Staffing professionals are not inherently evil.
However, I’ve received many unsolicited calls over the past few weeks from a few questionable ones, representing junior to mid-level job seekers. These reps had a cheap slickness to their voice, opaqueness in their disclosures, and a tendency to do little homework on me, or my company, before calling. They tried to create artificial demand for their clients, but their hustling style indicated they actually knew very little about the people they were representing. I know, I know… give them a break. They’re working hard to make a living, just like everybody else. And they are.
But I’m not here to address the staffing industry. I’m here to warn job seekers about letting slimy staffing professionals, like the ones who recently contacted me, do the very important, hard work of job searching for them. Why? It just doesn’t do well for your reputation and professional outlook when shady salespeople, or even great ones, make the first impression on your behalf.
When you don’t make the outbound effort yourself, it suggests you don’t really care — that you don’t have the courtesy or desire to initiate a relationship with the very people you may spend many rewarding years working with. I don’t care how good or scarce your talents may be, outsourcing your job search signals you’re someone who passes up personal, high-stakes legwork to someone else you don’t know that well. It also says you’re comfortable throwing a hefty commission charge to the company you want to join — simply for hiring you.
In most cases, these conditions are tainting. As a result, many employers will go out of their way to avoid you. Not all, but many. Perhaps most. That person who made the first impression on your behalf might’ve also just made the last.
And I’m not alone. I’ve talked to many peers, and one thing is clear: If you’re passionate about working with a great company – as so many search representatives tell me of their job-seeking clients – then you should get out of your seat and personally engage. Period.
When you are ready to engage, here are a few checkpoints to ensure you put your best foot forward. They’ll cultivate a meaningful exchange — and, perhaps, establish the beginning of a fruitful working relationship:
- Do extensive research on the company; get to know it inside and out.
- Decipher what the greatest risks and opportunities are for the business.
- Apply your imagination and critical thinking to identify risk resolutions and specific ways to leverage opportunities. Put in a plan.
- Be ready to share your thinking as a welcoming gesture and investment in the relationship.
- Develop a sound viewpoint on what your contributions and accountabilities might be to the company and team. How, specifically, will you hit the ground on day one?
- Educate yourself on exactly what you’re worth and what you want out of the relationship. Identify that fine line between humility and confidence.
- Make an assessment about the company’s record and values, and then determine if they truly align with yours. In the end, culture matters.
If you cover these bases, then your chances for a successful working relationship with a great company are tremendous. And certainly far greater than what any cold-calling staffing professional could ever make on your behalf. At the least, you will bolster your reputation and karma, and establish new connections.
Even better, you will not risk damaging your reputation, or erode opportunity — by letting somebody else do your work for you.
The above also was my latest MediaPost column…