So you are thinking about working for a staffing agency. It is a great idea if you need to expedite your job search or if you have been having difficulty marketing your self to employers. There are rules of engagement when working with a staffing agency. The relationship between a recruiter and candidate is a symbiotic relationship. You need one another. Candidates should take the interview process with recruiters seriously. They have access to the employer and before they are confident enough to send your credentials over to the hiring manager, they must have confidence in you beyond your resume. So, some may have you come in for a face-to-face interview to assess your verbal and non-verbal communication skills. How you articulate in that pre-screen interview will offer the recruiter more insight into your personality and your ability to persuade the hiring manager that you are the right person for the job - whether temporary or permanent. The recruiter may also take that time to coach you for the interview if you impress them enough to move you forward in the interview process. So, while making that trip to their office may be a bit inconveniencing at first, it could be the difference between landing a job or not. Remember, the recruiter is your employer - not their client. So always be professional when engaging with the recruiter.
Some people become a little embittered when the recruiter does not get them an assignment quickly. The fact is, recruiters do not create jobs - they fill them. So don't become embittered if they have not been able to place you quickly. Not only do recruiters compete internally for candidates, they also compete with other staffing firms who are presenting their own candidates. The job search remains competitive. Granted - some agencies have exclusivity to some "job orders" but most of the time, their success hinges on timing and quality candidates. Their ability to market your skills effectively is critical so be sure to follow up with your recruiter in a timely manner.
Tips for engaging with your recruiter before you commit:
Look them up on LinkedIn and see how long they have been recruiting and what they did before they started. Recently, I was working with one of my students who just graduated out of her Master's program - she had been underemployed for a while, working for $11/hour to stay afloat - struggling while seeking a job in her degree field. Finally, a job came up at an agency and she was so excited! The recruiter told her that he will pay her $12/hour (in his mind - he gave her a raise). We checked his LinkedIn profile and he had been in his job for 1 month, was a new college grad (Bachelor-level - she has her Masters) and he worked all retail before that. In other words, this was his first recruiting job. I told her to choose another firm.
A WORD OF CAUTION: Stay humble and remember the rules of engagement: be professional, courteous and diplomatic at all times. Being a great candidate doesn't mean there aren't other great candidates to chose from. Therefore, take the recruitment process seriously from the very first call. Be responsive. Be timely with any document requests. Be personable without being too personal. Actually attend your scheduled interviews on time - even you if changed your mind because it is better to go and decline an offer than not show up and look unreliable. And finally, be excellent when you are on your new assignment - it could lead to a long-term permanent job. If not, it could lead to a quicker reassignment - because now your recruiter has confidence in your performance and trusts you to replicate your success with their other clients.
There are pros and cons in working with a staffing agency. I will only write about 1 each to save time. However, check back for additional pros and cons next month.
I read a post recently where a recruiter weeded out a candidate who would not drive an hour to meet with her. I understand the recruiter's reasoning to some degree, as mentioned - recruiters need to evaluate candidates before sending them to the client. They know the client's idiosyncrasies and can help coach a candidate to articulate their value proposition in an interview. Conversely, this seemingly uncooperative candidate may have had financial woes she did not want to share with the recruiter. Who knows? She may have had her car repossessed due to the inability to pay or had wasted valuable time and gas (which is expensive) in the past - to no avail and is jaded about her job search. So recruiters may not be as compassionate about your unique situation. A little more investigation can uncover barriers candidates face, but barriers should not equate to dismissal. Employment can change a person's life, especially if they have been out of work for an extended period of time.
The truth is, many competent, high-quality, well-educated, top-notch candidates are going to waste and companies are missing out on potentially outstanding employees who can make an immediate and positive difference in their business operations and profitability.
The questions for you become:
What value will you add as their employee?
Will you be able to transition into a full time employee with their client?
Will you be able to forge professional relationships with your recruiter and/or employees onsite that will garner referrals and letters of recommendations?
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