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Negatives of Using Job Placement Agencies

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Job placement firms often promote themselves as being the best solutions to your employment woes as a job seeker -- and they can help you -- but you shouldn't rely on them as your only source. Even when incorporating these employment agencies or search firms into your job search methods, using them still has certain disadvantages.


Job placement agencies can be expensive, as they usually charge the hired candidate, or the employer, a fee. The fee is usually based on a percentage of the candidate's starting salary. If you are hired at $50,000 dollars per year and the agency's fee is 20 percent, for example, you must pay $10,000. Using a job placement firm can still work to your disadvantage when the employer pays the fee. Most notably, it costs the employer money to hire you, while someone who answers an ad costs the company considerably less.

Time Consuming

Working with a job placement agency can be time-consuming. As a job applicant, your representative may want to see you in person, which involves a trip to the company's location. Once you get there, you are usually required to fill out a lengthy application form that summarizes your experience and skills and lists the types of jobs you are seeking. Most employment agencies also test job candidates on proofreading, typing speed or other skills related to available positions.

Limited Number of Jobs

A job placement agency may work with many employers but only have a few openings in your field. Many agencies, however, specialize in certain careers, so you will at least qualify for the few available positions. But some agencies have been known to lure people in for advertised jobs and then try to push other opportunities on them. All told, only a limited number of jobs are available through job placement agencies. And once they present your background to the hiring companies, you may have to wait months for additional jobs to become available.

Restrictive Guidelines

Many job placement firms have restrictive guidelines, especially search firms. Your agency representative may want you to revise your resume, which can take several hours and may be expensive. Some agencies require applicants to not only use their resume services but other job search tools as well, such as consultation on interview etiquette, advice on answering interview questions and videotaping of interview sessions.

Lack of Attention

Candidates really don't know if job placement firms will even send their resumes to employers. Representatives who work for job placement agencies are usually paid by commission. They submit the resumes of candidates who are the best qualified for a particular job, offering the placement representatives the best chance of earning commissions. Unless you are highly qualified for certain jobs, your resume may get little attention and end up on the bottom of the pile.

Your Overall Job Search

Even if you use job placement agencies, don't limit yourself to just that one source. Also take advantage of newspaper ads, online job sites, college placement offices and networking. Contact friends, relatives and former business associates. Join professional business associations and attend their meetings. Networking is basically getting to know people, and you do it every day. Moreover, recognize the difference between private and professional employment agencies. People are most familiar with private agencies -- those in phone directories that earn profits for their services. Professional employment agencies are typically nonprofit groups that find work for current or former members -- academic institution career advisory services, employment exchanges, and professional organization employment services.

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