How do recruitment agencies work?

An employer looking to fill a position appoints a recruitment agency to produce a list of suitable candidates. The agency then goes through the CVs listed on its books and makes a selection, or actively seeks out possible candidates it believes could be suitable (recruiters are increasingly using online professional networks to find skilled people), and delivers them to the employer for further selection.

Depending on the position being offered, this may involve the agency sending the candidate for interview with the client, supplying the client with a selection of CVs or making the final choice themselves.

When the right candidate is found and hired, the employer pays a fee to the agency. The process costs the candidate nothing. Most jobseekers simply need to apply to an agency to have their details listed and then, in theory at least, the agency should alert them to any suitable openings.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.