Recruitment consultants don't exist to find jobs for job-seekers, but to find workers for the companies that are paying their commissions.
Such is the harsh reality for disgruntled job-seekers, some of whom are under the illusion that agencies are acting for them.
Agencies say finding the right person for a job is much like finding partners for marriage. It is more than just skills, but also personal qualities. If there are shortages of suitable candidates, as is common today, it makes it even harder for the employer to consummate a new working relationship.
And, says Rick Chapman of Auckland-based consultancy Enterprise, employers are not always sure what they are looking for.
"A lot of time is spent drilling down to find out what are the key characteristics for a role. In a candidate-short market, it is not easy to find a perfect match. The role of the recruiter is to find the best fit. This involves interviewing several 'close to fit' candidates to find one or two capable of fulfilling the requirements," he says.
Candle IT&T operations manager Christine Fitchew says sometimes only one person might be interviewed, if their skills are that good.
Nowadays, the internet brings many potential "partners" they can work with and the process is getting faster.
At Enterprise, recruitment ads can mean 100 email CVs every Monday. Candle staff usually deal with 50 emails a day.
A job can come up in the morning, go on the website that evening and by next morning, the agency has CVs ready to sort out for interviews. Not everybody can be interviewed, but the agencies say they do their best to advise candidates of opportunities that suit their skills.
"It is trying to find that perfect fit. If we can find the perfect fit, they [jobs] can be gone within a matter of hours. Somebody with the right skills can walk in the door and get a job in a couple of hours," Chapman says. For a "good candidate" the average is two weeks.
Often, the client withdraws a post, which may give rise to the "misconception" that consultants advertise for non-existent jobs just to build up their database of jobseekers. Such "trawling" is illegal, says Chapman.
Fitchew says: "We don't advertise anything other than requests from our clients. If the client withdraws the post, that is beyond our control." The agencies add they have "thousands" of candidates on their books so they don't need to trawl.
But if you are finding it tough, what should you do?
First try to get the right skills, qualifications and experience.
Keep contacting the agency and remember the responsibility in finding work lies with you, not the agency, says Fitchew.
But if you feel your skills are not the right fit, don't give up.
"There is a job for everyone. It is very much a matter of timing. Candidates have to be tenacious and have to keep at it," she says.
ITANZ executive director Jim O'Neill says people have always complained about recruitment agencies, which is probably because of the competitive nature of their business. And if people are on the "difficult" side, the agencies have to move on to others. But there are many agencies out there.
"It's a tough, tough business," he says.