New Grad Tips for Job Hunting
sturti/istockphoto

Can Employment Agencies Actually Help New Grads Land a Job?

View Slideshow
New Grad Tips for Job Hunting
sturti/istockphoto

Job Search Stress

Landing a job after graduating from college can be daunting regardless of your major or how cheap your location might be. College doesn't necessarily prepare students to write a professional resume or present well during an interview. What's more, job hunting can be tedious and discouraging. The good news is employment agencies can often assist with this process, helping recent grads to get their foot in the door. Here are tips from career experts across the country to make the most of an agency's assistance.

Related: 26 Ways Social Media Can Land or Lose You a Job

Job Experience Isn't Required
vladans/istockphoto

Job Experience Isn't Required

"Contrary to popular opinion, no experience doesn't mean no chance," says Stu Coleman, partner/senior managing director at talent acquisition firm WinterWyman. Most recent grads have enough internship, club, or project experience to win them a job. "And when they don't, they certainly have the transferable skills from waiting tables or working summer camps to qualify them," he adds. "They just need someone to speak on their behalf — and that is what the agency is for."

The Agency Matters
fizkes/istockphoto

The Agency Matters

Job placement opportunities vary by the employment agency. "Most employment agencies place for full-time jobs, unless it's a temp agency. In that case, a part-time or temporary job may lead to a full-time position, but that depends on how well you do in the job, as well as whether the company has a full-time role to offer," explains Laura Handrick, career and workplace analyst for FitSmallBusiness.

What Kinds of Companies Might Use Employment Agencies?
portishead1/istockphoto

What Kinds of Companies Might Use Employment Agencies?

Employers in nearly all industries may seek to fill open positions with the help of an employment agency. "Any company that has a need and the budget to use an employment agency will choose this route," says Sonja Rohn-Budreau, life and career success coach and founder of Creative Consulting. "The kinds of companies that use staffing services are non-skilled to skilled labor, manufacturing, industrial, commercial, professional, IT, human resources, accounting, healthcare, nursing, C-level leadership, and government."

Ask the Right Questions
monkeybusinessimages/istockphoto

Ask the Right Questions

To help decide whether or not you want to work with a particular employment agency ask a few questions designed to gauge how successful it is at placing candidates. "Ask them if they recently placed anyone and where, as well as how many of those placements converted to full-time positions," suggests Jennifer Steele, an associate professor in the School of Education at American University who works as a career coach for students.

Research Using Social Media
damircudic/istockphoto

Research Using Social Media

Another way to find out more about an agency is to read reviews on social media. "Go on Yelp and type in the names of employment agencies in your area and find the reviews," associate professor Jennifer Steele advises. Dig into what other job searchers are saying about a particular agency and their experience working with the agency in question, as well as the quality of jobs secured with the agency's help.

Look into Options and Services
dusanpetkovic/istockphoto

Look into Options and Services

It's also a good idea to look into an employment agency's staffing options and services offered, as well as what type of agreement you might be required to sign with the agency, suggests career coach Sonja Rohn-Budreau. All of this information should be readily available on the employment agency's website.

Narrow Down the Field
BartekSzewczyk/istockphoto

Narrow Down the Field

To narrow down the options (as there are countless employment agencies out there), recent graduates may want to identify agencies based on an area of specialization, ideally finding one focused on jobs in a field related to the graduate's college major or field of work to be pursued, says career coach Sonja Rohn-Budreau. "Then, make a list of the top 10 agencies nationally and locally." Next, develop your resume and cover letter and start applying to each employment agency on the list that focuses on occupations of interest to you or that align with your college major, experience, or career goals. Finally, go the extra mile by calling the agencies as well to inquire about specific positions you may be interested in.

Don't Pay the Agency
ljubaphoto/istockphoto

Don't Pay the Agency

Never pay an employment agency for its assistance. That's the universal verdict from career coaches and employment industry professionals far and wide. "The job seeker should not agree to pay a contingency on finding employment or pay up front. If it's a legitimate situation, the potential employer pays the fees," says Jennifer Steele of American University.

Don't Give Away Future Income
Devenorr/istockphoto

Don't Give Away Future Income

In addition to not paying for placement, you should never have to give an agency a percentage of your income after being placed in a job. "An employment agency should never take a cut of your pay. Any agency that offers to find you a job for a percentage of pay or for an upfront fee is probably a scam," says career analyst Laura Handrick.

Consider Multiple Agencies
PeopleImages/istockphoto

Consider Multiple Agencies

It's important to take a multi-pronged approach to a job search including filling out job applications on your own, networking, and having an overall job search game plan. That effort could also include signing up with an employment agency in order to make life manageable, says Jennifer Steele of American University. Perhaps sign up with two or more agencies if the first one is not able to find you work.

Prepare by Working with a Career Coach
Tempura/istockphoto

Prepare by Working with a Career Coach

Before meeting with that first employment agency, it's a good idea to schedule a few sessions with a career counselor or coach, perhaps at your college or university. Coaches can help with such things as personal branding, job search strategies, social media etiquette, dressing for interview success, and preparing for an interview, says career coach Sonja Rohn-Budreau.

Get Your Elevator Pitch Ready
Steve Debenport/istockphoto

Get Your Elevator Pitch Ready

A critical item to prepare before meeting with an employment agency is the "elevator pitch, which can answer the favorite interview question "Tell me about yourself," says career coach Sonja Rohn-Budreau. What is an elevator pitch? It's a brief but compelling description about yourself and your experience and career goals.

Treat Your Recruiter Like a Hiring Manager
undefined undefined/istockphoto

Treat Your Recruiter Like a Hiring Manager

Your employment agency recruiter should be treated with professionalism and respect. If the recruiter finds you courteous, responsive, and personable, they're going to call their best clients and demand that they meet with you, says Stu Coleman of WinterWyman. "I can't tell you the number of people who have found amazing jobs with companies that would never have looked at their resume, simply because their recruiter believed in them."

Don't Worry
Milkos/istockphoto

Don't Worry

Most temp agencies or staffing agencies are unlikely to reject you simply because you're a new graduate, says Jennifer Steele of American University. However, they may give you a pass if "they know your industry or area expertise is not aligned with the companies they work with."

Be Professional
BrianAJackson/istockphoto

Be Professional

Just because the employment agency won't be your ultimate employer, that doesn't meet you should act any less professionally or diligently when interacting with the agency. Prepare as if you were about to go on an actual job interview, says career coach Sonja Rohn-Budreau. "Arrive early to every meeting and interview that you're scheduled for with a client. Research the employment agency's website and familiarize yourself with its culture, its services, the types of industries staffed, the jobs, the process of becoming an associate, and review frequently asked questions on its website."

Give Your Agency a Range
FangXiaNuo/istockphoto

Give Your Agency a Range

It's fine to let an employment agency know what your desired salary range is. However, when it comes time to interview with a potential employer, let the hiring company start the money conversation, says Jennifer Steele of American University. "You can tell the employment agency there are certain types of jobs you would not accept. But I would let the salary discussion be up to the potential employer. Once you're offered a permanent position, you're in a better space to negotiate."

Add Big Agencies to Your List
svetikd/istockphoto

Add Big Agencies to Your List

Some of the country's top employment agencies include KellyServices, Randstad, Aerotek, Adecco, and Robert Half. Each of these firms works with a wide variety of employers and companies and many have locations around the world, said career coach Sonja Rohn-Budreau.

Know Agencies Are Just One Tool
jacoblund/istockphoto

Know Agencies Are Just One Tool

It's important for recent graduates to understand that using an employment agency is just one job search tool and it is not recommended that it be the only one, says Professor Suzanne Rohan Jones, an adjunct professor at Maryville University, who serves as a career coach and counselor. "Job seekers should also network with family, friends, college instructors, fellow alumni, and contacts through LinkedIn in order to expand their job search resources in as many directions as possible," she says.

Have Realistic Expectations
skynesher/istockphoto

Have Realistic Expectations

To help maintain a positive attitude and a level of optimism throughout the search process, even when working with an employment agency, enter the partnership with the agency with a clear understanding about the types of positions available, the likely timeline for finding a position, as well as the assessments that may be required by the employment agency to help guide the placement process, says Suzanne Rohan Jones of Maryville University.

Take the Long View
PeopleImages/istockphoto

Take the Long View

Whether you're working with an agency or searching on your own, one of the most important things a recent graduate should do is take the long view, suggests Stu Coleman of WinterWyman. "No one knows where they will be or what they will be doing five years from now," he says. "I don't even know where I will be in five years. But I do know that everything I do now is a building block for my future. Sometimes your first job is just that, your first job. It probably won't be your dream job, mainly because you don't know what that is."

Don't Give Up
whiteshadephotos/istockphoto

Don't Give Up

Throughout your search, keep in mind that breaking into the job market for the first time won't be easy, says Jennifer Steele of American University. Still, don't give up. "It's challenging. It feels like you are never going to break through," she says. "Everyone goes through it. It just takes persistence."

Be Willing to Pass on Work
PeopleImages/istockphoto

Be Willing to Pass on Work

If an agency does land you a job offer, you don't have to accept it if you don't want it. "The one thing I tell everyone is that no one can make you do something you don't want to," says Stu Coleman of WinterWyman. "If you don't like the job, company, commute, or pay, then you probably shouldn't even take the interview. Yes, you should certainly be open, flexible, and sometimes willing to interview just for the practice, but if you can't honestly see yourself working there, don't waste anyone's time. If your recruiter doesn't respect that, then you probably shouldn't be working with them."