what it will cost. Some fee agencies will charge the employer while others collect fees from the job seeker. Here are some additional tips:
Temporary and Contract Placement - More employers are turning to temporary and contact agencies to meet their labor needs. Some employers use this as a way to try new employees before they make a decision on permanent employment. Others have a short term need that is best met through this service. Temporary jobs can work into permanent employment and are a way to build skills and meet financial needs while looking for other opportunities.
Job Search Assistance - Teaching job search skills so that people can successfully find their own jobs is a valuable service. This may include workshops and materials on a variety of job search topics. A subset to this is agencies specializing in resume writing. Usually for a fee, they will help people draft their resume.
Career Planning Assistance - Choosing a career is a big task that requires self assessment, a knowledge of employment trends and training opportunities. Career counselors/advisors can help in this effort. They usually offer aptitude, interest and skill testing and work with people to match their potential to employment opportunities.
- In all dealings, treat agencies as you would a potential employer. In the case of temporary and contract agencies they are employers. From the others you will receive better service if you follow this advice.
- Use the services of agencies but do not make them your primary job search tool or use them exclusively. Take ownership of your career and your job search. Don't think that since you have an agency working for you that you can sit back and wait.
- Know exactly what you can expect from the agency. Consider who is their primary customer. The type of service you receive will be influenced by whether the primary customer is the employer or the job seeker. If the primary customer is the employer then it is especially important to sell the agency on your skills and qualifications.
- Consider what is the primary business of the agency. The service they provide may be influenced by a need to support a larger goal. Post-high school training institutions providing career counseling are an excellent example. Their career counselors may not only be working to guide your career exploration but may also be driven to sell their training programs.
- Know exactly what the agency will expect from you. Some placement, temporary and contract agencies expect an exclusive relationship. They limit your ability to seek employment on your own. Most agencies expect you to make yourself available. If you turn down more than a couple of opportunities they may not be as quick to consider you for future opportunities.
- If you are receiving government assistance, such as Reemployment Insurance Benefits (Unemployment Insurance), know the effect of short-term wages and the consequences of turning down job opportunities. Short-term wages may affect eligibility and benefit amounts. However, they may also extend the length of time that benefits can be received. Contact your local provider for clarification before accepting or rejecting a specific opportunity.
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This page was last updated on April 17, 1997
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