10 Hot Tips to Choosing An Agency

It's time for a change, time to move on to a new company. You've decided to go through an agency to help you find that all-important next move. Where do you start? How do you pinpoint the right one for you?

  1. Go for a specialist agency
    Target an agency that specialises in secretarial and administrative staff, because they will have a good understanding of the industry. 'The specialist consultant who works with PAs and secretaries all day will have a good grasp of the experience shown on your CV - they understand your skills and background,' says Sarah Thomas, Metro Manager at Office Team.

  2. Choose an agency with a strong track record and network of clients
    'Look closely at the track record of an agency,' Richard Grace, Joint Managing Director of Gordon Yates, advises. 'How long has it been specialising in the industry it works in, for example? If it has been in the industry for a while and it has a high profile, it will have a greater network of clients. This will mean more opportunities for you, and more choice.'

  3. Study an agency's web site.
    What does it tell you? 'Does it have a web site with an advice section which shows that it is more dedicated to helping people with their career, for example?' Sarah Thomas suggests. 'Does it get involved in local initiatives? Does it have alliance associations in the UK such as with IPQS and EUMA, which show that it is interested in the profession, and cares about it?'

  4. Choose an agency you feel comfortable with
    It's important to feel comfortable with the agency you're going to work with, because in essence, you're helping each other. 'Is the agency is easy to deal with?' Richard Grace asks. 'How does it handle your phone calls and emails? Do the consultants seem to know their market, and are they up to date with current supply and demand? And does the agency inspire confidence in you? When you walk into an agency, is it the sort of place you walk into and think, 'yes, I can do business with these people?'

  5. Check your agency gets to know its clients and customers
    'An important indication of a good agency is that it will spend a good amount of time getting to know you as a person,' Sarah Thomas emphasises. 'If it takes the time to get to know you, it will take the time to know the client as well, so it is better placed to make the right match. If a consultant tries to get you to take a position you aren't interested in, you know that they just want a sale, so move on to another consultant.' Be sure that the consultant has met with the employer and can comment on the company's culture, ethos and values.

  6. Make use of the agency's networks
    'If you're looking for work in another region, perhaps because you are re-locating to a new part of the country, sign up with an agency which has offices in that region', Sarah Thomas advises.

  7. Consider signing up for more than one agency
    If you're starting your career, or right at the top of it where opportunities are fewer, sign up with more than one agency. If you're in the middle range where more positions become available, one strong agency should be enough to offer you plenty of openings.

  8. Look at the overall picture
    Most agencies will have training facilities you will be able to take advantage of, and they should be able to give you advice and guidance on your CV and career. Some agencies offer networking events for their PAs, giving you a chance to network and make new friends and contacts of your own.

  9. Care about your relationship with your chosen agency
    An agency is going out to sell you to their clients. It's important to make sure that you're happy to be associated with that agency and that they understand you

  10. Think long term
    Agencies look to help those most who work best with them, so when you've chosen the agency you want to work with, look after the relationship between you.

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