Basically a recruitment agency is a bit like a dating agency in some ways, except they bring people together in the field of employment, rather than finding them the partner of their dreams. What happens is that the agency acts as a conduit between employers who want to fill positions and people who are looking for employment.
The recruitment agency has staff who are skilled in being able to assess the needs of the employer and then match up the employer with a suitable employee. The benefits for the employer, particularly smaller employers or companies who are in a big hurry, are that they don’t have to worry about going through a very lengthy and laborious recruitment process, this has, to a large extent been done by the recruitment agency.
It also means that positions can be filled really quickly and if you are someone who is looking for work, then it means that you can find work much quicker than actually having to formally apply to each company and then going through interviews etc. So everyone wins, to some extent.
Most recruitment agencies operate by offering temporary positions, that way if it doesn’t work out, then the employee can just move onto another position or if the employers needs change, then the contract can be terminated from their side, so both parties are offered real flexibility.
One of the real joys about working with a recruitment agency is that you can have some kind of back up. This means that if the employer dramatically changes the terms and conditions of your employment, then you can talk to the recruitment agency. This kind of protection is theoretically available as an individual employee, but some employers are not as fair as they should be, so added protection is just a security blanket in case something does go wrong!