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There are positives and negatives in using recruitment agencies to find a job. On the positive side, agencies have strong established networks within their industries. Candidates and recruiters use them because of this.

On the negative side, agencies cost recruiters a lot of money. Hiring an employee through an agency can cost a recruiter something like 20 - 30% of the recruit's first year salary. Recruiters will therefore usually approach agencies only when they have tried to fill the vacancy through all other reasonable means.

If you decide to use an agency, be careful in selecting it - there are both good and bad agencies. Good agencies will specialise (and be seen as specialists) in the industry you want to work in. They will interview you and will give you advice on the sort of jobs you should apply for. As experts in finding people like you a job, they will speed up your search.

Bad agencies have no interest in you beyond their commission. They will scatter your resumé around widely. Recruiters don't enjoy reading resumés - they quickly learn the good agencies from the bad ones and will often refuse resumés from all but a selected short list.

You can often find specialist recruitment agencies in industry magazines. Alternatively, network with people in the industry and in the roles you want to move into to find which agencies they use.

Once you are on the books of a good agency, be professional in the way you deal with them - if they arrange an interview for you, turn up on time and be well-prepared. Remember that the reputation of the agency rests on providing good, pre-screened candidates to recruiters. You need to help them maintain and build this reputation - if you let your agency down, you may never hear from them again.