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Agencies and Agents - good guys or bad guys?

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
#1
From time to time, folks misread one of my posts here in the job forums and leap to the conclusion I am biased against employment agencies and employment agents. Nothing could be further from the truth! I do, however, have little or no patience with the small percentage who are crooks. I have some tolerance and empathy for ignorant and incompetent agencies and agents and often go out of my way to show them the path to enlightenment. Alas, some are so clueless, they don't even suspect how clueless they are.

Of all the employment agencies and agents currently operating, I suspect far fewer than 50% are both competent and efficient, with the frankness to tell a candidate the blunt truth when a candidate's resume doesn't support his ambition. There are also a large number of agencies which are either competent OR efficient, but just can't seem to put the two characteristics together.

Effectiveness is the easiest statistic to measure - how many jobs do they fill out of the number they list?

One big agency of my acquaintance tries to set itself apart from its competitors with a program designed to evoke attention from employers and candidates alike with this latest variation on creating a ready pool of "go to" candidates to tempt employers with a possible "quick hire." (Remember, most real decision makers at organizations do not like to linger long in analysis paralysis when filling an open position. Anything an agency can do to convince the employer it can produce good quality candidates to fill an opening in rapid time will move it up in rank in the executive's eyes.)

Thus said, here is an outline of the latest scheme.

WARNING: This agency has in the past been connected with "grooming for employment" scams. I have not investigated every aspect to determine its complete legitimacy. If it operates as stated, it would be a great service - if not, a candidate could end up burning some bridges with potential employers.

I have redacted identifying contact info and will NOT act as a middleman in connecting folks to this agency. I have, however, given enough clues in my job forum postings that a determined candidate could easily discover the identity on his own and make his own approach.

Description TITLE: CEO and President
Salary: 6 figure Base + bonus D. O. Q.


[redacted] is seeking candidates in the Chicagoland area to participate in our "Featured Candidate" program.
There are no fees for becoming a feature candidate. Our placement fees are paid by the employer.
All participating "Feature Candidates" are promoted confidentially until an employer expresses interest in them.
Selected candidates will receive the following benefits:

Benefits:


  • "Feature Candidates" will be considered first ahead of all other candidates when applying for jobs in our system
  • "Feature Candidates" will be promoted confidentially on our corporate website where employers are invited to express interest and if appropriate, our recruiting team will broker the interview
  • "Feature Candidates" will be provided a list of potential employers who are likely to have interest in them and will then be promoted to those employers by our recruiters and if appropriate we will broker the interview
  • "Feature Candidates" will be promoted confidentially to any opportunity they find on their own

"Featured Candidate" Responsibilities:


  • Provide detailed information regarding why they fit a particular job either in or out of our system
  • Aid in the selection of employer targets that may ultimately have interest in their background
  • Aid in the investigation of unique opportunities and be available to answer questions generated by our recruiters
  • Conduct themselves at all times with decorum and integrity


Requirements


  • BSBA Required
  • Master's degree preferred
  • Employed candidates preferred
  • Must not have current interviews pending
  • Minimum of 10 years experience in desired industry or field
  • A broad range of skill sets marketable in multiple disciplines
  • An average of 3 years at each previous employer
  • Willing to consider opportunities regardless of industry
  • A proven track record of significant achievement
  • A minimum of 3 references
  • Possess a résumé that accurately reflects both their quality as a candidate and the appropriate level to the position they seek
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the interview process that accurately reflects both their quality as a candidate and the appropriate level to the position they seek

THIS IS NOT A JOB HUNTING SERVICE
WE FILL POSITIONS FOR EMPLOYERS, WE DO NOT REPRESENT THE CANDIDATE
There is no guarantee or implication that becoming a featured candidate will result in an employer being interested in your qualifications. [redacted] reserves the right to refuse or withdraw "Featured Candidate" status at any time
ALL OF OUR SEARCHES ARE EMPLOYER PAID THERE IS NO FEE TO BECOME A FEATURED CANDIDATE
Note this agency continually mentions ALL fees are paid by employers - there are a lot of agencies out there who provide a similar listing, but expect some sort of compensation from a candidate for the "expense" of maintaining such a list.

Some might balk at the requirement for references. From the agency's point of view, it is putting its reputation on the line each time it proposes a candidate. They want to be sure no skeletons leap out to bite them in the butt. I happen to know this one says it is discreet in dealing with references, but a candidate should always ask HOW the agency will approach a reference and what they will ask and that you have some prior info to give your references about who will call and why a reference should provide references (guard against your references being ambushed and burned out for you for future references.)

I was struck by the phrasing:

  • Provide detailed information regarding why they fit a particular job either in our out of our system
  • Aid in the selection of employer targets that may ultimately have interest in their background
  • Aid in the investigation of unique opportunities and be available to answer questions generated by our recruiters

which affirms the things I've been saying about looking for positions BEFORE they are listed. Note, however, this is research I counsel candidates should be doing on their own anyway. A candidate should wonder if the commission charged by the agency to an employer might tip an employer away from him and toward a candidate who made his own way there without using intermediaries.

THE DISCUSSION FOR THIS THREAD:

  1. What experiences (good or bad) have you had with agencies recently or in the past?
  2. What words of wisdom/experience would you pass on to folks currently in the job hunt regarding agencies (in general or particular, but remember to keep the discussion in a civil tone.)

:topic:
Sad to relate - I had to correct 4 blatant typos in the agency's copy - it diminished my respect for the agency that it did not make more effort to provide error-free text on its web page. There are still grammatical and stylistic discrepancies, but they are not as noticeable as misspellings or use of homonyms (to, too, two) instead of the correct word.
 
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P

Polly Pure Bread

#2
1. What experiences (good or bad) have you had with agencies recently or in the past?
Bad experiences

2. What words of wisdom/experience would you pass on to folks currently in the job hunt regarding agencies (in general or particular, but remember to keep the discussion in a civil tone.)
I suggest that you tap the potential of the web (online job market) as an effective recruitment tool. All you have to do is to post your resume online to look for a job. There are a lot of online recruitment agencies (both good guys and bad guys). Its online postings represent a good cross-section of industries for prospective applicants. The advantage of posting jobs online is the convenience it offers to companies. A company has to upload a job requirement and job matching service automatically notifies qualified people in their user database. This ensures a more targeted and quality-based approach to job recruitment.

:topic:
Sad to relate - I had to correct 4 blatant typos in the agency's copy - it diminished my respect for the agency that it did not make more effort to provide error-free text on its web page. There are still grammatical and stylistic discrepancies, but they are not as noticeable as misspellings or use of homonyms (to, too, two) instead of the correct word.
Well, may the best man win. The time is calling for even more creativity and perseverance, for the ongoing slowdown in overall economic activity will unavoidably hurt many people and businesses. Over the past months, in fact, the number of jobs erased and businesses shuttered has been rising, the experts are saying that this pattern may continue for the rest of this year –possibly even for a good part of next year.


Final words: whether you are a government or private employee, a professional, owner of a small business or adventurous type who wants to try out new things, you should find one or more of income boosting strategies valuable, the so-called 'multiple income streams'.
 
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Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
#3
Bad experiences



I suggest that you tap the potential of the web (online job market) as an effective recruitment tool. All you have to do is to post your resume online to look for a job. There are a lot of online recruitment agencies (both good guys and bad guys). Its online postings represent a good cross-section of industries for prospective applicants. The advantage of posting jobs online is the convenience it offers to companies. A company has to upload a job requirement and job matching service automatically notifies qualified people in their user database. This ensures a more targeted and quality-based approach to job recruitment.



Well, may the best man win. The time is calling for even more creativity and perseverance, for the ongoing slowdown in overall economic activity will unavoidably hurt many people and businesses. Over the past months, in fact, the number of jobs erased and businesses shuttered has been rising, the experts are saying that this pattern may continue for the rest of this year –possibly even for a good part of next year.


Final words: whether you are a government or private employee, a professional, owner of a small business or adventurous type who wants to try out new things, you should find one or more of income boosting strategies valuable, the so-called 'multiple income streams'.
Some good points, but I take issue with your statement:
"All you have to do is to post your resume online to look for a job. "

The mere posting of a resume merely puts you in a pool with hundreds, even thousands of other fish. Worse, you are waiting until a prospective employer knows what he wants in a candidate to fill a position. With the methods I have been espousing, a smart candidate gets to shape the job to fit the candidate's attributes and characteristics by influencing the prospective employer BEFORE he has them set.

Your concept of "multiple income streams" has some merit. The danger is not being excellent at any one single endeavor, but to be merely "competent." This topic of multiple income streams might make a good thread in the coffee break forums.
 
P

Polly Pure Bread

#4
Some good points, but I take issue with your statement:
"All you have to do is to post your resume online to look for a job. "

The mere posting of a resume merely puts you in a pool with hundreds, even thousands of other fish. Worse, you are waiting until a prospective employer knows what he wants in a candidate to fill a position. With the methods I have been espousing, a smart candidate gets to shape the job to fit the candidate's attributes and characteristics by influencing the prospective employer BEFORE he has them set.

Your concept of "multiple income streams" has some merit. The danger is not being excellent at any one single endeavor, but to be merely "competent." This topic of multiple income streams might make a good thread in the coffee break forums.
Hi Mr Wes,

I understand your point. However, as far as I know online recruitments have specific job matching services; it can produce better results by giving companies a targeted audience. As more and more companies migrate to online sourcing, online recruitment can present a good value-for-money proposition because they can give job seeker access to thousands companies. On the other hand, sourcing companies can access to million candidates. This is so much cheaper compare to traditional print advertising and more effective.
Dear Folks,
Any ideas or comments on the large pool of applicants versus the online job postings.
Yes Mr Wes. Please start the thread on multiple income streams.:)
 
T

tyker

#5
I lost my job 10 weeks ago when my employer transferred production to a "low cost " country. Fortunately, with some reserves in the bank, I wasn't too desperate but couldn't afford to be out of work indefinitely.

I did what most would do. Posted my CV on Monster and similar sites, trawled websites for openings and applied if a job looked interesting. I received many phone calls from agencies but it was clear some hadn't read my CV at all. They had seen the words "Quality Engineer" but were talking about work in software or electronics industries where I have no experience.

I suppose the biggest surprise for me was the lack of simple courtesy that I used to take for granted. When I was a recruiting manager, a few years ago, my organization always ensured candidates received a response, even if it was "No thanks". Apart from automated replies from websites, acknowledgements of job applications were non-existent and that was frustrating.

I have a new job now. I saw the ad with an agency and applied on line. The agent rang and interviewed me over the phone. I learned later that he filtered the applications and passed on 12 to his client. 3 were selected for interview. I had my interview with the company concerned the very next day and started work the following week. It's a job I like, it pays better than my previous position and I realise I was lucky. I was out of work for 6 weeks. Most of my previous colleagues are still unemployed.
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#6
THE DISCUSSION FOR THIS THREAD:

  1. What experiences (good or bad) have you had with agencies recently or in the past?
  2. What words of wisdom/experience would you pass on to folks currently in the job hunt regarding agencies (in general or particular, but remember to keep the discussion in a civil tone.)
It's really pretty simple. Most temp agencies are not in business to help jobseekers--they look for candidates to fill positions for their clients, and represent the client, not the jobseeker. There are exceptions, but they generally involve jobseekers paying for the service, and there usually isn't much help to be had in those cases.

As with direct employment, it pays to negotiate. If you have skills or experience that are in demand, agencies and their clients will be flexible.


:topic:Sad to relate - I had to correct 4 blatant typos in the agency's copy - it diminished my respect for the agency that it did not make more effort to provide error-free text on its web page. There are still grammatical and stylistic discrepancies, but they are not as noticeable as misspellings or use of homonyms (to, too, two) instead of the correct word.
We should all make an effort to provide error-free text. To, too and two are homophones, not homonyms. Homonyms are words that are spelled and sound the same but have different meanings.
 
P

Polly Pure Bread

#7
As with direct employment, it pays to negotiate. If you have skills or experience that are in demand, agencies and their clients will be flexible.
With the methods I have been espousing, a smart candidate gets to shape the job to fit the candidate's attributes and characteristics by influencing the prospective employer BEFORE he has them set.
Yeah, I agree. Your reach should exceed your grasp, or what’s a Heaven for?
However, given that you have a doctorate or you are the world’s top expert... but not everyone has the right mix of knowledge, time, skills, attitude, discipline and connections to get hired.
 
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P

Polly Pure Bread

#8
I have a new job now. I saw the ad with an agency and applied on line. The agent rang and interviewed me over the phone. I learned later that he filtered the applications and passed on 12 to his client. 3 were selected for interview. I had my interview with the company concerned the very next day and started work the following week. It's a job I like, it pays better than my previous position and I realise I was lucky. I was out of work for 6 weeks. Most of my previous colleagues are still unemployed.
The early bird catches the worm (the early worms get eaten)
The second mouse gets the cheese (first mouse gets trapped)
Be patient. Trust God for His timing.:)
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
#9
Yeah, I agree. Your reach should exceed your grasp, or what’s a Heaven for?
However, given that you have a doctorate or you are the world’s top expert... but not everyone has the right mix of knowledge, time, skills, attitude, discipline and connections to get hired.
If I didn't pay attention to the precepts I have described, I would have been seriously underemployed my entire career.

There's no material difference between a guy who has a PhD in Zoology [mine] trying to get a job as a business executive and the guy without any college degree [but lots of OTJ experience as foreman and team leader] trying for the same job. The hiring decision will be based on what the candidate can do for the organization.

I've often said that with my degree and $5.00, I can buy coffee and tip the barrista, but not much else. Schools and research facilities are overrun with PhD holders vying for jobs. Very few of the folks who got the same degree I did were still working in a research facility or academia ten years after we got our degrees. Less than a year after my first post as an Associate Professor, I was out of academia for good and had moved over to chemistry and engineering. Success in those fields led to investment banking where I had the longest tenure as an employee of one company.

My "expertise" in quality was fostered in grooming companies for IPOs. When I retired from investment banking, I bought underperforming companies, re-engineered them using quality as a main theme, and sold for profit to buy or invest in the next one. My style was slightly different from a serial entrepreneur in that I didn't start up a company and leave when it became mature, but essentially reinvented an existing company from top to bottom. My real skill, it turns out, was that I could identify changes which were necessary to make a company perform well and then, most importantly, persuade employees, customers, and folks up and down the supply chain to go along with my vision. 99% of the folks I dealt with over the years had no idea I was once awarded a PhD.

The courses I now teach as either a paid adjunct instructor or unpaid volunteer have no connection with my PhD.

Having existing connections helps me in my endeavors, but realize, too, that they haven't been there from time immemorial, but were painstakingly created and maintained over years. I don't just preach Deming's SoPK, I live it. I spend well over half my waking hours learning new things and working out how that new information will affect me or my projects. In the investment banking community, we called it due diligence and we made sure we knew as much as anyone (or more) about EVERYTHING that could affect a target company before we actually rolled out an IPO. Because of that diligence, we never had an offering fail because some surprise information had arrived at the last minute. In many industries, the same activity is called FMEA (failure mode & effects analysis.)

It does take personal discipline and intestinal fortitude to succeed. If you don't have that, then what kind of employee will you make? A smart candidate doesn't put at the top of his resume:
"I am lazy, have few skills, and don't get along with people, but you should hire me anyway. Oh, yeah! I forgot to add I have a bad attitude."

If "not everyone has the right mix of knowledge, time, skills, attitude, discipline and connections to get hired" would it make sense to try to add those traits and characteristics if they would mean greater success in the job hunt? Life isn't static. If one doesn't keep moving forward, one falls behind.

Connections may get one's foot in the door, but that advantage disappears if the person doesn't deliver the goods.

I've delivered seminars to a group labeling itself, "The SOBs." These were a group of guys who recognized they were handed opportunity on a silver platter ("Sons of Bosses"), but didn't want to be the punchline to a joke and made every effort to learn and perform to prove to the world they were worthy of that advantage.

Bottom line:

Whether I, personally, had advantages due to family, education, fraternal associations, race, gender, age, etc. is immaterial. I'm essentially out of the market and fewer than one in one thousand of you would ever be willing to compete against me to consider some of the situations I seek out because they are challenging, not because I need the job or the income.

The concepts and precepts I put forth here in the Cove do not depend on your family connections for them to work for you.
Nobody considering engaging me as a consultant cares about my family connections, they only care about what I will do for them. They have no interest or benefit in appeasing some distant member of my family. All of the banks and financial institutions my family had influence with in the 40s through the 80s have been swallowed up in mergers and acquisitions and any influence long since diluted down near zero. With the last round of bank consolidations and closings, most of the connections and relationships I may have had personally have disappeared, BUT that does not prevent me from making new ones as the need arises.
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
#10
[/LIST]
It's really pretty simple. Most temp agencies are not in business to help jobseekers--they look for candidates to fill positions for their clients, and represent the client, not the jobseeker. There are exceptions, but they generally involve jobseekers paying for the service, and there usually isn't much help to be had in those cases.

As with direct employment, it pays to negotiate. If you have skills or experience that are in demand, agencies and their clients will be flexible.
Absolutely!



We should all make an effort to provide error-free text. To, too and two are homophones, not homonyms. Homonyms are words that are spelled and sound the same but have different meanings.
I knew that! Brain freeze - I think I instinctively avoided the "phone" suffix because I had been listening to a broadcast moments before where the participants were discussing a word with the same prefix and the suffix "phobe" creating my own "phobia." Thanks for pointing out the discrepancy. I will now go off in a corner and repeat 100 times, "I will proofread AND copyread my memos.":bonk:
 
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