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Are Agencies as Bad as People Say?

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Hello,

 

As I try to get my first job in the industry, I have to wonder, are recruitment agencies as bad as people say? I have heard many times to bi-pass recruiters and apply straight to the company. The reason for this, people tell me, is that you are much more likely to get a job that way, as the company doesn't have to pay the finding fee (or what ever they call it).

 

However, I have come to find that applying through an agency will result in a higher chance of getting an interview (as I have had more interviews by going through a recruitment agency rather than applying directly). This is most likely because the agency have direct contact with the company, know who to speak to and the right ways of pushing an application through.

 

I will say, I could probably be more aggressive when I apply to a company directly. So maybe that is why I get more interviews by going through recruiters... 

 

 

What are your views?

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Larger game companies would not use recruitment firms other than for very specialized/upper level positions (headhunting). Applying directly is important.

Start ups might use agencies rather than spending money on advertising their positions.

Is there a reason you can't do both?

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Larger game companies would not use recruitment firms other than for very specialized/upper level positions (headhunting). Applying directly is important.

Start ups might use agencies rather than spending money on advertising their positions.

Is there a reason you can't do both?

I have seen a wide range of companies using agencies, from AAA, Bafta awarding winning studios to (large)indies. Most indies are large, because the fee for hiring someone through an agency can be large so a 'big' budget is needed.

 

There is no reason I don't do both, in fact I do. There isn't a real problem in this thread, more of a discussion :)

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not use recruitment firms other than for very specialized/upper level positions (headhunting)

 

This^. If seeking a high-level or high-salary position and one's network isn't finding anything, then an agency is the way to go. Otherwise, I wouldn't recommend it. Especially for raw beginners.

But are people really saying "agencies are bad"? Really? What are those people saying that's specifically bad about agencies?

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not use recruitment firms other than for very specialized/upper level positions (headhunting)

 

This^. If seeking a high-level or high-salary position and one's network isn't finding anything, then an agency is the way to go. Otherwise, I wouldn't recommend it. Especially for raw beginners.

But are people really saying "agencies are bad"? Really? What are those people saying that's specifically bad about agencies?

 

I said in the original post. Not bad par se, just that you are less likely to get hired by a company if you go through an agency, than if you applied directly to said company

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I have to wonder, are recruitment agencies as bad as people say? I have heard many times to bi-pass recruiters and apply straight to the company. The reason for this, people tell me, is that you are much more likely to get a job that way, as the company doesn't have to pay the finding fee ... I have come to find that applying through an agency will result in a higher chance of getting an interview.

 

What are your views?

 

It is both.

 

Think about why people use recruiters.

 

Game companies don't really need to work hard to find entry level workers.  Put a notice on their web page and a sign at some local universities and colleges, and the company will be flooded with entry level applicants.  When the applicants come in they are so eager to work in the industry that they'll take artificially low rates just because they want in so much. They'll offer 70% or 60% of the wage the student could get at a non-game company and the stupid kid will shout things like "I'll work for even less, just hire me!"

 

But when they want someone with a bit of experience it gets harder.  Usually the limit is around 5-10 years of experience. Most people hit their mid-thirties and realize they aren't willing to put up with the BS that happens at so many studios. They have a family and don't want to stay late every night. They are unwilling to work for very little pay.

 

It is interesting to compare various studios. As I've written in the past, I've had the opportunity to work closely with several studios but have seen a couple studios that treated people as professional software developers rather than teenage hackers or disposable cogs. Many studios have a culture of age discrimination and usually don't realize it. Then they are puzzled at why they struggle to hire and maintain anyone with a long background, and put the job title "senior" on someone who has completed 2 or 3 games, rather than most industries where "senior" means 2 or 3 decades.

 

Some very simple questions to ask:  How many people (other than studio founders) have worked at the company through retirement? Give a count of the number of non-founder retirement parties held in the last five years.  At the vast majority of game studios the answer will be "zero". In my experience, I know of only two studios that could answer more than zero, making less than 5%. It is a simple interview question that reveals the extent of age discrimination and abusive practices.

 

Couple the factors and you have the answer to your question about why recruiters develop bad reputations.

 

Recruiters get a bad reputation from young people because the recruiters won't have many good entry-level matches. They say "recruiters won't find us any good jobs", or "the few jobs we can find are low-paying".  They get a bad reputation on the experienced people because most of the active high-paying jobs are from companies blind to their own discrimination trying to hire people they will mistreat, so the experienced developers get matched with an employer that claims they want them but actively rejects them. Both the worker and the employee feel unhappy with the match because the employer is naturally discriminatory.

 

 

 

On the question of if you should use a recruiter, look at your age and experience.

 

If you are part of the first group, an eager young student or recent graduate with no real experience, then no, a recruiter is probably not the right avenue. A recruiter might take your name and might submit it to a few jobs, but probably not. Most likely you'll talk to a recruiter and they'll say they don't have anything that matches you right now, but they might in a few years.

 

If you are part of the second group, a more mature developer with a decade or two of experience, a recruiter would love to help match you with a job. They have lots of studios who want to hire you because you look good on paper, even if deep down they want to fire you because you are over age 30 and they misinterpret 'professionalism' as 'working late nights and abusing employees'.  You will of course want to do a lot of vetting and ensure the company is a good match for you, but the recruiter can help give you a long list of companies that at least claim they want to hire older, experienced developers.

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If you are part of the first group, an eager young student or recent graduate with no real experience, then no, a recruiter is probably not the right avenue. A recruiter might take your name and might submit it to a few jobs, but probably not. Most likely you'll talk to a recruiter and they'll say they don't have anything that matches you right now, but they might in a few years.


 

Great reply, thanks, it was interesting to read!

 

I am of the above group, and see why so many recruiters send me copy/paste emails. I have been lucky with one recruitment company though, I am a candidate of one of their recruiters, we have spoken multiple times and he has put me forward to multiple companies, and as previously stated I have had interviews as a result. Sadly no offers (YET!)  but he does keep me posted of the jobs that come across his desk. from your reply it seems like I found the needle in the haystack of recruiters.

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Some agency companies I know of don't even charge for a hire on a fee instead its a strict % of the top of that persons wage that which is negotiated between the hiring company and the recruiters. So it is possible to be offered a lower wage because of this.

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It is possible, yes, but in practice not a big thing.

 

You are still free to negotiate and say how much you need as an individual. If you aren't satisfied with the offer, reject it. 

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Larger game companies would not use recruitment firms other than for very specialized/upper level positions (headhunting). Applying directly is important.

Start ups might use agencies rather than spending money on advertising their positions.

Is there a reason you can't do both?

 

Actually I've seen the complete reverse of this.  It is all the startups that have disclaimers on their website saying "No Agencies please" simply because they cannot afford the agency fees.  The larger the company gets the more likely it is that they will use agencies to weed out all the applications even for graduate positions.  Why spend your time having a lead developer get paid to weed through 1000 applications when you can let the agencies do it for free.
My first few jobs in the games industry were all through agents.  I found that applying to companies directly at the same time the rest of the country was graduating got me very quick rejection responses. Re applying to exactly the same companies but through an agent got me interview strieght away.  

As a few examples of the kinds of companies that were doing their graduate recruitment through agents, Travelers Tales, Sony, Lionhead, Creative Assembly are just a few.

 

 

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