I'm surprised to see that there are few threads relating to the role of recruitment agents in IT on this forum (Searching back sevral months at least).
I live in the UK, where the market still seems to be rather depressed, and am currently unemployed so make of it what you will. Any commens, addendums or opinions are welcomed, especially from those with relevant certs who have either found it easy or hard to find a position.
Gaining qualifications and certifications is only half the battle, you still have to find a job after it all. In other words it seems like a highly relevant subject for discussion.
Firstly it is pretty obvious that the vast majority of jobs offered on websites such as jobserve, monster and jobsite are completely fictitious. Agents will generally refuse to tell you the company hiring until you have been accepted for interview so this is difficult to prove. Could be that I have been refused for 100s of positions in the last couple of years or so but it seems unlikely to me. However seeing the same agents post the same job details (generally all the latest techs with a huge salary) countless times leads to more than suspicion.
In short most of the adverts are simply there to get a copy of your CV to be stored on file.
Secondly I have received countless phone calls from agents supposedly looking to fill a role which have been very similar in content. I can't recall ever hearing back about any of these 'jobs' and I have worked in sales environments enoug to recognise a script when I hear one. Not to do with the 'jobs' themselves though; they always ask 2 questions.
a) Do you have anything else in the pipeline, have you been to any interviews lately?
and b) Do you have any friends or colleagues who are also looking for work?
In short my opinion is that these calls are purely about finding out which companies are recruiting and where they could get more CV's from.
Agents naturally have to compete with each other for each position that becomes available; I've received numerous phone calls from agents who have sent my Cv to a company only to find that another agent has already sent a copy. Generally they will try to nag you into specifying that they have the 'rights' to your CV although in business terms you have absolutley no idea which monkey on the end of the phone is looking for the least commission (which at the end of the day comes out of your salary) or which is most likely to represent you honestly and truthfully. Indeed I have attended interviews, both through direct contact and through agents; not been told the outcome but still received calls the same day from agents offering me the same job for several �k less.
Agent's fees are something which we do not have information about when sending our CVs in yet as companies will allocate a budget for such positions the agent's fee will almost always come out of your salary. Personally I would like to know in advance though I have few detils other than scuttlebutt. From personal experience one employer told me that he was glad I cme through x agency because y was asking for 25% of my salary to place me. More recently I've heard figures of between 9 and 15%. This for making a few phone calls, sending an email and (unfortunately) sometimes getting the details wrong (even of dates for interview in a couple of cases).
Even for jobs that actually exist your chances are not necessarily helped by an agent. I've heard agents nagging companies to give them exclusive rights to their recruitment, naturally as they are the only agency with the recources and staff to find the right candidates. However for basic positions requirng little more than a degree and some aptitude I find it unlikely that such agencies who probably have hundreds of developers CVs for every position cannot find more than a few candidates.
Suspicion is that they are deliberately choking the market in order to drive salaries, and therefore commission, up. If x company only uses a single agency and said agency only puts forward 3 candidates saying that there is a skills shortage then the company is in a difficult position. Imagine if 2 of the three or so candidates were clearly unsuitable and unemployed, and the third was employed. Naturally x would have to make the employed candidate an offer sufficiently greater than their current salary to temp them. However as the agent alo knows where the employed candidate works he can then contact that company offering to fill the position that has recently been vacated. Therefore making greater commission on the first position and also being in with a chance of filling the 2nd, etc etc ad infinatum.....
Cynical? Sour grapes? Possibly. However I was once told by an agent back in 2000 that I had been accepted for an interviewed position but that they would be waiting for a month or two before taking me on. Back in 2000 the market was very healthy though in decline and I turned down several positions in order to wait for said company. Naturally the position did not materialise (due to the market slowing down according to the agent) though the same agent placed me elsewhere. Two years later I saw a similar position advertised on their website and so enquired saying that I had been accepted previously only to be told (by the chap who had originally interviewed me) that no such offer was ever made or suggested......