It is realy alarming to see complaints and assumptions from individuals that are frustrated with staffing companies. I can't realy blame the applicants and say that all the recruiters or account executives are the best at explaining things.
There is a very common misconception about employment services that is never addressed. Employment/Staffing services companies are hired and paid by the corporations that are looking to mitigate their hiring risks and need help finding qualified candidates. The applicant is not paying the staffing companies, they are applying for the positions that the staffing company was hired to pre screen for. Yes, it is an official first interview. No they won't risk there credibility by sending an applicants resume that does not match the clients requests.
Not every applicant has the exact qualifications for every position. In this economic climate, where jobs are scarce, applicants are very frustrated and don't understand that the job market is saturated with fantastic candidates, so employers are very selective and are less likely to hire individuals unless they have the exact experience they are looking for.
Another commonly overlooked factor is salary history. If an employer decides to open a search for a candidate, they are less inclined to select an individual that has made more money than the amount the employer is ready to pay. Employers understand that there is a strong possibility that the candidate will not be happy making less money and once the market turns around, the candidate will be looking for new opportunities. All the money spent on recruiting and training will go down the drain and the employer is stuck at square one again.
It is a delicate balance of skills, environment, personality and longevity. Lots of recruiters are overwhelmed with the number of applicants in the market. Recruiters get paid based on their ability to establish relationships with hiring managers that are willing to pay a service fee for sourcing candidates. Unless the candidates are hired, the staffing firm and the recruiter make no money.
In this market, employers are getting slammed with phone calls from recruiters trying to establish opportunities for the candidates they meet with. The applicants/candidates don't see that the recruiters are calling on companies and are being turned away by gatekeepers/secretaries/Executive Assistants that work for the companies and are told to block these calls. After finally being able to get a company to trust the staffing firm's ability to source the right applicants, recruiters must be very careful in selecting only the best candidates that meet the clients expectations.
It is realy important that applicants understand that when you go to a staffing firm, it is just like going into the corporate office of the employer. You need to present your qualifications and impress the recruiter to move forward in the process. If the recruiters send your resume to the client, they are sending a total review, testing scores, interview notes, and reference notes. If the total package impresses the employer, then there are next steps, if not, it's back to square one.
I believe that applicants doing research on the internet about staffing companies should take the time to realy understand the way things work and not assume that recruiters are paid to find unemployed people work. My advice to applicants: be patient with recruiters, follow up regularly every 10-15 days to keep your name in mind, register with various recruiters (Increase your chances) and network.
Lots of companies are using networking events to source candidates, paying employees referral bonuses.
To all those that are looking, my best wishes to you and hang in there, things are picking up and your number will be called soon. To those that have had a good experience at recruiting firms, blog it!