Tuesday, February 20, 2007

How to Effectively Use a Temp Agency to Help You Land a Job

I usually, I write about freelancing issues. After all, this blog is about the BUSINESS of freelancing. However, I've decided to start devoting one post a week to full-time career issues, as I've been peppered since the beginning of the year with these types of questions.

Y. Black, Publisher


Many treat temp agencies the way Cinderella was treated by her stepmother - a necessary evil. However, temp agencies can be one of your most valuable tools when looking for a job, if you heed the following advice:

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1. Show Up for the Interview: I can't tell you how many times I've scheduled interviews, and the candidate just doesn't show up. Many think, "it's just a temp agency." BUT, it's so much more.

Recruiters at temp agencies have a direct line to the hiring source at many companies - sometimes hundreds.

They know about positions before they even become available. Usually it's because they've built a rapport with several people within the company, so they know who's about to get fired, who's going out on maternity leave, when there's going to be a reorganization within the company, etc.

They are a wealth of information about the business community at large - it's their job. When you don't show up for a scheduled interview, you not only ruin your chances for the position at hand, but future ones as well.

Even if no specific position is at hand, many times a recruiter screens applicants because they never know what that next phone call is going to bring. I always kept a file of extremely qualified candidates in a special folder and sometimes would pitch a candidate to a client even if they weren't hiring at that time because the candidate was just that great!

BUT, if you don't show up for the initial interview - you will never get a chance to experience this process work for you.

2. Stay in Touch: Many times a recruiter will tell you to give her a call every two to three weeks while you are searching. Sometimes they mean this; sometimes they don't. I always meant it because it's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.

The fact is, recruiters see so many people that sometimes a great candidate will slip their mind. BUT, if you constantly stay in touch, it lets us know that: i) you're persistent; ii) professional; and iii) serious about your search. All of these just happen to be great qualities in an employee as well - in almost any profession.

How to Stay in Touch with a Recruiter

Most like phone calls - short ones. Just a quick touch-base call will do. "Hey, it's Lisa Smith. We met two weeks ago at the job fair downtown. I just wanted to know if anything came in that fit my skill set. I'm still looking."

This is all it takes. If the recruiter's not there, please leave a message. Most won't call back unless there's a position at hand. Believe me, this simple action keeps you on their radar.

3. Electronic Copy of Resume: Email the recruiter a copy of your resume AFTER you meet with them. I don't care if you've sent it beforehand and brought one with you to the interview (you should always do this).

Why You Should ALWAYS Provide an Electronic Copy of Your Resume to Recruiters

Why is this important? Most recruiters email resumes to clients; they rarely fax them anymore. When I owned my agency, Inkwell Editorial, in New York, I operated a paperless office the last three years. Meaning, I did not keep paper files for the most part - especially resumes.

My reasoning was, if you're job hunting and weren't savvy enough to have your resume in electronic format, then you probably didn't have the computer skills necessary for most of the positions that came across my desk. So, a paper copy wouldn't have been of much help to me.

Most recruiters keep some type of filing system on their desktop that allows them to easily access and "shoot" resume to employers.

While many look at temp agencies as a waste of time, they can be one of your best weapons when job hunting.
Copyright Notice: May be reprinted with the following, in full: Yuwanda Black is the publisher of InkwellEditorial.com: THE business portal for and about the editorial and creative industries. First-hand freelance success stories, e-courses, job postings, resume tips, advice on the business of freelancing, and more! Launch a Profitable Freelance Writing Career in 30 Days or Less -- Guaranteed! Log on to InkwellEditorial.com to learn how.
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