The Desk

September 11, 2017

Getting in the Temp Agency Door

The New Workforce

The New Workforce

At one point in time, getting formal temporary work was simply a matter of finding an agency. Well, actually, a little more than that. It was necessary to actually go in and fill out an employment application so that you could become a registered candidate. Then there were screening tests followed by an interview with the agency recruiter. Finally, you were asked about your availability and walked out with (1) a couple of time sheets in order to keep track of the hours you worked for (2) the job you were going to start doing the next business day.

In the Last Century

No, it wasn’t necessary to make an appointment. Having a resume was a nice thing to have. It showed a modicum of professionalism but more importantly, it showed you were prepared to work and show your work history.

Things changed a bit, but not drastically. The industry had little bearing on the protocol. It didn’t matter if it was office, labor, construction, nursing, or care giving. The routine was still the same. Labor agencies were even less formal. Simply go in, register, if the drop-in was not for the first time, simply put your name on the sign-in sheet, then sit and wait to be called for the next job.

Client Priority Changes

Some clients strove to streamline and formalize their operations. Their usual mode was to use their informal registration of applying to work via referral or emailing a resume and cover letter. They contacted their database of past workers to learn whether they were available for the next regular project and then did an new orientation. There was outreach for new workers who were sought by small advertisements and solicited referrals. But some decided to remove the paperwork and management from their workload. They turned to temp agencies to handle the administrative side of the employment issues. So the cadre of workers were required to register with the contracted agency during a registration period. The rest of the steps were the same.

New Game Plan

Sometime between 2008 and May 2017, the manner of working with an agency (from the worker’s side of the picture) changed. No more drop in, complete the application, go through testing, and walk out with a time sheet. Instead, applicants are now discouraged from even going into the agency office.

Instead, the applicant goes to the agency’s website and completes an application that’s accompanied by the applicant’s uploaded resume. In July, Joe Cummings, CEO, President, and owner of Royal Staffing, posted to LinkedIn by encouraging those who were seeking work to do so through his agency. The campaign was very similar to a current one that says, “Looking for a job? If so, we’re looking for you. Make your life easier and visit http://www.royalstaffing.com Look at the great opportunities we have waiting for you or someone you know.” What a great opportunity to find out how to be found. So I asked him to explain the new intake process used for registering temporary candidates.

“What we have our candidates do is fill out the online application. We reach out to each and every one of them once the applications received… If the applying candidate has the skills and a good work history for our niche market, we schedule an appointment for them to come in and interview. Prior to them coming in we do send them the assessment tests online and they complete them at home before they come into the office.”

This is now the protocol used by all agencies. Joe added some cautionary advice here. “[T]he job seeker is also responsible for following up on his or her application submittals to potential employers. The old adage still is very much alive today, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

But, What About?

There are still unanswered questions. This also begs the question of how the application / resume needs to be constructed in order to get temporary work – not gig work, just the fill-in stuff that used to be “easy-peasy”, walk in, take a test and complete forms, walk out with a time sheet and an assignment for the next day (and a paycheck the next week!).

Since there was no response by the end of June, I turned to the American Staffing Association to seek information. I explained my association and standing with the organization and asked for clarification about the change in protocol for registering with an agency. The burning questions were, “When did this practice begin and what is the reasoning for it?” Well, there’s been no response.

Digital and Modernization

Perhaps the reason for the change has to do with cost containment as well as the fact that we now do so much in a digital format. As each year since September 11, 2001 has passed, the need for security increases. Perhaps this manner of applying for work via the Internet has a small amount of attention to security issues. There is less need for office space and equipment so overhead is also reduced. Does that in turn mean that the contract workers can enjoy a small pay increase? It’s hard to say.

In the past, workers would choose an agency that was geographically easy to reach. At the end of the week, they could leave the work site and go directly to the agency office to drop off the verified time sheet. That also meant the previous week’s check could be held for them (not mailed) so they could personally receive it and handle it in whatever manner was necessary for their needs. Are checks now done via direct deposit? Security, as mentioned before, is growing to more than just physical site issues. Cybersecurity is now an important business concern. So perhaps that modicum of pay increase because of reduced overhead got absorbed by the expense of shoring up the vulnerabilities from the different weak spots. More open issues with no explanations.

The Same but Different

What remains is applying to work for more than a quick project now requires greater amount of formality. Yes, people do take vacations, go into hospital or take a leave of absence. Some employers manage the contingency by hiring one or two extra staff who have flexible skills. (That can become expensive over the long run.) And contingency work is still a great way to try out the talent before extending an offer of employment (also known as “temp to hire”) to get a 360, in-house evaluation of the talent. If the situation isn’t a good match, at least the “supply chain” of work continued without the usual interviewing / screening / onboarding interruptions created by traditional hiring methods.

And perhaps this is why the gig economy is not only growing but thriving today.

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May 4, 2016

Interests and Hobbies for Distinction

Filed under: Hiring,Job Search,Recruiting — Yvonne LaRose @ 3:38 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

An article recently came to my attention. The recommendations were dubious. Then an opportunity to share the knowledge with a group of recruiters arose. The group shared my reservations. The recommendation was to include one’s interests and hobbies on the resume and profile in order to distinguish special skills and stand out among the competition. The article proposed that the interests and hobbies would indicate particular strengths and abilities that can be used as indicia of success in the job that needs to be filled. dreamstimefree_14073429

The group of recruiters voiced opinions on the matter:

  • “I don’t normally pay attention to that section.”
  • It doesn’t really have any relevance to the job that’s on my desk
  • “I don’t use it.”

Job seekers are looking for whatever they can use to set themselves apart in a positive way. No doubt they will read that same article and believe that the advice applies to all job searches of whatever type and all manner of positions. After a lot of research in order to re-locate the correct article, one rose to the surface that made some distinguishing points about using hobbies and interests. They are helpful when the position is in a more esoteric area that requires unique skills that indicate traits such as perseverance, attention to detail, impervious to high levels of stress.

But what about the company that needs to fill a vacancy for a position in a special needs school? The person who knows and is able to use sign language may list that as a language skill and hobby in light of the fact that they do volunteer work at the John Tracy Clinic.

When we speak of job search, there’s an automatic default to ideas about jobs in the office. However, there are many types of jobs in different industries. A person could have a strong interest in health and medicine but they don’t want to be involved in working on people. There are also animals that require similar services. What about forestry as an option. Or that same person simply doesn’t want to be involved in health services but has a strong interest and keen skills in computers and programming. Perhaps their path to success is in the health sciences arena at a hospital or health facility.

So the candidate loves DIY projects. Could that mean they’re good a analysis, have strong concentration and focus skills, and are good at interpreting diagrams? Maybe there’s a niche for them in some form of construction or machine work.

The world of work is becoming increasingly complicated in regard to qualifying for a position and simply getting in the door. Occupations that you wouldn’t think of as requiring a resume now use that tool as part of the entry point. Do hobbies and extracurricular activities have a place and purpose on the resume or application? At times, they do. But they need to be used strategically if they are used at all. Sometimes they can become the bullet that shot the high school cheerleader who is applying for a mid-level management position in the foot. She’s remembered decades after leaving her application but not for the reasons she intended.

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June 7, 2015

Repetition

There's no course on job search

There’s no course on job search

Not long ago I heard a complaint from one of the industry’s more vintage and distinguished recruiters. (I’ll paraphrase.)

“This business would be a lot more interesting if we could get past the how to write a resume and cover letter stuff. And it would be much better if we didn’t spend so much time on how to interview. Why do we have to go through this so much? It should be obvious!”

True enough, it should be obvious to those of us who’ve been around the block several times. But there are a lot of dynamics that are driving the actual need to have this “wisdom” regurgitated on a regular basis. Let’s look at a few of them today.

Babies

For some reason, people keep having babies. Then they send them off to school to learn all the basics – except for how to write a resume and cover letter, how to interview, how to go to work. Somehow, that information is supposed to get distilled before graduation from high school but it doesn’t. So we have these quasi-adults meandering around looking for meaning that’s associated with their existence and wondering where they belong. Some of them get recruited to things such as gangs, sports, lured into competing for a slot on America’s Got Talent or The Voice or any number of other things that bring some form of recognition and prestige. And some of them try to figure out how to get on Survivor or Big Brother. The thing of it is, no one told them they’ll still need to pass the interview to get accepted on the entertainment scene.

We need to keep doing the stories about how to write a resume as well as how to write a cover letter because there are millions added to the next generation on a daily basis. None of them know this and it essentially isn’t taught in school – not middle school, not high school, and sort of in college but that’s a bit late.

Technology

The way we do things in business is constantly evolving. At one time, you just walked into a business and asked whether or not they were hiring. If there was a possibiity of a situation, someone in charge would talk to the person and do some informal screening. Provided the conversation went well, there was a get hired on the spot moment with a start date that ranged from that instant to maybe a couple of days later so that appropriate clothing could be gathered.

Today, things don’t work on the same principle. We’ve stopped walking into the business and asking for work. We’ve, for the most part, even stopped scouring the classifieds for “Situations” because they’re now online at various websites and company Careers sections. Networking sites now offer information about open positions, with details about more specifics.

The rules of the game for submitting applications have also changed. Even with temporary staffing agencies, you now set up an interview time online. Going into the office is a necessity for the sake of completing some of the paperwork and taking the computer administered tests to assess where one’s strongest skills are. (Yes, the screening process is still intact.)

Actually, there’s a very subtle reason for continuing to have the applicant come into the office. Those who show up, and show up on time, have demonstrated an genuine interest in pursuing the opportunity. Those who do not show up, have an excuse about why they aren’t there, are running late, need to reschedule, have lowered their seed position and will need to make a very strong showing when they do get to the office for the in-person screening and interview. And getting into the office is yet another way to evaluate how well the applicant follows instructions.

Fashion

Because we’ve become more accepting of cultural differences, styles that are acceptable for interviewing are beginning to change. What used to be proper attire for Sabbath and not for the office has become appropriate for either venue. How many applicants as well as recruiters and human resource managers are aware of this fashion evolution is still to be determined. However, it is a certainty that finding some lawsuit that challenges failure to hire based on wearing traditional garb will be easy.

En Masse Education

It isn’t always the applicant who needs a verse or so of the hiring mantra. Recruiters could stand a refresher course in what is acceptable. Those who are new to the industry would do well to take time for getting refreshed on what is involved in sourcing, screening, and hiring the right person. Even the government is trying to work out that formula to everyone’s satisfaction. And there’s still the ‘know thy industry’ caveat.

There are a lot of factors that go into the formula for making a successful application for a job. With each advancement in technology, with each new birth each year, there will be more people who need to learn how to apply and more who need to know how to select the right one. Suffice it to say that for each employer or recruiter or manager, there are that many people who have their own idea of who a resume and cover letter should be formatted. It’s all subjective; it takes a lot of sifting in order to get to the standard and then to get to what’s right. And for those who have been at this for a while, it’s important to have refreshers. Today we briefly looked at three aspects of the job search and why these topics keep coming up as repetitious coaching subjects.

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