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Looking for a new job can be stressful.   It helps to have assistance from professionals who can guide you based on the current local job market, your qualifications and type of position you seek.

But what types of professionals would be helpful to you?  Headhunters, employment agencies, recruiters and temporary agencies all have advantages specific to their specialties.  Going to the wrong type of firm could cost you a great deal of time, money and frustration.  We can help!

Tips on job placement assistance

Employment Agencies

Employment agencies assist you in job placement.  They are paid either by the job seeker or the employer.  Some of them offer opportunities for short-term contract work that may or may not turn into full time employment and/or they may have temporary placement services and permanent positions available.

Types of employment agencies

Contingency Employment Agency 

This agency is paid when a candidate they recruited is hired by an employer.  They usually send multiple resumes to the employer for consideration to begin an interview process.  These firms focus on low- to mid-level positions.

Retained Search Firm

This agency has an exclusive relationship with an employer.  The agency is usually paid expenses, a fee and/or a percentage of the candidate's potential salary regardless if the candidate is hired.  These firms generally focus on senior-level, executive positions.

Temporary Agency

This agency locates employees for temporary positions that may or may not result in a permanent job.  They offer short- or long-term assignments.  Often, they are paid a fee and a portion of the salary.  Their screening process usually includes interviews and testing to ensure the candidate is qualified for the positions available.

Recruiter or Headhunter

This is the individual you'll work with in order to locate a position.  Often a headhunter may reach out to you in an effort to gain you as a client.  Sometimes, you may respond to the headhunter or recruiter, retained by a local employer, who has advertised a position the employer seeks qualified applicants to fill.  

The recruiter or headhunter usually has the same characteristics as a salesperson or broker.  They are matching employees with local companies in an effort to obtain a commission from the fee one or both provides for their firm's services.  It's important to understand his/her motives before your business relationship begins.  They are motivated people and as such can be very helpful in matching you with an employer.  Just make sure you do your homework and understand all aspects of the transaction, offer, compensation package and any legal agreements that may affect you.

When to contact a recruiter 

If your current methods of applying for positions that meet your qualifications are not successful it may help to enlist a recruiter.  Make sure you interview the recruiter since it's a mutually beneficial relationship.  There are many agencies out there and some may have more extensive relationships with organizations for which you have an interest.

You may also speak with a recruiter with an employment agency who is a "gate keeper" for an employer for which you would like to be employed.  This will be the first step in the application process.

Things to know:

  • Be completely clear about any fees that are your responsibility at the time of the service after you are hired or following a period of time into your employment tenure.
  • Be aware of any probationary periods with the firm or company of which you are hired.  Understand what it means and how it impacts your offer, pay or benefits.
  • Make sure you select a headhunter or recruiter with a reputable agency who has an extensive background working with good employers.  The headhunter should have good communication skills, experience and demonstrate ambitious methods to locating a job for you.  He/she should be as interested in helping you as much as assisting employers with locating qualified candidates.
  • Ask for general information related to the contract terms with the companies for which the firm is recruiting.  You should know who will be paying your paycheck and who will employ you.  Ask: Who is paying the firm for locating employees?   How long have they recruited for the company and how many employees have they placed with long-term success?  Have there been any complaints regarding the employer or position being offered?  Will you be an employee of the agency or the employer?  Will you be considered a contract employee (self-employed) or permanent employee?  Ask if the compensation package will be in writing and if it includes benefits such as 401K and health care.  
  • As always, research the company and recruitment firm independently as well.  Don't believe everything you hear on job review sites but look for common complaints and/or recommendations.
  • You should know if there is a fee if you don't remain with the company for any set period of time.  It isn't uncommon for a company who underpays its employees and has a number of difficult positions to fill to enlist a high-producing employment agency for help.  The agency then supplies unknowing employees to a high turn-over, underpaid position that formerly employees quit short after being hired.  In order to stop the high turn-over they may have the agency require you sign a contract that you will stay in this position for a certain period of time (surpassing the typical turn-over).  You could be in a terrible situation where you are contractually tied to a bad employer and position.  If you don't stay for that period of time, you may face some type of legal consequence (based on your contract) that may include but not limited to a monetary fee (usually the fee the company would have been responsible to pay the firm) that could be thousands of dollars. 


A recruiter with experience working for a reputable agency who has relationships with good employers seeking candidates with your qualifications may be extremely beneficial in locating your dream job.  Ask plenty of questions to make sure you understand the scope of the relationship and who pays for the recruiter and agency services. Ask for references of employees they have placed within the last 6 months. 

Any agreement or contract should be reviewed carefully before signing.  Don't feel pressured to sign anything immediately (ask if you can take the contract home and/or have a family attorney review it if you are unsure about anything in the agreement). 

Most offers of employment will also be in writing.  Make sure you understand your responsibilities and the details related to the offer, any fees, obligations and the nature of your employment and employment status (employee or self-employed).


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