Anyone looking for a job is now in a much stronger position thanks to the Employment Agencies Act which ensures a much improved supply of information.
Have you ever sent your CV for a job and had no response? Have you ever been promised a job specification that never arrived? Been sent the wrong time or directions to an interview or applied for a job that didn't exist? Then sadly you've been a victim of the small minority of cowboys in our industry.
The Employment Agencies Act means that you now have much better protection from these operators. New guidelines mean that the recruitment industry is quickly adopting a more professional code of conduct.
Let us imagine that your phone rings and a voice says, "I spotted your CV and I have a job that might interest you". If you are looking for work and the initial description over the phone sounds like a good match to your skills and experience then ask for the consultant's name and agency.
If you wish to pursue the role and the consultant agrees you fit the role specification, ask for the name of the hiring company - you are entitled to know this prior to your CV being sent. Ask the consultant to e-mail you a copy of the job specification plus job location, salary and package details and ideally a link to the company's website.
He should also be able to give you some good insight into the company itself and the work environment. If you receive all this information promptly then that is a good indication that you are dealing with a professional agency.
Be aware that many IT jobs are placed with a number of agencies. Ask your consultant what their relationship with the client is. Is their agency a preferred supplier? How many other agencies are also submitting candidates for this job? What is the selection procedure?
Your consultant should be happy to answer all these questions. It is also reasonable to ask when you can expect to receive feedback once your CV has been sent to a client.
But remember that clients have businesses to run, and just because you don't get instant feedback does not mean that your consultant is not doing a good job. Do expect regular communication and don't be shy about calling your consultant for an update.
At some stage you will be invited to complete an agency registration form, provide references and copies of your passport and any relevant qualifications.
This is a requirement of the Employment Agencies Act and any reputable agency will ask you for these documents before you start a new position.
Once you have secured that all-important interview, double check the date, time and directions. What about the dress code - should you wear a suit?
At this stage your consultant should also be able to give invaluable advice on the interview format, what the client is really looking for, and interviewing style.
Jeremy I'Anson is principal consultant, senior appointments, at IT recruitment firm, Hudson