Looking for a change of career, but not sure where to start looking? Need to fill a position quickly, but don’t have time to advertise and screen applicants yourself? Recruitment companies, steadily becoming more widely known and utilised in Thailand, could be your answer. And if you’re a candidate, the only cost involved is your time.

Country general manager of global human resources specialist Manpower, Simon Matthews, says that only unscrupulous agencies – the sort occasionally drawing bad press – charge candidates for placing them in positions. "Reputable companies only charge the client," he emphasises. Even that cost only becomes payable when a candidate commences work, and is refunded if the worker doesn’t stay for a minimum guaranteed period – usually two to five months, depending on the recruitment company. The cost ranges from around 12 per cent to 33 per cent of the placed candidate’s annual salary – the higher amounts are for executive placements. Costs for temporary staff varies widely.

Both Manpower and Adecco, another global human resources specialist, provide staffing solutions across many industries, meaning they accept resumes from a broad range of candidates. Both companies assess candidates’ skills before placing them on their books. "We don’t provide career counselling, but we do talk to people about their expectations, and let them know if they’re unrealistic," says Mr Matthews. Manpower offers some complementary training opportunities – self-paced computer courses, and courses in time management, presentation and negotiating – but not on a scale comparable to countries such as the US. Plans are underway to increase training opportunities. "To equip people with skills makes them more marketable, and from our point of view, it makes them easier to place," says Mr Matthews.

Adecco, too, will provide complementary training where necessary.

Unrealistic expectations can also be a problem from a client’s perspective. "Someone might want an executive secretary, with five years experience, bilingual, computer-skilled – but they’re only willing to pay up to 20K," says Adecco Consulting’s general manager Aree Petcharat. "The current market rate would be 35K up to around 40 or 50K, so we need to explain that they should drop some of their requirements if that’s what they’re willing to pay."

Furthermore, Aree maintains that local companies need to be educated about the benefits of using a recruitment company’s services. "Local companies often think our fees are high. We need them to understand that paying that fee is an investment in their company. And when we find the right people for their company, they are going to bring in more income for them."

ISM Tech recruit only in the IT area, meaning candidates and clients get a service tailored to their needs. "We’ll test a candidate’s technical skills, as well as do reference checks, both personal and on what they did and didn’t do in past jobs," says president Peter Fischbach. "Because we focus on IT, we have a lot of contacts in the area, so we can usually just call one of them."

There are also executive recruitment specialists, such as Pricewaterhouse Coopers, which have some 35,000 resumes on their books. Their executive recruitment partner, Munthana Thamlikikul, says that it’s important for executive recruiters to have a thorough understanding of their client’s business and operations. "We can then advise our client on whether the position they wish to recruit for is the right one," she says. "For instance, a client might wish to recruit a financial controller. We might examine their operations, however, and find they only need to recruit at the manager level. This suits their business better, and also leaves room for the employee to be promoted later on."

Interested in applying? Ms Munthana says that it helps if candidates send a concise, up-to-date resume. "Include your experience, and state your preferred position and companies you’d like to work for. Also include your current salary and expectations. All of this helps us to place you."

/ Finance