Archive for September, 2007

Employment Agencies & Recruiters: An Important Consideration

Monday, September 10th, 2007

There’s a saying in the employment industry: Agencies and recruiters do not find jobs for people, they find people for jobs. In other words, with very few exceptions, they don’t work for you, they work for the employer. Since people in this business are normally paid on a commission basis, it is a volume industry that usually has a rapid turnover of clients.

Since your chances of finding a job through an agency or a recruiter are remote (the best estimates are only 10%), don’t invest a disproportionate amount of your time and resources in this area. If you learn of a job that interests you though an agency, or if you hear of a recruiter who may have some good leads, by all means look into it, but keep the main focus of your job search on networking your contacts and calling / following-up with prospective employers. These techniques are far more likely to provide success in your job search.

~ Anne Follis, CPRW

© Copyright 2010, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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How to Locate the Right Executive Recruiter for You

Monday, September 10th, 2007

The best resource for finding an executive recruiter is the Directory of Executive Recruiters by Kennedy Publications. The hard copy retails at about $70, online access costs a bit less, and you can purchase it here. The book has information about nearly every recruiting firm in the U.S. and is cross-referenced by specialty, industry, location, and other factors. The hard copy is updated annually. If you purchase the online version, you have access for a year and it is continually updated during that time.

Websites that might help you locate a recruiter are BrilliantPeople.com, ExecutiveAgent.com (executive recruiters by field and location), heidrick.com (retained recruiters, $150,000+), and recruitersonline.com.

~ Anne Follis, CPRW

© Copyright 2010, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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Job Service: State Employment Offices

Monday, September 10th, 2007

About 2,000 local state employment offices, sometimes called “Job Service,” exist throughout the U.S. These offices are part of a nationwide federal network called The United States Employment Service (USES). Most of them provide assisstance to workers at a variety of levels — blue collar, clerical, management — and they have access to job listings. Some people have found these services to be of help. They’re worth checking out, although their success rate has been estimated at only about 10 to 15 percent.

~ Anne Follis, CPRW

© Copyright 2010, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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Recruiters: Finding Your Way Through the Jungle

Monday, September 10th, 2007

There are thousands of recruiters nationwide, also known as executive search firms and “headhunters.” Many of them specialize in placing professionals in mid-to upper-level positions, which means that blue-collar and clerical workers, as well as new grads, are likely to be wasting their time when approaching these firms. In addition, if you’re changing careers (say you’ve been in manufacturing and you’d like to get into public relations), it’s not likely you would be a good candidate for this kind of service because recruiters are looking for people who are accomplished in a specific field. Remember, most recruiters are paid on a commission basis, so the emphasis is on volume. For the most part they’re looking for applicants they can place quickly and with relative ease.

Executive search firms are paid by the employer and fall under two categories. About 20 percent are “retained” firms, which conduct personnel searches for companies and are paid whether they place a candidate with the employer or not. The rest are “contingency” firms, and they’re paid only when they send a client to an employer who is subsequently hired.

Like many employers, executive search firms get hundreds of resumes every week that they cannot use, and the initial screening can be very quick and cursory. If you appraoch them, do so as you would a prospective employer. Make sure your resume and cover letter are polished and professional, and if you get an interview with a recruiter, dress the part and be prepared.

~ Anne Follis, CPRW

© Copyright 2010, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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Employment Agencies: Full Time

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Private agencies that place people for permanent positions charge a fee, often a percentage of the first year’s salary. Sometimes the fee is paid by the employer, sometimes by the employee, and sometimes it’s divided between the two.

People looking for jobs normally contact these agencies in response to an advertisement, and some companies regularly use certain agencies. The agencies screen prospective employees, perform reference checks, and generally save companies a great deal of time and money, while only about five percent or less of the people who walk into employment agencies hoping to find a job ever do. Clearly this is a service of significant benefit to the employer, even though you may be the one who foots the bill. So before you go for an interview, understand the fee arrangement. If the fee is not paid by the employer, make sure you’re willing and able to pay it in full if you accept an offer.

To help you determine if you are working with a stable and reputable employment agency, ask how long it has been in business, not just as a nationwide chain, which some are, but how long it has been in your area. Franchise offices may be of particular benefit if you’re looking to relocate. Ask your employment counselor how long he or she has been with the company and how long he or she has been an employment counselor. Since these are commission jobs, there can be a great deal of turnover. One of my clients had an experience in which he went to an agency, filled out the forms, took the tests, submitted to a screening interview, and called back a week later, only to find out the counselor who had interviewed him had left, and no one there could find the client’s records.

Of course, there are a number of highly reputable agencies, as well as competent and caring professionals in the field. Indications of stability include the CPC designation (Certified Personnel Consultant), and membership in the National Association of Personnel Consultants.

~ Anne Follis, CPRW

© Copyright 2010, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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Temp Agencies

Monday, September 10th, 2007

In the past, temporary agencies placed primarily clerical and blue-collar workers, but that’s no longer the case. Companies have become increasingly cost conscious in recent years, and more reticent about taking on full-time workers who are unproven. Consequently, the temporary worker has become the norm in many organizations, from entry-level clerical jobs to management positions, and everything in between. Many temporary agencies even offer benefits to their employees.

The problem with a temporary agency is obvious, however: a lack of job security. Nevertheless, if you’ve been looking for a while with no success, you might want to consider this option. Temporary assignments allow you to fill in gaps in your resume, provide you with valuable expereince, and enable you to make new contacts. It’s even possible that a temporary job will lead to something permanent.

© Copyright 2010, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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References: Don’t Get Caught Without Backup!

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Sam was clean and polished, and he made sure he arrived at the interview on time – not too early, certainly not late. He had thought through answers to a hundred potential interview questions, and he was sure he was ready for anything. Things began swimmingly. He was charming and polite, and he had researched the job and the company enough to know what the prospective employer was looking for in an employee. He was just beginning to think the job was in the bag when the interviewer asked to see his references.

“References? Uh, well, uh . . . Can I send them to you?”

This is a scenario you want to avoid.

People make a number of mistakes with regard to their references. They may send them too early or, like our friend Sam, be unpreprepared when asked to supply them. Other common mistakes include using too many references, or too few, or the wrong references, or giving too little information about them, or too much.

You may be inclined to use a neighbor, or a family friend, or even your clergy person, but these are personal references and they don’t carry as much weight as professional references. Employers do not want to hear what a nice person you are. They want to hear that you are competent and hardworking and have the skills to do the job. And, of course, this is most likely to come from someone with whom you’ve worked.

You will need at least three references, and no more than five or six. Supervisors and managers are the best people to list as references; or teachers, if you’ve recently completed school. It’s also acceptable to use people with whom you’ve done business: a banker, a customer, or a colleague. You may even use people you’ve supervised, although it would be best to at least lead with someone who supervised you.

Choose people who are likely to say great things about you with some enthusiasm and elaboration. If your last manager thinks you can leap tall buildings with a single bound, but speaks in a monotone and tends to be inarticulate, he (or she) may not be a good choice for your reference list.

Of course, you will need to contact your references in advance, and don’t be afraid to remind them of your accomplishments, and to suggest things you’d like them to highlight if they get a call. For example, if you previously worked in retail management but are applying for a position in human resources, it’s okay to ask your references to emphasize the HR aspects of your job. Also, it’s not a bad idea to ask an employer when you leave a job if you may have a letter of recommendation. Even if your leaving was awkward or unpleasant, if there’s someone in the company with whom you’ve remained on positive terms, ask that person for a letter. This will give you something constructive to show a future employer if there are any questions about why you left. Hold on to these letters, and be prepared to give copies to an interviewer if the subject comes up. If the letters are particularly glowing, you may want to incorporate brief quotes from them in your resume and/or cover letter.

In most cases, it’s preferable to leave your references off your resume. You are likely to be sending your resume to a number of people, and it’s not a good idea to invite someone to conact your references until you’ve established a mutual interest with an employer, usually during an interview. There are exceptions, of course. The curriculum vitae, normally used by people in higher education and health care, often includes references at the end.

Once you have a list of references, you need to organize them and present them in a professional manner. They should be listed on one page, either an e-file or a separate sheet of paper, with your name and address at the top, and the title of the page should read: Professional References, followed by the references themselves. Lead with the most positive and impressive. People often contact one or two references and leave it at that, so you want them calling your best first.

When listing a reference, include the name, making sure it is spelled correctly; the person’s title; the person’s place of employment; an address (either business or home); his or her business phone, home phone, and/or mobile; and an e-mail address.

Always bring your references with you to an interview. If the interviewer asks for your references, you’ll be prepared. If he or she does not, I recommend you end the interview by offering them. You may say, “Thank you for your time. Before I leave, I’d like to give you a list of my references. If you have any questions, I hope you’ll feel free to contact them.”

If other candidates are interviewing for the same position, you’re the one who left something behind, and you’re the one who invited the employer to check up on you. This is a very confident, professional gesture, and it’s sure to make you stand out from other applicants.

~ Anne Follis, CPRW

© Copyright 2010, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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