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How Do Recruitment Agencies Work in Canada?

Recruitment agencies are like the magical elves of the job market. They do a ton of heavy lifting, but most job-seekers never get to see their work since it is mostly behind the curtains.

The easiest way to define recruitment agencies in Canada would be to say that they are talent brokers. When businesses are looking for people with specific skills, credentials, and professional experience, they hire recruitment agencies to help them get the right human capital at the right time.

By that definition, do recruitment agencies work for both the job-seekers and employers? That is where the parallel becomes more distinguished. Recruitment agencies and consultants represent the interests of the employer. Hence, their job is to find the right people in line with the mandate they have been provided. Thus, no legitimate recruitment consultant or agency will ever ask you for fees to get included in its pool of prospective candidates.

The best way to understand everything that a recruitment agency or consultant does in Canada is by understanding every major stage in the recruitment lifecycle.

What Does a Recruitment Agency Do?

Recruitment agencies can focus on a wide range of specialties:

  • (i). Hierarchy of Recruits: C-Suite Executives, Mid-Level Managers, etc.

  • (ii). Industry Experts: Energy, Finance, Communications, etc.

  • (iii). Type of Employment: Fulltime, Contract, Part-Time, etc.

  • (iv). The Number of Required Employees: Acquihire Consulting, Large-Scale recruitment, etc.

You might come across more forms of staffing agencies. However, they operate more or less the same way.

1. Job Posting Across Platforms

The recruitment agency establishes the requirements with the hiring manager or department head. This list of requirements includes key skills, budget for the company, number of positions, and other essential details about the job and the tentative salary range.

Once these requisites are established, the recruitment agency will post the job across popular job boards - LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster, etc. The agencies might also visit trade schools or newcomer services centers if the needs for the job necessitate such sources of talent.

2. Responding to Applicant Queries

Most boutique and high-touch recruitment consultants would ensure that each applicant is backed with the necessary support to file the right application. As the openings are posted across job portals, school hiring networks, and the hiring agency's very own listing platform, the recruitment consultants might look into responding to any preliminary queries that applicants might have. Some applicants might have reached out to the agency for specific help filling up the application. No candidates are selected or dropped at this stage.

3. Configuring the ATS for Efficiency

The initial set of applications for most common jobs can cross hundreds in hours and thousands in a matter of days. Sifting through each CV and cover letter would take months, even for a well-staffed recruitment agency. Moreover, the initial screening is designed based on clearly defined metrics like certifications, licenses, past experiences, etc. Hence, instead of manually assessing each application, the recruitment consultant puts the application through an Applicant Tracking System.

The consultant configures the ATS based on her understanding of the key parameters that automatically filter the highest number of eligible applications.

4. Shortlisting Candidates

Once the ATS filters candidates based on available data, the recruitment consultant or agent might go through the new subset of applicants and create a shortlist of ideal candidates. At this point, the recruitment consultant generally uses her judgment to ensure only the applicants with high matching quality with the company’s needs.

5. Organizing the Interview and Screening Process

While interviews are the hiring company's internal matter, the recruitment agency often interfaces between the applicants and the hiring managers to ensure a streamlined process. This is critical for the agency because it is paid based on the number of applicants who join the company with clauses that often necessitate them staying at the company for a certain time.

6. Supporting Candidates Through Final Transition

By the time the shortlisting process gets to the final two or three candidates, the recruitment agency would have drilled down on the possibility of the company hiring one or more of these candidates. Moreover, at every stage of the process, the agency also handles communication with applicants not selected for the subsequent round.

7. Providing Feedback

Some recruitment agencies would go out of their way and work with applicants to provide feedback on what did not work with their profile. The HR Team cannot do this since it has several duties other than sourcing talent. The moment a new professional is hired, the HR Team has to onboard her, train her, and help her settle into the company. But the recruitment agency can often be the interface that collects and provides feedback to applicants.

Working with a Recruitment Agency? Remember This.

While every recruitment agency should simplify the application process for the applicants, this is not the norm. Some agencies can make it very challenging for even the eligible applicants to get through. Hence, check for these signs when working with a recruitment agency.

1. No Recruitment Agency will Ask for ‘Application Fee.’

The recruitment agency is hired to deliver the talent that the company needs. And hence the company pays the agency and not the applicant. If the agency asks you to pay its employees any form of 'application fee,' avoid working with the agency. Some agencies have training programs that help candidates upskill. However, such programs should not be mandatory or used as a mechanism for collecting a fee. If a recruitment agency brings such a proposal to you as an applicant, avoid the application process.

2. No Recruitment Agency will Ask for Your Social Insurance Number.

Your employer will ask for your Social Insurance Number after being hired for the position. The CRA often accesses this number to track your income with a unique identification code that helps it determine your tax liabilities. There is no reason for a recruitment agency to ask for your SIN anytime during the recruitment process.

3. The Recruitment Agency Should Adhere to ACCESS Guidelines.

ACCES stands for the Association of Canadian Search Employment & Staffing Services, an industry body that establishes guidelines and codes of ethics for the industry participants. In an ideal scenario, the recruitment agency you are working with should be an ACCESS member. Or else, the agency should adhere to the ACCESS Code of Ethics.

In Summary

A recruitment agency can make it easy for job seekers and employers to connect efficiently and in a structured manner. Ensure that you are working with a legitimate recruitment consultant with no conflicts of interest, and you will land on your feet sooner than you expect!

Confused about how to work with a recruitment consultant? Post your resume here, and our experts will get in touch with you as soon as an opportunity matching your profile surfaces.

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