It's a fact that you are more likely to obtain your job through a recruitment firm. In fact, you would be almost insane not to engage with at least one or two agencies. After all, it's free, simple and can really boost your career.
Who do I go with?
It's a good idea to check the consultancies' websites; things to look out for include clients (do they work with companies for which you'd like to work?), quality awards and overall professional feel of the site. Meet with a few likely companies and then go with those who treat you with real professionalism - those who interview you face-to-face are always going to be the best bet. Alternatively, try looking through The Appointment's recruitment consultancy directory here.
How many should I use?
Don't chuck your CV at everyone. If your CV ends up on the same recruiter's desk from six different consultancies you'll look desperate.
Using multiple consultancies will also deny you the chance to build rapport and loyalty with a consultant - they're less likely to go that extra mile on your behalf if you're working with all of their competitors too. Overall you need to trust the people you work with and they need to trust you so be upfront about any other consultancies you're using.
Be professional from the start
From the moment you step into a recruiter's office your consultant will be assessing how easily you will be to place. When a consultant puts your name forward for a job they are putting their reputation on the line so they need to know you're right. Treat the interview as if it were the employer of your dreams asking the questions and, of course, do not complain about your current position. See this article for more interview advice!
Stay on top of the process
It's up to you to drive the recruitment process and make sure you're in control of it. This includes agreeing timescales for when your consultant should get back in touch. If they fail to meet agreed targets, complain. If nothing is done, walk. With so many other companies out there, it's not worth the hassle chasing a consultant who never calls back.
No reputable consultancy would ever promise to find you a job. They work on vacancies determined by their clients and if your profile doesn't fit the job requirements there's not a lot they can do - in the short-term at least.
Never stand them up
Failing to turn up to a client interview or assessment centre wastes the client's time and damages their relationship with the consultancy. What's more, your unreliability will be attached to your digital record with both firms. So barring genuine emergencies or disasters make sure you turn up to any meetings arranged by your consultant.
Listen to their advice
Consultants want you to be right for the jobs they're working on for clients - they get commission for placements. As such if they offer you advice about how to improve your chances of landing a job - listen to them! If they tell you to visit some stores before the interview, visit some stores. If they suggest you learn as much as you can about the client's competitors, do it!
Finally, and more importantly, if they advise you on why you weren't selected for a job - listen to them! Moreover if you can learn from your mistakes so you're better prepared next time around it will have been a worthwhile process...and chances are you'll end up with a new job that's perfect for you.