"Why would I meet with an agency that cannot send me on a client interview in the three weeks or so? Quite frankly I would think this would be a waste of my time."
There are a number of reasons why it makes sense to treat finding a new job as a project and to take your project extremely seriously.
Let's consider the time we all spend at work. What can be more important that your new position?
You may need to waste some time meeting a few useless recruiters to find a few gems, but this will be part of your project. Nothing is more important to you that being happy and secure at work when you are choosing your new job. So make sure you realise the value of the time you take away from the office.
Are you actually happy to work with an agency who is happy to send out your CV without meeting with you?
How much do they know about the client they are sending you to?
What is the financial stability of the client like?
What is the cultural environment like?
Would you want this agency to one-day recruit candidates for you?
You need to get some idea about what is happening in the market. A good recruiter will be able to supply you with this and this she or he will give you for free. So treat this time as research. In addition to this, an experienced recruiter should be able to give you career advice and let you know what pitfalls to look out for. If they have your interests at heart, they may even suggest to you to remain at your current company if now is not the time to move.
You need to be given an opportunity to “interview” the agents that you are going to choose to represent you. You would not want all recruiters representing your CV. Agents are agents for a reason – to make a ridiculous comparison in Hollywood agents represent people and there are some people you would not want representing you. There are some people that do not even understand finance. You need to select your recruiters with care.
I would recommend in the current market that you select at least 4 specialised agents. The firm is not what matters. It is the individual recruiter that counts. Typically it is better to go for someone who is specialised in in your area of expertise. You need to be able to trust the recruiter you meet with. They need to be credible. They need to be presentable, well spoken, knowledgeable and generally someone who you would want to represent you. They need to be the type of consultant that is only comfortable to represent a certain calibre of candidate. If they are not discerning – if they do not meet their candidates as a bare minimum – your CV will be thrown in with all the other CVs that they throw at clients.
If you have ever been at the receiving end of CVs then I imagine I do not need to discuss this point any further.
But the number one reason that you need to meet with agencies is because you need to have a discussion with them about what you want. Otherwise, you will waste your time going to client companies on incorrect interviews. There are certain things you can expect and in fact demand from all recruitment agents. The one is that you have a job description before you go to any client interview. The second is that you know exactly who you are going to meet with at the interview. How many people will be in the interview? The names of the people in the interview, their background and what the structure of the interview so there will be so there are no surprises at all. If there are going to be any tests be it psychometric or otherwise your agent should know about them and should warn you in advance. They should always know the exact interview process of each of their clients, not just the interview process, but the length of the decision-making process too. Further to this no recruitment company has right to send your CV to a company without your permission. No recruiter should ever ask you where your CV has been sent, or where else you have been interviewing. This information is entirely confidential and they are not acting in your interest. If they have ever asked you this question they are using you to look for vacant positions.
Having said all of the above please remember that agents like sharks need to be your friends – they are operating in a very difficult environment and the recruiters that are still operating are doing so because they actually do want to assist people there are other jobs that are more fun that they could be doing. You will get them on your side by being nice. In a sense, you need to operate in this world at your most charming not for our sake but for yours.
Finally and I was hoping not to end on a negative note but I have to: You need to meet with agents because it is going to take you a long time to find your new job. If you are currently not working we might be able to find you something quickly however if you are currently working it might take 6 months to find your new position. So get out there meet the correct agents and be patient.
Why is this when there appears to be so many adverts? Simply because so many companies are not negotiable on any of the requirements. If they are looking for a cost accountant with SAP and 7 years of experience from manufacturing. Sorry to say they will not look at mining or construction experience. They have been spoiled for choice with the excess of applicants in the market, but they are also running with such a small headcount that they cannot afford the time required to get staff up and running. They need the finished product.
I wish we remembered “CVs” but we don’t we remember people. I personally remember that someone told me about a cat he once had and he happens to also to also have exceptional projects experience. I remember people. I do not think an estate agent could sell a house by simply looking at photographs of the home.