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Information about working or staffing companies

Insider tips on working successfully with Staffing Companies and Employment Agencies

What Agencies Won't Tell You...


When you find an agency you want to work for, register with them in person whenever possible. Online applications are great, but most agencies will not send out a person they haven't met. You may look good on paper, but if they don't know you they won't take a chance in sending you directly to a client sight unseen. If you're not registered, they will not call you. Period. They will call registered applicants.

Once you've registered with an agency, call in regularly. Don't call every day, but also don't expect that they will call you. Staffing agencies generally operate on a "last in-first out" rule — the freshest applicants are the ones who were just there. Calling every day will just annoy your recruiter, but not calling will get you forgotten fast. Find a happy balance.

When dealing with your recruiter, don't be either too friendly or too beligerent. Having an attitude with them will get you to the bottom of their list, so be polite. Don't argue with them about the ads you saw that they placed. They already know about them, you harping won't help. Asking them if they think you're qualified may be a better tactic — it gets them involved. And don't go into detail with them about every single detail of your social life. They may be friendly, but if they hire you, they are your Boss, and any information you give them may be used against you. They're not your friend; they're making money off you. Keep it in mind.


It's still a rotten job market out there, that's not really news to anyone. People with decades of experience are fighting to gain entry-level jobs; union workers are looking at non-union jobs. "Under-employed" has become a word. This article is for those people out there who are looking at temporary work as a true stop-gap, as a short-term solution to tide you over until the "regular" job market picks up and you can return to what you normally do.

We don't advocate lying in any situation, yet there are situations where, if given the choice, not saying anything is the best answer. This situation is one of those. Whatever you do, if you are applying for a long-term or a temp-to-hire position that is a lesser one that you have had in the past, do NOT say to your recruiter, "I'm just looking to do this until I can get a job that I'm more qualified for." It's a pretty sure bet they're not going to give you the job if you do. This is sad, but true. Look at it from their standpoint.

In the recruiter's mind, this is the line of thought: you're already over-qualified for the job. If you take it, their client is getting a freebie of your experience. The client is probably going to love you, because you're probably going to do a great job. And if you're doing a great job and the client is happy, they will cease to be happy when you leave. They will be unhappy, not so much with you, but with the recruiter for putting someone in the job who left. And so, the recruiter will cut their losses in advance, and send people to interview who may not be as (over)qualified, but who are looking for a job they will stick with.

What to do instead: hedge your bets. You can be sure that if you apply for a position that you are clearly overqualified for, the recruiter is going to ask why. Be as honest as possible, but even if you are taking the postition and will keep looking for other work, try not to say that outright. And whatever you do, if you do become "under-employed" through a temporary agency, do not, after you have taken a position, ask your recruiter about other jobs through that agency, unless the position you took is clearly short-term only. It will only hurt you in the end.

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Quite a bit has already been written about the importance of incorporating social marketing into your job search efforts. Networking can be a key element in not only finding out about job openings, but also landing a great job. That's not what we're going to talk about here, though. This is about appearancess, specifically how you appear online. As with your resume, it is worth the slight inconvenience of having an "employer-friendly" set of profiles, linked to the same email address you use on your resume.

Not everyone needs this, of course, but if your last years' worth of Facebook posts revolve around your drinking or partying habits, or are "off color" in any way, it's worth having both a "fun" profile and a professional one. The same goes for Twitter, and any other sites. Employers, recruiters, and even references in some cases, will more than likely be checking you out online at some point, and it's better to be safe than lose an interview opportunity because you (or your friendds) thought it would be funny to post the pictures from the night you were doing tequila shots in your underwear.

Do a quick check on how you appear online (a simple Google search of your name is often enough), and make any necessary changes. Set up a "clean" profile under your real name, linked to the email you use on your resume. In some cases you may even want to tweak your name or nickname on other sites enough that it won't appear close to your real name in searches. It may seem over-cautious, but employers really do check these things. Be aware.

The Initial Interview...

  • Personal hygiene is important.
  • This should be common sense, but don't over-do anything with a strong smell — aftershave, cologne, perfume, body odor, anything. Recruiters see a lot of people every day, and you don't want to be the one they remember by smell, because you won't be invited back.

  • An interview is an interview.
  • Every time you are at an agency in person, it's an interview. The recruiters and the agency are the people who will hire you. Dress and act professionally at the agency and the client. Leave the flipflops at home.

  • Children have a place at an interview. It's called "somewhere else."
  • Find someone to watch your child while you are at the agency and the client, even if it's just a friend staying outside with them. In a recruiter's mind, if you bring your kid to the interview with them, you might also do it at an interview with a client. They won't want to risk it.


Most agencies and client companies will require a drug test at some point. Ask your recruiter. If you can't pass one, DON'T LIE about it. It will show up on the test results, and the recruiter and/or client will not be happy that you wasted their time and their money. They are much more likely to understand if you say you need a few days. If you do need a few days, buy a clean kit and/or detox. The recruiter doesn't care what you do as long as the test comes back clean.



If you accept a Temp-to-Hire job, ask your recruiter how long the temp-to-hire period is before you start, and keep track of your hours (they should be on your paycheck). It's your responsibility -- the recruiter doesn't really care how long you temp for (because in many cases they only get paid while you work for them) and the client may not care either. Keep track of your hours, and when your time is up, ask your supervisor and your recruiter about it. Be polite, but firm. If you don't get an answer right away, be persistent without nagging. And if you continue to get no answers or vague ones, ask your recruiter to start looking for another assignment, which should get the ball rolling.


Many agencies have clauses in their employee contracts (usually part of the application) saying that discussing your pay with other employees is grounds for dismissal. Be careful what you say, and to whom. Check your paystubs that your pay is correct, and if you are promised a bonus, watch for it. It's not their responsibility, it's yours. Some agencies will promise bonuses that they never intendd to pay - if they offer you a bonus, see if there is anything in writing that you can get, a coupon, a printout, anything, and hold onto it until you've earned the bonus. It's a pain, but so is losing extra money.


Accidents do happen on the job, and no one will ever be happy about it. Agency insurance rates are based on the number of Workers' Compensation accidents and claims, so they want to avoid them as much as possible. Don't milk the system, but if you are injured on the job, make sure you report it at the time. Workers' Compensation is a tricky area, false claims are as bad as no claim at all. Recruiters and companies are not just on the watch for false claims, they often try to avoid claims themselves. Be careful and be honest.

If you've been injured before, try not to talk about it in your interview. Workers' Comp claims are something agencies try to avoid, and a prior claim is a big red flag to them. If you don't have to mention it, don't.




There are times when your Recruiter or Personnel Consultant (or whatever they are called) is going to lie to you. It's a sad fact of business, but it happens, and it happens often.

  • At your initial interview:
  • It's not that recruiters and agencies don't want to hire you - they do, because that's how they make money. BUT the job you applied for may not actually exist. Recruiters often post positions that they hope they will get, or positions that they know open up often. Sometimes when they're trying to land a large client, they'll advertise for positions and people who will fit that client's needs, before they have the contract.

    How to counteract it: During your interview, try to get as many specifics about the position (not just the company) as you can. Recruiters will never give out company names before the client wants to see you, but ask about the hours, breaks, shifts, when the interviews will be held, etc. If the position isn't real, the recruiter will most likely fumble the information.

  • When you call to check in:
  • If your recruiter suddenly starts being unavailable (on the phone, in a meeting, out of the office) when you call to check in, then the chances are good that you've fallen to the bottom of the resume pile, and they're not actively looking for positions for you anymore.

    How to counteract it: If you truly believe the agency has positions that you are qualified for, get back in front of them. Stop by the office (payday is always a good day to see how they handle problems) and wait to see your recruiter. Bring a fresh copy of your resume (and email it again afterwards), or a revised one. Give them another chance, and if the ignored calls start up again, start looking for a new agency.

  • When you ask for a raise:
  • Nine times out of ten the rates for a position are graven in stone by the client when they contract with an Agency to fill the positions. There may be a set rate, or a range, but Agencies will go out of their way to make sure you don't know how much they make on every hour of your assignment. Sometimes even the client won't know exactly what you make per hour. There are agencies out there who will tell the client that the range is $9 to $11 per hour, then pay everyone $9 and bill as if it were $11. Not all agencies do this, but it happens. When you ask for a raise, the Agency has to clear it with the client, and they don't like doing it.

    How to counteract it: Only ask for a raise after you've been there a while (at least a month), and make sure that you've been doing great work. Even if you find out someone was hired as a temp after you and is making more money, don't be too squeaky of a wheel without backing it up - be on time, do a good job, and then ask YOUR SUPERVISOR at the job, politely. NOT your recruiter. Be careful, though - squeaky wheels get the grease, yes, but in the staffing world, most of the time the squeaky wheel gets released from their position.