‘Should I use a recruiter?’ Here are 6 scenarios where you should not.

Outpost Recruitment founder, Ruairi Spillane, has spent five years placing jobseekers with Canada’s top construction and engineering companies in permanent roles. Jobseekers often ask themselves ‘should I use a recruiter?’, and in this opinion piece, Ruairi outlines six scenarios where jobseekers should instead apply to companies in those industries directly.

As a job seeker, the idea of outsourcing your job search sounds fantastic. The job search often starts with a buzz of excitement and suddenly week or two later, it’s a very different story. Finding employment in Canada is an extremely slow process. Engaging with the right recruiter can help set your expectations, provide you with a trusted advisor and establish a clear strategy. That said, outsourcing your search to a recruiter is not always the best choice.

What are my options?

  • Go it alone – use online jobs boards and personal connections to manage your own job search
  • Engage the right recruiter – seek involvement of a recruitment professional to expand your knowledge of the market and include a wider network of opportunities.

To understand reasons why you should not use a recruiter, it’s important to first examine the reasons why companies will call on a recruitment agency to assist with their hiring.

  • Urgent need – Outsource HR process due to time constraints
  • Hard to find skills – Broaden the reach of HR
  • Convenience – Client is happy to outsource their HR function purely to save time and effort
  • Headhunting – Client use an agency to assist with an approach to a target

When a company pays an agency fee to source talent, they’re paying with the expectation that candidates presented by an agency are going to be of an extremely high quality. For the recruitment agency, this means the candidate must meet and exceed established job requirements

At Outpost, we specialize in permanent roles for construction professionals across civil, infrastructure, and buildings projects. Based on five years of experience, we can gauge when a candidate’s chances will be hindered, because the employer is unlikely to want to pay a recruitment agency fee for a jobseeker who has to overcome a significant barrier. If they’re taking the risk of hiring that jobseeker, they want to do it as cheaply as possible, and it’s not in our interest or the jobseeker’s interest to present them to the company.

Here are six scenarios where we will usually advise a jobseeker to approach the company directly.

1. Lack of consistent work experience

When employers use a recruiter, they want a return on investment. Hiring a candidate who has never lasted beyond 2-3 years with a previous employer means this return on investment is less likely to be realized. Sometimes this movement is beyond the candidate’s control but if a candidate has displayed a tendency to “jump around”, then they are not an ideal recruitment candidate for an agency and will be better served directly convincing an employer of their merit.

2. Lack of relevant experience

If your experience level if way off the requirements for years of proven experience, then an employer is not likely to hire via you via a recruiter. If you are junior or you are switching role/industry, we often recommend you apply directly. It’s rare that companies will use a recruiter for junior level roles so directly managing your job search is highly recommend for candidates with less than two years of proven experience.

3. Language barrier

Strong communication skills, including working fluency in the local language, are crucial when a company decides to use a recruiter. At Outpost, we focus on technical roles so a candidate must have demonstrated their ability to work through English (Note: We are not active in Quebec so we focus on English speaking candidates only). If your written and spoken English is anything less than perfect, then you should consider managing your own job search. A recruitment fee is just another obstacle for you to overcome if you are not the perfect fit in terms of communication skills.

4. Lack of local / western world experience

The local experience paradox. Canada’s aging population desperately needs international workers, but employers crave local experience. If they don’t get local experience, they seek the next best thing which is experience in a similar western economy to Canada. Candidates without this level of experience will typically represent a higher risk to the client.

5. Cultural barrier

We often meet strong international candidates that cannot make a breakthrough because local employers are looking for a long-term candidate that will be a cultural fit in Canada. This is more common outside of the main cities but a factor to recognize. Candidates coming from differing cultures will always have a relatively higher settlement risk so we will often suggest that they job hunt directly to improve their chances.

For example, an international candidate coming from Sub-Sahara Africa to Edmonton may have a difficult time convincing an employer they are making the right long-term hire as the employer may be concerned that the candidate may struggle to settle in a dramatically different climate.

6. Immigration barrier

Unlike the Middle East and Australia, gaining employers sponsorship in Canada is extremely difficult and therefore not very common. Canada is a resource-driven economy so when commodity prices are low the demand for international workers in the economy will drop. If you need immigration assistance, it will dramatically reduce your attractiveness to a Canadian employer, so this presents yet another obstacle to finding employment. For these reasons, we rarely present candidates that require immigration assistance unless they are all-stars with extensive estimating or senior management experience.

Need help figuring it out?

If you’re unsure as to whether these apply to you, or would simply like a second opinion, we encourage you to contact us so we can advise you.

We gladly represent jobseekers where it’s possible to do so. And if not, at least you’ll know.

Register with us and make the first step.

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