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Let’s not tell the agency

Lord love a duck.***(***Stupid English i.e. not British, specifically English… expression uttered when nothing else will fit… often used when stunned or dismayed.) We sit here day and night searching for candidates and clients and suitable jobs, try to put everything together in order to make a few pence, keep the wolf from the door, stop us ending up in the poorhouse. And what thanks do we get?
In no order of importance, here are some observations about the rôle of staffing services, what we do, what we shouldn’t do, what the candidates should do, what the candidates shouldn’t do…. My last blog was a bit of a cathartic download of emotion, so let’s keep this one upbeat.
1)  When you have been temping with a client — client to us, potential employer to you —  and it comes to the knotty question of being hired permanently, and hoping the company can afford you, it sometimes transpires and occurs that the company is not exactly flush with extra cash. They may take you into their thought process, “Well, we can’t give you $X,000 per annum this year – remember there’s the agency fee we have to pay”. Smile sweetly and say nothing; their cash flow isn’t your problem. You do not, let me re-type that, YOU DO NOT helpfully suggest that you and they don’t have to mention it to the agency. No-one will ever know, and when the agency call you up to find out why you’re no longer temping with their client, and what’s the scoop, you just don’t answer the phone to them. Ever again.
Do you see, chaps, how this isn’t cool? You think you’re being helpful, or of course, you think you’re being cleverly devious, as a way to ensure employment. Nope. It’s dishonest, and will usually come back to bite you in the posterior. If the client really is having difficulty finding the cash, they can tell US, the agency, and we’ll find a way round it; it’s called negotiation. With luck, they’ll reply, “No way. Known her for years, wouldn’t dream of cheating.” They might just say, “Ooh, yes, please” in which case you deserve each other, (though the agency STILL deserves its fee).  
If the company is the naughty one that says, “Don’t tell the agency”, you have to wonder, dontcha, about joining a company like that. If you’re desperate for employment and feel obliged to go along with it, email me and I’ll tell you how to deal with it – it’s ok, it doesn’t involve violence and keeps your integrity untarnished.
Right, that was the worst one. What else do you not want to tell the agency?
2)  “I don’t actually have the degree that my resume falsely claims I have.” I’ve listened to all sorts of stuff over the years – well, not that often, fortunately – to explain away why the candidates can’t quite prove they have the degree (“The dog ate the certificate,” “My ex tore it up,” “The college didn’t keep computer records then,” “The college records department burned down”). It’s all rubbish if it isn’t true. You’ll get found out and we’ll all feel bad for assorted reasons. If a company insists on a degree for a job and you don’t have one, then you’re not getting the job. Sigh deeply and move on. The agency is here to help you though this type of scenario, including trying to persuade the client not to be so dam’ picky, and trying to get you to tell the truth on your resume in a positive light (“did some college but ran out of money”).
3)  “I live a long way out of Manhattan so I am not writing my address on the resume in case the employers won’t want me.” Think this through, dears. It might get you the first interview but you’re going to have to ‘fess up when they ask where you live. If the company wants you to live nearby, then living in Moose Droppings NJ won’t get you the job. Neither will leaving off the resume the fact that you live in Moose Droppings NJ.
There is an exception, I suppose, for those who don’t want to write down their address lest a crazed stalker finds their resume (I really have to stop watching so much Investigative Discovery Channel). You still have to write down the town, “Bronx NY”, “Westport CT” will suffice.
4)  Reasons for leaving your previous jobs. You totally have to tell us. Positive spin on all sorts of scenarios is one of my specialties, “Ooh, say that again please, so I can write it down” is a comment I hear often from candidates. Do I get them to lie? No, I most certainly do not. There are ways, though, to tell the truth in a sensible light that will have the client looking bored (absolutely the best response because it means it’s not important to them) and move on to the next question. Therefore to your staffing service you give the whole l-o-n-g story, “No no, I tell a lie, it was a Wednesday.” We can tell you what’s important to the client, what’s not, and how to give your reason in an upbeat 10-15 seconds or less.   
5)   Some candidates, now you just won’t believe this, no, no, really, don’t want to give us their current salary. “I googled it. I don’t legally have to”.  No, don’t suppose you do. But a potential employer has an equal right to ask for your W2 and if you want the job you’ll have to give it to them. So why won’t you tell the agency? We’re here to help – could you all please remember that? – and for that we need the facts. One of our tasks is to help you get the maximum salary the company will be prepared to pay without their feeling aggrieved and we can’t do that if we don’t know what you earn(ed). Why wouldn’t you tell us? Beats me… Perhaps you think the company will base an offer on what you earn and not the top range of what they think the job is worth. And you’d be right; it’s their call to do that. They may have it in their budget to pay – making these numbers up here – $80,000 – $100,000, just in case a high-earning superstar applies for their job, but you’re only earning $62,000. They are not necessarily going to offer $80,000, never mind more. They tend not to like paying more than a premium of about 10-15% more than your current salary (lots of exceptions, thank goodness). We look after the client companies as well, of course, but we want them to hire you and have you become a happy bunny in the job. That way you’ll stay there for years, give all your friends to us as referrals, and the company will give us lots more jobs to help them fill. It’s called nirvana.

Why have I written all this annoying stuff? Most people out there know that agencies are there to help them find a job, and that they can be the difference between acing the job search and failing. Some staffing services aren’t as good as others, but I’m talking good ones here, Merit and all the others who care about their clients, their candidates and doing a good job such that they feel they earned their fees with integrity.  Help us help you by being upfront, telling us what we ask, and taking/at least listening to our advice. And then we all win. No, I do not intend to become a motivational speaker, that last sentence just made me sound like one.