As more people are slowly discovering the internet and online tools are not the be-all, universal solution as some would have you believe when it comes to looking for a job, increasingly they are turning to third parties to expand their chances for success. It is a good idea to add more dimension to your efforts rather than relying upon only one primary method, reminding me of the saying that I’ll paraphrase, which suggests “…if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." Anyone who finds oneself looking for a new job should be utilizing a combination of methods to help themselves, which may include third-party help, but be aware it does not mean you hand off your responsibility to someone else. You are seeking help, which does not include playing Hot Potato, tossing your problems to others.
When I refer to third parties I am speaking of employment agencies, temp-to-perm services, recruiters, headhunters, etc. I am not speaking of your own personal contacts or referrals as a result of your networking activities -- yet another activity you should be engaged in, by the way. However, anytime you will entrust another to act and speak on your behalf they become an extension of you, and so you need to set some parameters because, if you don’t, you could be putting yourself in a worse situation than you may already find yourself. Let me explain.
When you work through a proxy, someone helping to represent your interests, in reality you may need them more than they might need you, but it does not mean you should not make clear the parameters of cooperation. I apply a lot of extra caution when I meet with people I may or may not represent. You might find it a little odd when I say I neither enter nor do I exit a meeting place at the same time with whomever I meet. I live in a market where I am known, and word travels fast if someone is spotted meeting with a headhunter. In 20 years no one’s job has been put in jeopardy as a result of interaction with me nor any recruiter who has worked for me. But to be sure, here are some examples of what can happen if you don’t set the parameters of your working relationship:
- A company will tell me they already have the resume of someone I am representing and the candidate / applicant is not aware of it. This means an employment agency representative or recruiter sent their resume without permission. How many other resumes are floating around of which you are not aware of?
- A third party or a company sends an email to someone’s work email address with a job opportunity. If your employer becomes aware of this email now or later in your archives, might it cause an awkward situation at your workplace?
- An agency sends your resume to potential employers without your permission. What if it goes by accident to a direct competitor and subsequently comes to the attention of your boss?
- A third party promises confidentiality and sends your resume as a blind resume, which means they merely removed your name, address and names of the companies listed on your resume but left all other info intact. Clearly any half-wit with knowledge in your market sector can connect the dots and easily figure out who the altered resume represents.
- Perhaps your resume has references listed and a third party representative who claims to want to help you starts calling your references without getting permission or notifying you? This can also potentially make things uncomfortable for you.
- Perhaps you receive calls at all hours about jobs and possibilities you would not normally respond to or pursue on your own. Perhaps you were vague about what kind of opportunity you seek or gave no guidance to those who now have your resume and represent your interests.
- Perhaps you hear nothing and cannot get a reply from an agency where you submitted your resume in their database. If you randomly sent your resume no one has any reason to call you and, furthermore, you have no idea who has your resume in case any of the aforementioned scenarios take place.
Look, there are very many good, dedicated and sincere people working on behalf of people like you. But there are also dirtbag low-lifes who see you only as a commodity with a fee attached; a piece of meat and not much more. The best way to separate the two is to:
- Try to determine and engage with whomever might represent your interests in more than a 5-minute conversation. After all they are acting as your ambassador, your agent and your face in the marketplace so, if they are oily and slick, well, how do you think you’ll be represented.
- Make it clear that no version of your resume will be sent anywhere without your prior approval for each opportunity for which they want to consider you.
- Provide parameters for the kinds of job opportunities for which you have an interest; go so far as to name lists of companies for which you’d be interested, as well as any for which you would not have an interest in working.
- Be strict about how you will be contacted and when, use a personal email address only (never a company address) and provide windows for when to call and at what number(s).
By attaching these conditions you will prevent unwanted surprises and if you find someone isn’t willing to respect these basic parameters, thinks you are too demanding and won’t work with you – keep looking until you find someone who will. You’re better off representing yourself than you are by someone who can cause more harm than good.
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