THE recruitment business may not be a young industry in Singapore, yet many misconceptions about it prevail.

As the chief executive officer of Achieve Group, I have been in the business of recruitment for more than 20 years and I have come across my fair share of shenanigans, which have no doubt contributed to giving the industry a bad name.

It is what prompts me to write this article to debunk the myths and misconceptions about recruitment agencies in Singapore.

For a start, some fresh graduates refrain from approaching recruitment agencies for jobs because they have a misguided perception that they may be exploited or cheated by these firms.

Why is this so or how did this phenomenon come about?

It can probably be traced back to the fact that some recruitment agencies impose a service or registration fee, which can amount to $50 a candidate. Candidates have to pay this fee upfront but there is no guarantee that they will indeed secure a job through the agency, as job placement depends on many factors.

While this practice is not technically wrong or illegal, many candidates feel it is unfair and so react adversely to recruitment agencies altogether.

But many job candidates — especially fresh graduates just joining the workforce — fail to realise that this is not the standard practice in all recruitment agencies. In reality, the great majority of recruitment firms do not take a fee from candidates at all if they approach them to seek employment opportunities.

On the contrary, seeking the experience and expertise of a trusted and renowned recruitment agency will actually give you a higher chance of success in securing a job.

How so?

Here are some of the benefits of finding employment through a recruitment agency in Singapore:


• You will be better represented: Often, there are positions that are not advertised in the public sphere due to confidentiality or to protect the company from being seen as always looking for staff and, hence, giving the impression of high staff turnover. These companies seek the services of reputable recruitment agencies because they trust them to search for and recruit the best candidate for them.

• You enjoy a greater reach, as the agency represents many different companies: For example, if you are not suitable for Job A, the agency — especially an established one — has many other job assignments and, correspondingly, the chances of finding a suitable match for you is definitely higher.

• You benefit from the agency’s relationship with client companies: On many occasions, the agency’s relationship with client companies does make a difference. When the recruitment agency has a strong working relationship with the client company, the client entrusts it to shortlist only the best candidates that fit its requirements.

• Get shortlisted quickly: Many companies receive a pile of resumés when they advertise a job vacancy. The hiring manager usually sifts through the resumés quickly, sometimes deciding in five minutes whether an applicant gets a chance at an interview — or not.

But if a candidate is recommended to the employer by an established recruitment agency, the hiring manager is likely to pay close attention to the application and grant the candidate an interview.


• Finally, the commercial element works to your advantage: Recruitment agencies have a vested interest to find their clients the best candidates, especially in Singapore’s tight labour market.

Recruiters have sales to do and assignments to fulfil, as they are accountable to their clients. So if the candidate is a good match, the agency will present his profile to the client without haste.

Aligning yourself with the right recruitment agency in Singapore will definitely increase your chances of getting the job you are looking for. Do some research on the agencies you would like to partner with to ensure the right fit. Once you have established a relationship with a recruiter, you can look forward to career opportunities coming your way.


Article by Joshua Yim, chief executive officer of Achieve Group, a recruitment and human resource consultancy in Asia. For more information, visit