If you’re looking for work or a career change, you might want to consider using a recruitment agency to provide specialised support, removing some of the stress out of understanding how recruitment works. Expert recruiters can be especially helpful in explaining how the Australian Public Service (APS) operates, and they can save you time landing a winning position in the private sector too.
Choosing the right recruitment agency can be daunting, especially in a crowded market like Canberra.
In this article we’ll outline the qualities to consider when choosing a recruitment agency, and share where to find the best in Canberra. But first, we’ll quickly explore the APS and private sector job landscapes.
What is the APS?
The APS is the federal civil service of the Commonwealth of Australia. It’s responsible for the public administration, public policy and public services of the departments and executive and statutory agencies of the Government. It’s made up of thousands of employees at different levels and classifications, many of whom are based in Canberra.
APS jargon can be confusing. Essentially, public sector jobs begin at the entry level, called APS Level 1 (APS1). They top off at the highest level, Executive Level 2 (EL2).
If you’re looking to work in the APS for the first time, a recruitment agency can be invaluable in explaining the APS to you and matching your skills and experience to the right classification level. They can also explain the security clearances often required for APS roles.
What is the private sector?
The private sector comprises businesses and organisations that don’t belong to the public service. It can be competitive and financially driven. It too has entry and senior level positions, but doesn’t use the same ‘labels’ as the APS.
What makes a great recruitment agency?
Choosing the right recruitment agency can take the stress out of looking for work and help you fast track winning a dream job. It can also save you time and money.
It can be helpful to keep the following in mind when choosing a recruitment agency.
- Knowledge and experience. Your chosen recruitment company should have broad knowledge and experience on a wide range of recruitment issues, including legal requirements and the precise steps involved in matching an employer to a jobseeker. A recruiter with years of experience will be more skilled at thinking laterally about employment opportunities.
- Panel access. If you’re looking for work in the APS, you’ll want to sign up with a recruitment agency that has won a place on various supplier panels. APS departments use these panels to source recruitment agencies to work with to find candidates. If you want to work in a specific department, ask the recruitment agency if they’re on a panel for that department.
- Availability. Recruiters can get crazy busy and a common concern can be lack of availability. Ask your recruitment agency what their commitments are for returning phone calls and emails. Also ask how they stay in touch throughout the recruitment process.
- Commission structure. While many recruitment agencies are modelled around a commission structure, others aren’t. Commission-driven recruiters can be primarily motivated by meeting agency targets and making money. Recruiters working for agencies that pay staff a salary-only package without commissions tend to put people before profit. After all, recruitment is about people.
- Creativity and connections. You’ll want a recruitment agency that thinks laterally about possibilities, to provide jobseekers with more opportunities and employers with a greater talent pool. You’ll also want an agency with strong networks and connections.
The best recruitment agencies in Canberra
Riotact’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.
To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on Riotact and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.
Established in Canberra in 2006, Whizdom is an award-winning specialist provider of ICT services, technology, and administrative contractors and permanent personnel to Government and private sector clients across Australia. With direct panel arrangements to Federal and State Government departments and multinational private sector clients, Whizdom contractors gain valuable opportunities to work on innovative technologies through an extensive network, established reliability, and exceptional reputation.
Whizdom values long-term relationships, investing in contractors' careers beyond their current roles with upskilling, career advice, and a best-in-industry benefits package. They offer impartial guidance throughout candidates' careers, fostering a balanced work-life dynamic. This commitment to training and support means Whizdom’s recruitment consultants can provide their clients access to a pool of highly skilled, industry trained professionals.
Whizdom takes a collaborative approach working with clients, offering valuable insights into the labour market and staffing trends. This aids with the formulation of strategies for current and future business and recruitment goals. Complementing this approach is the strong emphasis on training and adhering to regulatory requirements. Through this combined effort, Whizdom empowers its clients to effectively achieve both their short-term and long-term objectives while optimising their recruitment resources.
As Sarah Keane wrote on Google, "Whizdom is a company that ACTUALLY cares. A family owed company, with a real personal touch."
“We move quickly, have the greatest people in our talent community and have fun while getting you the most awesome result. We don't do boring."
Just one of many powerful statements made by Really Awesome People, one of Canberra's most highly recommended specialists for recruitment, project management, workforce consulting and supplementation, and more.
The team promises a streamlined hiring process carried out by some of the biggest names in the Australian business game - CEO Guy Earnshaw (five-time member of Australian Financial Review's top 100 list), leadership expert Keely White (realestate.com.au, Liinchpin and Culture Kings) and Garth John Edwards (Australian film actor, writer, director and producer), proudly of the Bagibarra People.
It all starts with gaining a deep understanding of company needs, vision, mission and values. Then, from their 1,300+ strong database, Guy and his team present the best qualified candidates based not only on their skill, but how they fit with company culture.
Once found, Really Awesome People takes care of all administrative and payroll requirements and makes sure new staff are ready to hit the ground running.
"For a sports team to be successful you obviously need strong individual players on the field, but they must also work positively together. A great culture is made up of a collection of people with good character," Guy says.
"The best person in the wrong organisation helps nobody. The right person in the right position, aligned with company values... That is what contributes to high performance and success.
"Our unique formula allows us to access really awesome talent from all over Australia. Let us help you assemble your success team!"
For more than 18 years, face2face Recruitment has matched employer needs with quality talent. Its experienced recruiters have worked more than 17,000 positions and placed more than 110,000 people.
face2face works on government, private sector and not-for-profit organisation roles. It specialises in IT and Business Support and recruits at all levels for permanent, non-ongoing and contract positions. face2face also works in executive recruitment.
Employers benefit from face2face’s knowledge, attention to detail, and determination to find the best candidates for each role. Employers are attracted by the agency’s 100 per cent guarantee with permanent placements and the size of its talent pool (over 70,000). face2face specialises in end-to-end recruitment and provides high-quality scribing services, essential for quality recruitment.
Candidates benefit from face2face’s personal approach, creative thinking and time spent understanding their unique stories. face2face also helps refine resumes, coach for interviews and provide free advice and tools. face2face doesn’t charge candidates for services.
At the helm is Chief Executive Officer Kate Prior. Kate is innovative and thinks strategically and laterally, believing there is a solution to every recruitment challenge.
face2face was one of the first Canberra companies to break from the traditional commission-based model of recruiting, which encourages recruiters to chase quick placements with high returns. face2face recruiters are free to support all candidates equally.
On Google, Annie Marshall wrote, “Fantastic agency and really is face-to-face. They treat you like a valued client, not a name on a database.”
Cantlie Recruitment specialises in executive recruitment and providing insourced recruitment services. Established recruitment partnerships have enabled the Cantlie team to develop a deep knowledge of Canberra and the ACT Region. With more than a decade of service behind it, Cantlie has extensive networks and expertise in the public, private, not-for-profit and education sectors.
On Google, Andrew Louis wrote, “Great team of people, helpful and insightful as well as going out of their way to assist.”
Emanate Technology is a technology recruitment company that provides high touch, consultative and specialist services. It’s six areas of specialisation are project services, technology sales, cloud and infrastructure, digital and applications, cybersecurity, and data and analytics. Consultants have deep specialist technical knowledge in matching candidates to technical roles.
Michael Huynh wrote on Google, “Emanate have been excellent for me … II was well looked after and always made to feel they cared about me.”
If you’re looking for more information on making the most out of your pay, you might like our article on the best financial planners, the best payroll services and the best salary sacrifice services Canberra has to offer.
Your experience with recruitment agencies in Canberra
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Have you had experience with any of the recruitment agencies listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.
Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly does a recruitment agency do?
Recruitment agencies work to find employers quality talent for their business needs. If they need to fill a position, they can use a recruitment agency to do the heavy lifting for them. Recruitment agencies also support jobseekers to find meaningful work.
Is there a charge to use a recruitment agency?
As a jobseeker, you don’t pay to use a recruitment agency. Their service is free, no matter where you’re located in Australia or what type or level of job you’re looking for. As an employer, you pay a fee to the agency for finding you a successful candidate.
As a jobseeker, do I need to sign an exclusive contract with a recruitment agency?
Some recruitment agencies may ask for this but it’s not a legal requirement and the agreement likely wouldn’t stand up in Court. This is, in part, because it’s a ‘restraint’ on your ability to look for work. If your recruitment agency asks you to sign such an exclusive agreement, you might want to look around for another agency that won’t hold you back
How will a recruitment agency help me find work?
The level and type of services recruitment agencies provide varies from agency to agency, so it’s best to talk to a couple and test this out. Some will spend a lot of time getting to know your story, help you refine your resume, coach you on interview skills and stay with you throughout your recruitment journey. Others don’t invest as much time in individual jobseekers.
I’ve registered with a recruitment agency but never hear from them. Is this appropriate?
Recruiters are busy people, but you’ll want to select an agency that is 100 per cent committed to responding promptly to your emails and phone calls. You’ll also want an agency that keeps you informed on job opportunities and your progress after you’ve applied for roles. Ask your recruiter what their agency responsibilities are for keeping in touch and consider this when deciding who to use.