So you've decided it's time for the big change. Switching careers can be both exciting and daunting, but the good news is you don't have to do it alone. An employment agency can help you transition into a new career and offer valuable support at all stages of this giant leap.
An employment agency (or staffing agency, recruiter, search firm or staffing firm — they're often called by various names), can match you with temporary and project-based work so you can build transferable skills and gain experience in your new area of focus. An employment agency can also help you find a full-time job in your chosen field, a search that can be challenging — especially if you don't have a proven track record or an established network to lean on.
What can an employment agency do for me?
An employment agency worth its salt will provide a range of services to help you make the switch. A solid staffing firm will do the following:
- Offer tailored tips and advice on changing careers
- Give you industry-specific information, including insight into market trends and in-demand skills
- Bubble up job opportunities that may pique your interest
- Provide tips for the job interview and guidance on revamping your resume
- Present your qualifications to potential employers
- Help you build your professional network
How do I approach an agency when changing careers?
There are two ways you can enlist an employment agency: by responding to a specific job posting or, in a more general sense, by registering as a potential candidate who's open to a variety of opportunities with client companies.
A reputable agency will help refine your options by giving you specifics about available positions and potential employers in your chosen career and industry. The staffing firm can also assess your suitability for open roles.
When should I contact an employment agency?
The ideal time to contact an employment agency is when you've decided exactly where you want to go next. The more assured you are about your career objectives and what type of work and environment you want (and don't want), the better able an agency will be to help you.
Even if you're not 100 per cent sure of what type of job you're after, go in with a firm grasp of your own skills and talents and the confidence to present yourself. This determination will create a great first impression and help the agency find the right opportunity for you.
Which agency should I choose?
The rule is just what you might expect: Do your homework. Pick an employment agency that specializes in the industry you want to join. Talk to members of your network to see if they have experience with the firm. Review the staffing firm's website and reputation within your chosen field. Take a critical look at the agency's operations and request specifics about its process for placing job candidates.
Use your intuition and evaluate the service you receive once you reach out to the agency. What kinds of resources are made available to you? How would you rate the advice you're offered? How much time and attention does the agency give to guiding you and helping prepare you for your career change?
What's my role in all this?
An employment agency will be most beneficial to you if you've already taken a few steps down your new career path. At that point, you'll possess at least some of the skills that employers in your field seek, and an employment agency will be more likely to make a successful placement.
As you move forward, keep in mind that it's worth proactively researching trends within your industry and gauging the salary you should expect. Check out Robert Half’s annual Salary Guides for clear, accurate information.