Our columnists share their distaste for some technical staffing companies.
writing to see if I’m alone in my distaste for technical staffing. I’m
on the job search now. I visit all the main sites, and 95 percent of
the positions posted are through technical staffing companies. When
you interview with a “staffing” company, you don’t get a feel for the
actual company and you don’t know what benefits you’re going to get.
The proposed company could be some struggling business that shuts down
in two months. Do you agree, or am I just crazy in my distaste for staffing
- By Greg Neilson
—Christopher Rey Henson, MCP, A+
Neilson says: I have to agree with both you and Steve. I have to
add, though, it is pretty unrealistic to think that staffing companies
will be stupid enough to disclose the name of the employer before they
know a great deal about you, think that there may be a fit, and have you
signed to a contract. After all, their knowledge that a position exists
is the only asset they have. In general, headhunters are to be avoided
if possible, for the reasons that Steve has discussed.
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dangerous scenario about headhunters is that some of the more unscrupulous
(or perhaps I should say careless?) ones often don’t bother to check with
you first before submitting your resume. This can lead to a couple of
unfortunate situations: Perhaps your resume ends up submitted to the same
company by multiple headhunters or, worse, your resume is submitted back
to your own employer. So, while it’s true that some of these staffing
companies are worthwhile, you need to be careful of handing your resume
to anyone. My tendency is to assume that all of these guys are turkeys—unless
you have had one recommended to you by someone you trust.
with employers is a great thing and something I continually mention here.
It implies you have done research about the company and know why you want
to work there (as opposed to just blindly approaching anyone who can give
you a job). You can also use the fact that you saved them the commission
from a staffing company when negotiating a starting salary or signing
of direct contact is that you may have a better chance of sidestepping
HR folks and get straight to the people who have the power to hire you.
HR people have a great grasp of HR issues, but — more often than not —
they don’t understand our industry very well and aren’t able to read through
your resume and understand how your skills and experience could benefit
the company. Sure, they can look out for keywords such as “MCP,” “MCSE”
or “NT” and determine how many years of experience you have, but they
probably can’t evaluate your potential worth to the company. Worse still,
for your case, these people will err on the conservative side and tend
to screen you out rather than screen you in. On the other hand, a hiring
manager usually understands exactly what your resume contains and is in
a better position to evaluate if you might be useful to the organization.
As you progress
in your career, you’re going to make many friends in the industry, and
this is another rich source of information about employers — both those
to avoid and those to pursue. And, better than that, it’s very common
now for employers to pay a referral bonus to their existing employees
when they successfully refer someone to the company. My current employer
pays a $4,000 bonus, but I’ve seen others that award overseas trips or
even the chance to win a sports car. For employers, this is a very inexpensive
way to bring talented people into the business and is typically a lower
risk than hiring someone off the street. That is, you know from your friend
what the company is like and — as employers realize — high-performing
people tend to stick together. So, if your friend is a star, then it’s
highly likely he’s referring another star for the company.
leave a company I’m working for, I always ask them where they’re going
next. If I know them well enough, I might also ask them why they picked
that particular role or employer. This can help me better understand the
market in the local area and may suggest some alternatives I might not
have otherwise considered. Of course, most of these may not suit my aspirations
or situation, but I won’t know unless I ask.
shown good judgment in staying away from these staffing companies, so
I’m sure you’ll continue to do well out there!
Greg Neilson, MCSE+Internet, MCNE, PCLP, is a Contributing Editor for MCP Magazine and a Professional Development Manager for a large IT services firm in Australia. He’s the author of Lotus Domino Administration in a Nutshell (O’Reilly and Associates, ISBN 1565927176).