Just finished uni and hunting for a graduate job? Then two questions you’re probably asking are ‘Should I sign up with a graduate recruitment agency?’ and ‘Which is the UK’s best graduate recruitment agency?”

The short answer to the first question, in Graduate Fog’s opinion? It depends on the agency. Because while some graduate recruitment agencies are great (helping you polish your CV and putting you forward for jobs you wouldn’t otherwise hear about) others are lousy (you take ages to register with them, and then you never hear from them again).

As for the best graduate recruitment agency… Well, that will depend on which industry you’ve chosen. But we can definitely show you what to look out for when making your selection.

Graduate Fog put your questions to Cary Curtis, founder of Give A Grad A Go (genuinely the best graduate recruitment agency we know — that’s why you’ll find their jobs on the Graduate Fog Job Board). As you’ll see, Cary really knows his stuff — that’s why his team has helped more than 1,700 graduates into great graduate jobs…

First things first — what exactly is a graduate recruitment agency?
“Graduate recruitment agencies connect graduates who are looking for jobs with employers who are looking for graduates. Think of us as the middleman. Some graduate recruitment agencies specialise in a single area, such as teaching, IT or marketing. Others cover a wide range of industries. At Give a Grad a Go, we specialise in Creative & Digital, Corporate & Finance and IT & Tech sectors, offering a huge range of graduate job roles from Graduate Marketing Executive and Data Analyst, to Graduate Front-End developer and FX Broker.

Do graduate recruitment agencies only work with new graduates, or is it okay if someone finished university a few years ago?
“It varies — so you’ll need to check each agency’s website. At Give A Grad A Go, we take graduates with up to 3 years’ of experience. Though some people have come through our doors with up to 5 years’, if you count all the experience they accumulated during their holidays from University.”



Why would a graduate use a recruitment agency rather than applying to jobs directly?
“Good question! The advantage of signing up with a graduate recruitment agency is that we match you with vacancies which you probably wouldn’t have found on your own. Better still, if we think you have the right skills and experience, we’ll help you make your application as good as it can possibly be, and give you interview tips. If you’re not successful, we’ll give you detailed feedback from the employer, which you can use to improve your chances of being successful next time.”

To apply for a job via a graduate recruitment agency, what’s the first step?
“It varies, but most agencies ask you to sign up (or ‘register’) before you can start applying for vacancies. There is a good reason for this — when we know more about you, it’s easier to match you with jobs that perfectly match your skills, experiences, qualifications and ambitions. So we’ll ask about your background, your skills and what you want from your career. (If you don’t know yet — that’s fine! We might be able to help you figure that out too).

“At Give A Grad A Go we’ve taken the registration process to the next step, by creating our very own Career Builder — a form which begins to shape your personal career experiences as you fill it in. So once you’re done, your profile will automatically direct you to the graduate jobs that best match what you’re looking for — which means no more scrolling through endless unsuitable job descriptions.”



What happens when a graduate spots a job they want to apply for?
“The first step is to always tailor your CV to the role. At Give A Grad A Go we’ve made the application process really easy, by allowing you to store multiple CVs on your online profile. So if you see similar roles you’d like to apply for your CV is already there just waiting for you to click submit. With Give A Grad A Go once you’ve applied for the role then you can track the progress of your application through your own personal dashboard.”

Where does their application go?
“Every agency processes applications differently depending on the structure of their company. At Give A Grad A Go, as soon as you’ve submitted an application, it will be sent straight through to the team that is working on that particular role. Each team reads through every application they receive and it’s their job to narrow down the applications to a shortlist of the best-matching candidates, taking into account our knowledge about the employer, the skills required for the role and the information on your profile and CV.”

How will graduates know if they’ve made the shortlist?
“Keep in mind that lots of factors depend on whether you’re successful, for example some application might just by chance have more specific experience than you on this occasion — we once had a candidate whose entire dissertation just happened to be on the company the role was for so had a great commercial awareness.

“If you make it onto one of our shortlists, one of the our team will give you a call to talk through your CV in a bit more detail, find out more about your career objectives and ask you why that opportunity stood out for you. If we think you and the role are a good match, we’ll send your CV and Give A Grad A Go profile directly to the employer, for them to assess and decide whether they want to invite you in for an interview.”

So graduates then hear from the employer?
“No, we’ll arrange the logistics of each interview for you, and help you to prepare so you can make the best possible impression. Some companies will hold just one round of interviews, whereas others will want to get to know you over several meetings. However many interviews you have, our team will be there to guide you at each step. After each interview we will be on hand to get your feedback and will also liaise closely with the company to see how it went.”

How will graduates know if they’ve got the job?
“After the interview(s), the employer will let us know who they’d like to offer the position to. If it’s you, we will call to let you know the good news! We’ll also organise your start date, contracts and references.”

And if it’s bad news?
“If you haven’t been successful, we’ll gather detailed feedback to help you the next time around. And don’t worry, we’ll still consider you for our other opportunities which we think you’ll be a good fit for. If you’ve got that far, it shows you’re a strong candidate! Our jobs board is regularly updated with new graduate jobs, and the recommended graduate jobs section in your profile will continue to show you the jobs that closely match your Career Guide, so be sure to keep checking in for the latest opportunities.

"A good agency will never put you forward unless you're completely happy" - Cary Curtis, founder of graduate recruitment agency Give A Grad A Go

“A good agency will never put you forward for a role unless you’re completely happy” – Cary Curtis, founder of graduate recruitment agency Give A Grad A Go

Once a graduate signs up with an agency, can they stop looking for jobs elsewhere?
“No — keep looking everywhere for jobs you think you’d be right for. The best strategy is to try everything and see what works for you.”

Is it okay to be signed up to multiple graduate recruitment agencies at the same time?
“Yes, that’s fine to sign up with a couple of agencies, it’s only smart to test which is the best for you. I wouldn’t recommend signing up with more than three, though, at least to start with, otherwise you’re likely to get in a muddle.”

How can graduates spot a good graduate recruitment agency?
“A good agency will always have your best interests in mind. For example, before putting you forward for a role they should always get a good understanding of your career goals and give you thorough details about what the role will involve. If you’re approached about a role you didn’t directly apply for, a good agency will take the time to tell you specifically why they think you’re skills might be a good match and will never put you forward unless you’re completely happy. Should an agency decide to put you forward for a particular role, they should keep you informed at every stage of the process, so you always know what’s going on. As well as being the right thing to do, it just makes sense to ensure everyone knows what’s happening.”

What’s a sign that an agency isn’t good?
“If they advertise roles which are unpaid, pay expenses only, or less than the minimum wage. All of these are illegal, as well as being unethical. Give A Grad A Go has never promoted roles like that, and we never will. The same goes for commission-only roles. Even if the agency claims you could earn far more than the minimum wage if you do a good job, that’s still illegal. Your guaranteed wage must always be above the minimum wage (if you’re under 25) or the national living wage (if you’re over 25).”

What if you suddenly decide you’re not interested in a role you’ve been put forward for?
“Speak to your contact at the agency immediately. To be honest, it’s better not to wait so late — talk to them as soon as you have any doubts or questions. If you’ve already decided that something isn’t for you, be sure to explain your reasons clearly. The agency might be hesitant about putting you forward for future vacancies if they fear you might drop out again. (It isn’t a great look for an agency to present applicants to their clients who then drop out). At Give A Grad A Go, we really try to minimise the chances of this happening, by explaining a role really clearly to applicants before we put them forward, and checking the graduate really is keen. If you have questions or doubts that something you’re being put forward for isn’t right for you, voice them as early as possible.”

Do graduate recruitment agencies ever charge applicants to find them a job?
“No — in fact, we’re not allowed to do that. Every agency works slightly differently, but most are paid a finder’s fee by the employer (our client) once the candidate is successfully hired. In which case, everybody wins.”

One last tip for graduates signing up with an agency for the first time?
“Always be honest with an agency about your skills, qualifications and experience. Never fib and say you have something you don’t! This is not just about cramming a candidate into a role as quickly as possible. But always be open minded to the type of opportunities that might be a good fit for you — there are loads of graduate jobs out there and the right one for you might be something you’ve never even previously considered.”

Should I sign up with a graduate recruitment agencyGraduate Fog’s editorial partner Give A Grad A Go has helped over 1,700 graduates to find great jobs. Click here to sign up with them today!

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