How the industry works

Recruitment agencies will contact companies who are looking to employ graduates to see if they can assist in filling the vacancy. Some companies have a policy of not using recruitment agencies, but if there is no objection by the company the recruitment agency will begin searching for appropriate graduates to fill the role.

Its useful to understand the relationships between you (the graduate, the recruitment agent, and the company looking to employ a graduate. Most recruitment agencies charge a percentage of the starting salary for the person they placed into a role as their "finders fee". For example, if you were placed by a recruitment agency and your starting salary is £17,000, the fee paid to the recruitment agency is £2,250 if a 15% finders fee is agreed.

Once the wheels are in motion, the role of the recruitment consultant is similar to that a dating agency. They have to find a suitable partner for their client, make an introduction, and hope that each party likes the other!

In order to find a suitable candidate, the recruitment agent will have an in-house database of contacts who are potentially available. If you match their criteria this is why you may potentially get a call out of the blue. Recruitment agencies will also use other sources like to advertise jobs and search our online CV database. This is why a profile and CV is so important, you need to get your CV out to as big an audience as possible to stand the best chance.

Companies use Recruitment Agencies because:

  • It is more convenient. Although expensive, the 10% - 20% finders fee covers advertising costs, and creating the adverts copy content.
  • Often its the case particularly with graduate recruitment that there is a significant cost in managing the response to adverts and scanning applications. This is taken on by the Recruitment Agency.
  • There is an element on mentoring provided by the recruitment agency which prepares the candidate for interview and assists them in giving them their best chance.
  • Often the Recruitment Agent can provide some graduate CV advice before your CV is put in front of the potential employer, to give you the best chance.

How do you fit in?

In order to be considered with a recruitment agency you have to sign up with them or simply apply to one of the jobs they have listed on Over and above this there are some techniques you can use to make sure that you are at the forefront of their consideration. The recruitment agent is in a powerful position and will be influential in providing a short list of candidates for their client. to ensure you stand the best chance of appearing on this list consider the following:

  • Treat all interactions with the recruitment agency as an interview, be polite, clear in thought, punctual and enthusiastic.
  • Sell yourself, demonstrate your experience and convince them that you are suitable for the role. Display your understanding of the vacancy and knowledge of the market and company.
  • Remain contactable during office hours. Make sure the recruitment consultant have your up to date mobile, land-line and email address.
  • Contact the agent weekly to make sure they are aware you are available for work.

Don't expect a personal response to each application you make to a recruitment agency. Quite simply there is not enough time to respond to all the applications. If your CV appears appropriate for the role you might get a call from the recruitment agent. If its not - you wont. Its harsh, but that the reality.

In reality your recruitment agent is not exclusively working on your behalf. There may possibly be hundreds of graduates using the same agent. Don't sit and wait for the recruitment agent to come to you. Make it easy as possible for them to contact / consider you when a suitable role appears.

Working the system

Here are some tips to ensure the graduate recruitment agents you sign up with work for YOU.

  • Try and build a relationship with the graduate recruitment consultant you deal with regularly. They are more likely to remember you and it's an opportunity for you to demonstrate your soft skills.
  • Contact your recruitment agent once a week by phone. It keeps you at the forefront of their consideration.
  • Don't be selective - sign up with all the graduate recruitment agencies. You never know what opportunities a recruitment agent will generate. You can always unsubscribe later, but if you don't sign up in the first place you'll never know.
  • Upload a CV on websites that graduate recruiters use regularly. Recruitment agents are always looking for good candidates, make sure you are in with a shout. Your CV needs to be displayed via as many good quality avenues as possible. If you have concerns about the privacy of your information, ensure that the website is registered under the data protection act. This is a government run scheme that ensures responsible and secure storage of personal information. Ltd is registered under the Data Protection scheme - Registration number: Z6515152.
  • Update your CV regularly with new experience and information. Additionally, make sure the recruitment agent is aware of the new details. You can always edit your CV on
  • Work out a system that works for you. Finding a graduate job needn't be a full-time job. Make sure you have all the bases covered in a strategy that you are happy with. In the meantime try and get on with your life, pursuing activities that interest you. Once you have finally found your first graduate career related job, it might put you on a career path for the next 40 years! Enjoy your new life outside of education.