The Pros and Cons of the Direct Job Search vs Using an Agency.

Starting a new job might not seem like a big deal to some, but to others it can be a major life event. Especially if you have been in the same business for some time. Think about it... you likely spend more time with your colleagues than you do your own family. Well, at least before the pandemic. On top of this there are other things to consider. Work life balance for example, commuting or company culture. It's not just the new job, its all the admin that goes with it.

If you decide a move is on the cards, how do you go about getting these bits of information? How do you know you are making the right choice? Where do you even start? One route is to work with an agency, you would hope that this information would be at their fingertips. Alternatively, is it easier to go straight to the source and speak to the companies directly? LinkedIn is forever churning out job adverts, perhaps that is the route for you?

I decided to reach out to some of the candidates in my network to discuss the pros and cons of job searching through agencies, versus going direct. This is what I found out:

Applying directly

The main theme that I saw from speaking to people applying directly was the sense of control they had over the process. It eliminates all doubt of miscommunication, and the ability to speak directly to the business. Depending on the application process, you are often able to log in, track your applications progress. You can lay out your CV exactly as you want it, as well as asking any queries and questions directly to the business.

In house recruiters have the added benefit of knowing the business well, as they will be working for them as an employee. They will have the insider information to assist you with your questions, that only a person who works for the business can help with. For example, office culture, team fit, which pub is usually frequented on a Friday evening.

Whilst this information is invaluable, applying directly has shown to have its down sides too. Internal recruiters will often focus on many different roles across many different areas of the business. For example, simultaneously hiring for a Reward Specialist, a Credit Controller and a Lawyer. All working for the same business, but with vastly different disciplines. Therefore, whilst they might understand the business very well, it is less likely they will be able to answer questions on the day to day nature of the role and responsibilities in great detail. They are experts in recruitment and the business, but not specialists in your field.

It is also worth bearing in mind that due to the pandemic, candidate applications are at an all time high. By applying to a role directly, your application could be in a pile of up 100 CVs, making it that much harder to get off the recruiter's desk, and on to the hiring managers. This high volume of applications can also lead to applicants slipping through the net. Neither receiving positive, or negative feedback.

Applying via an agency

Working with an agency certainly has its benefits, one of which being the time saving element. Setting up a registration, or meeting with an agency allows you to talk about your experience, your goals, and your next steps to one or two individuals, who are then able to take that information, and represent you to all their clients.

Typically, an agency will split into teams that will focus on different specialisms. Oakleaf for example, who focus on HR recruitment, have dedicated teams per industry. (Financial Services Commerce & Industry and Not for Profit) . This allows the consultants to be experts in their chosen field. The Reward team can focus on the HR specialisms and will understand any concerns or queries you have about the year-end process or drafting RemCo papers, as well as where your transferrable skills might lay. By working with an agency, you are working with a recruiter who understands your job, the market, and what the next step will look like for you. They are not just there to help you find a new role today, they are they to help you take steps into the career you want in the future.

Agencies are also able to guide you through the entire duration of the interview process. This includes helping you create and fine tune your CV, talk to you about who you will be meeting, what the interview will entail and what to expect afterwards. They will also push clients for feedback, both positive and negative. They might not always get it, but they will always ask. This can be helpful in tailoring your interview technique for next time and seeing where you can improve.

Consultants are really the “middle man” between applicant and role. They will filter through their network in order to send a short list of candidates to a job they are working. Typically, between 3-6 candidates per role. Therefore by applying through an agency you know your CV is being put in front of the right person.

That being said, agencies are not able to work every job on the market. Companies may not have the budget to work with an agency, or simply choose to do all hiring directly.  The good news is a reputable agency will always tell you if that is the case, and advise you to apply directly.

Also, not all agencies are the same. It is important to find an agency/consultant who you trust and is an expert in their field. They will need to understand your drives and goals before being able to accurately represent you. Think of them as your cheerleader. If they do not understand your job, how will they help you find a new one?

The debate of applying directly to roles vs registering with an agency continues to be a mixed bag, but I hope that this information has given you some insight into what we see as recruiters, and from our network’s experiences.

At Oakleaf Partnership, we pride ourselves on being an expert in our specialisms, and work hard to build a network of professionals around us. Enabling us to best advise on your job search, the market and the roles themselves. We don’t just want to help you today, we’re here for the long run!

So, whether you would like to talk about things brought up in this article in more detail, or get some advice on applying for a role directly, please do not hesitate to get in touch, I would love to hear from you.


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