Should I Use an Expat Recruiting Agency?

Expat Recruiting Agency

Expat recruiting agencies are often the first choice for many prospective expats. This is because new expats are usually not familiar with the expat recruitment process. Such applicants generally prefer a guided approach because it can be quite a daunting process trying to land that first expat gig.

Additionally, a quick search for popular expat locations in Asia, the Middle East, etc., often yields results replete with expat recruiting agencies at the top of the list. It doesn’t take long at all to encounter one of these companies in the course of your expat journey.

Expat recruiting agencies can and do serve a vital role in keeping the expat employment world revolving. They help employers fill critical roles in a short period of time. They assist job-seekers in finding rewarding careers in the expat space. And, they bring a holistic awareness of the ins and outs of expat employment.

As with all things, I like to approach everything from a balanced view. Making a decision to use an expat recruiting agency should be met with careful consideration. So let’s examine some pros and cons before I give my final verdict on the matter.

Pros of Using Expat Recruiting Agencies

Some the advantages of using expat recruiting agencies include the following aspects:

Safety And Security

Working with an honest, reputable recruitment agency may save you a lot of time, headaches, and stress when dealing with overseas employment. This is because you don’t have to worry about safety and security issues related to shady “employers.”

There are many suspect characters in the world of expat recruitment. Every job announcement is not what it appears to be. Keep in mind that anyone can post a job advert online if they have the money to do so. In general, you will find such recruitment ads on shady classified ad listings. However, sometimes they may spring up on otherwise well-known and reputable job boards.

Short of visiting the country and employer yourself, the next best option to avoid recruitment schemes is through an expat recruitment agency. These agencies typically do a thorough investigation of employers to ensure the safety and security of job applicants.

Most reputable expat employment agencies have a long-standing relationship with the employers that they work with. They also have a comprehensive screening process when they intake new employers. The process generally involves a site visit, background check, licensure qualifications, and other measures to determine the legitimacy of the employer.

Access to Expat Employers

Expat recruiting agencies sometimes have access to job postings that are not available to the general public. Some expat employers exclusively use recruiting agencies, which means that they have little to no direct contact with prospective job candidates. Other employers may only use recruitment agencies for specific jobs within their organization.

In other instances where employers recruit directly and use an employment agency, job applicants may still have some contact with the recruiting agencies during the hiring process. Therefore, using a recruiting agency is a way to get maximum exposure to the expat job market.

Free Guidance and Resources

Expat recruiting agencies are generally a powerhouse of guidance and resource accessibility. Recruiters tend to work with hundreds of employers and job applicants. So they are well aware of what employers are looking for in the ideal candidate.

They often spend time prepping and guiding qualified candidates about how to approach specific employers. Expat recruiting agencies also generally publish a great deal of employment advice to prospective candidates in the form of a blog and/or newsletter. They may also host information sessions or have other forums for educating job candidates.

All of these resources are typically free to job seekers. This is because their goal is to present highly qualified candidates to employers. Therefore, they often provide a host of resources to help you grow and succeed in your job search.


Some the disadvantages of using expat recruiting agencies include the following aspects:

Salary Negotiation

Recruiting agencies are paid a fee to procure talent for jobs. Sometimes their fees are taken from your negotiated pay, and other times they are paid directly by the employer. Either way, you stand to get shortchanged in the salary department when going through a recruitment agency.

If employers pay a significant fee to the recruitment agency, they may offer job candidates less pay and/or fewer benefits to make up for the difference. This means that your potential earnings may be slightly or considerably less than that of a direct hire. Therefore, you do need to be wary of pay differences when you choose to use a recruiter.

Employer Prioritization

Job seekers are not prioritized by expat recruiting agencies – the employer is the recruiter’s primary concern. Prospective candidates should never pay a fee to the recruitment agency because they are paid by the employer.

Because the employer often pays hefty fees to the agency, they get most of the recruiter’s attention and their loyalty. This means that no matter how talented you are, the employer’s needs and desires will always reign supreme.

Fraudulent Agencies

Just as there are shady “employers”, there are likewise fraudulent recruitment agencies in the expat space. Not all agents are what they appear to be. Some agencies may use less than scrupulous tactics in the hiring process, such as:

  • Posting bogus recruitment ads
  • Illegally charging fees to the applicant
  • Encouraging applicants to be dishonest
  • Making false promises related to pay or benefits

And the list goes on. Therefore, you should likewise be weary of recruitment agencies as you are of employers.

The Verdict

Expat recruitment agencies are a great option for prospective job seekers in the expat workspace. These agencies can provide you with assistance and guidance that may be of use to you for years to come. They can help you land the perfect expat job and start you on your way to a truly fulfilling expat journey.

You can likewise find the expat job of your dreams through other job search efforts. There is really no right or wrong way to seek out expat employment. The ultimate goal is to find the right job that suits your needs and desires.

In order to do so, you need to do your research no matter which direction you choose. As mentioned above, there are nuisances involved in either method you choose to use. The key is to ensure your safety and security while pursuing your passion.