Which agencies go the extra mile?

With the number of layoffs in the IT industry increasing daily, it's become vital to find out which recruitment agencies go that extra mile to find work for those of you who find yourself redundant.

With the number of layoffs in the IT industry increasing daily, it's become vital to find out which recruitment agencies go that extra mile to find work for those of you who find yourself redundant. However, finding this out may prove as irritating a task as a troublesome IT project.

The best part of a dozen IT recruiters were given a couple of days to tell Computerworld which services made them stand out from the growing crowd.

Aacorn International, which earlier sent us a tips booklet its directors had written called “Owning your own Job Search”, declined to answer emailed questions. Director Steve Green claimed Aacorn's products, services and expertise were "second to none", but wanted to discuss the topic in person. As time prevented that, Green wouldn't comment further.

“We have no desire to be one of 12 agencies offering your limited readership superficial snapshots of industry topics."

Others cited general busyness or commercial advantage as reasons why they couldn't reply in detail.

Pinnacle recruitment director Ross Turner says he is "reticent" to give away his "competitive advantage" but claims his counselling and career guidance is unique and sought after by both candidates (the job seekers) and clients (the employers paying the agency commissions/fees). Turner also says his difference is emphasising how firms can retain staff as well as acquire them.

Robert Walters IT recruitment manager Glenn Bratton says his agency also produces booklets and training on how to get a job and conduct interviews. Bratton stresses Robert Walters' “candidate-focused” nature, saying because its staff are not paid on commission they have no interest in placing people in unsuitable jobs just to get a percentage.

For country manager Brian Powell, the availability of Spherion’s education and training services is its main selling point. If a client thinks a candidate lacks a certain skill, he says Spherion can upskill the candidate to make them suitable for particular jobs. And in addition to IT courses, Spherion says it will next year fill candidates' gaps in management training, project management, MBAs and the like.

Spherion stages regular social events to let contractors and those in permanent jobs network and share information. Candidates are advised to research the potential employer, the do's and dont's of interviews and and how to tailor CVs to particular jobs. Spherion also claims it maintains a select client base of major corporates rather than hundreds of smaller firms.

Candle’s Wellington general manager Margaret Kennedy says much effort goes into ensuring the right matches for clients as a wrong hire can cost a firm anything from $60,000 to $80,000. Where recruitment consultants add their value for clients is in the complete management of the process, she says.

“They manage the candidate applications, search for suitable candidates, shortlist and then co-ordinate the interview process." They then negotiate salaries or rates and support the final stages of offer and acceptance, she says.

Candle also offers interview coaching, and advice on securing market rates for both clients and candidates, outplacement consultancy, team building, psychometric testing and renumeration surveys, Kennedy says. It runs a "contractors club" offering free online IT training and specialist financial advice, discounts on IT publications, as well as time sheet and invoice management. The agency says it maintains regular contact with contractors and has "significant" functions every six months.

Kennedy advises anyone looking for a position to develop a strong relationship with one or two reputable consultants.

“Ensure you understand and utilise all the skills and expertise of your consultant and gain access to the quality positions/organisations in your desired marketplace." The web is full of useful information, she says. "Invest time in gaining as much information as you can to help you prepare."

Greenwood is Computerworld's human resources reporter. Send email to Darren Greenwood. Send letters for publication to Computerworld Letters.

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