Recruitment agencies

Registering with recruitment agencies can increase your chances of getting a job or improving your skills.

The benefits of registering with a recruitment agency

Recruitment agencies work closely with people looking for jobs and also with employers looking for people to fill jobs.

If you register with a recruitment agency they will know what type of job you want and will help you find it. Some recruitment agencies specialise in a particular area of work.

Recruitment agencies may offer you temporary jobs as well as permanent or full-time jobs.  A temporary job can help build up your work experience, skills and confidence which will help you to get back a permanent full-time job.

Recruitment agencies may also offer:

  • flexible working hours which may suit your situation and needs
  • training to make sure you have the skills you need to get the jobs available

What to look for in a recruitment agency

Recruitment agencies must meet the standards set by the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 1981.

If you are looking for temporary work, the agency must agree the following with you:

  • the terms and conditions of the work you will do
  • the type of work you will do
  • how much you will be paid
  • how and when you will be paid
  • details of any paid holiday
  • how much notice you will have to give (if any) if you decide to leave

An agency must not:

  • refuse to pay you because they have not been paid by the person you work for
  • charge you for finding or trying to find you work (there are some exceptions, mainly with entertainment and modelling jobs)

The agency will check that you have the skills and qualifications you need for the job. They will also make sure that you are not breaking any laws by doing this work. They must tell you in writing about any changes to your agreement.

When you register with an agency they will ask you for information about yourself so they can find you a suitable placement or job. Information may include:

  • proof of your identity (such as your birth certificate or driving licence)
  • your experience and any training or qualifications you have 

An agency will not give your information to any other organisations unless they are trying to find you work or they need to for legal reasons. They must get your permission before they do this.

An agency can offer you a job at short notice. They can also finish temporary work at short notice without being responsible for any unfair dismissal or redundancy pay. Always make sure you understand your contract.

Getting the most out of a recruitment agency

To make the most out of your recruitment agency, make sure you:

  • keep in regular contact with them
  • give them all the information they need, including all your contact details and references
  • are honest
  • keep your CV accurate and up to date
  • tell them if there is a particular type of job you do not want - be upfront and save time
  • listen to any advice they have about improving your CV, remember they are professionals and they want to help you get a job

Talk to your agency if they are not finding you work - it may be there are no jobs of your choice available. If so, think about other types of work you would be willing to do or register with another agency.

If you need more advice about recruitment agencies in your area, please contact your nearest Jobs and Benefits office.

Where to get help

If you have a problem with a recruitment agency, contact the Employment Agency Inspectorate (EAI) or use the online form to make a complaint.

The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) offers free, confidential and impartial advice on all employment rights issues.

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