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  • TED Catchpole

No agencies please……PLEASE?

“Thank you so much for this I will be in touch with feedback straightaway and a decision when I have one and I will be looking for stuff for you between now an then anyway” — Julia from ********* before I am going for an interview “Please leave a message after the tone, and press one to listen to your message, 3 to delete your message and start again or just hang up to leave your message as it is…beep” – Julia from *********** after the interview

I am starting this because I have had enough. I am trying to be a freelance writer and I have been pushed to this terrifyingly unsecured, financially bonkers, and refreshingly liberating path by the indifference of employers and the fickle polar extremes of employment agencies. Going from irritating pests to Lord Lucan in the space of an interview.

I admittedly am writing this with an expressed tongue in cheek type attempt at wit, but I will bare my soul (what they’ve left of it anyway)

It has been the most painful and upsetting year of my life. I have been offered four jobs since this time last year. Allow me to explain:

Job One: Dead Driver after falling off truck in Yard HSA shut us down

Job Two: Used me to replace previous chap now serving time as after a police sting operation. No contract, no PC, no thanks

Job Three: Bitter ex staff member I once sacked for calling in sick for compassionate reasons citing his parents were dying but was in truth training for a new role, threatened to leave if I was hired

Job Four: On day of starting sent withdrawal of offer letter and cheque for £300 (!) due to "unforeseen circumstances"


So you see I have had a pretty miserable time of it. The above incidents were all very upsetting but I say they are second place to the way I have been made to feel by employment agencies. I will go ahead and say there are exceptions to the rule, but there are enough matches to make it a majority ruling your honour. For example, Carbon60 in Exeter. Alex at Taylor Made in Cheltenham? Fantastic. Arrowe in Liverpool? Disgrace. Now, shall I give the list of bad experiences? No. Not enough room.

So I ask, why do we need agencies? Especially with recent changes in GDPR

making it much more fiddly for an agency to place a candidate. Is it time for reform? I am thinking the answer is yes. to justify this I will ask the first question I think an industry must ask itself:

Is the market flooded? The answer,an overwhelming yes.

Of course the employment agency market is flooded. I grew up in a small town and when I left school there were two. There are now at least fourteen. Why? There are certainly not seven times as many people and most definitely there are not seven times as many jobs.

So why so many? Simple answer is it is very easy to become one. However, so many fly by night operations have realised that it takes both hard work and integrity and they are stuck. Sadly though while it takes said qualities to succeed, it doesn’t necessarily take them to start up and to stay afloat. I know of one girl who is a manager of a chain pub restaurant branch. At weekends and days off, she scours the internet for CVs that match jobs and contacts the candidates and forwards their details on to the jobs that match. They have some copy and paste wiki tips on interview techniques: Such as:

  • Turn up on time, usually aim to get there twenty minutes early, in case of traffic

  • Look them in the eye

  • Dress Smartly

  • Research the company, and come up with questions to ask at the end

  • Do not smoke just before you go in (a particular favourite of mine)

  • Address the interviewer formally, do not use "mate" or any other familiar forms

  • Do not bring up salary until either it is discussed, or at second interview stage.

  • Do not speak negatively about previous employers or companies.

So for these gems, you want 12% of my salary? Ummmmm.........

Whilst they prove you must have a very keen and penetrative understanding of the subtle nuances of NLP and interview dynamics, there is an outside possibility that they are obvious, insulting, and web-fodder that you have lazily tacked on to make it look like you did something I could not have done with a web connection and a phone.

They set up the interviews, yes. Once again, that is done on a smart phone in a few minutes. For that they get a cut, if they are first to show the employer the CV of the successful candidate. Sorry, but that is no honourable way to make a living.

You are dealing with the things that mean people have a home, family, social life, car, holiday, and self respect and you are not giving it the deference it deserves with Delboy tactics and Godaddy basic websites. Don’t even get me started on the company house revelations I find on these sharks

So what do I suggest, get rid of all of them?

No I don’t. I suggest reform. If you have a job and you want a really specific candidate then go to an agency, let them interview for you and whittle it down.

To those looking for workers. As an employer, don’t work with agencies who do not have a premises, do not accept it if they are moonlighting and are just sending you C.V's from a Monster employer login. Make them work. Furthermore if you, as an employer, just want to see what is out there, advertise the job and sift through the applicants yourself. Keep your agent fees and manage the process, or build hiring into someones job in the company already that is struggling to fill a day. A small outlay for a course, teaching the basics of hiring and HR and then its all in house.

Let me put it in a more basic, almost philosophical way: You have a need and a solution. An employer needs an employee and a jobseeker needs a job. They are an organic osmosis waiting to happen.

Put it another way then, if it starts to rain, I will go and buy an umbrella. I am getting wet, and man in a shop has an umbrella, I go and buy it from him. what I don’t do is go to someone in an office 75 miles from the umbrella shop and ask if they can get me in to a shop that has umbrellas. Neither do I listen when I get a call from someone saying, I see you are getting wet, why don’t I speak to a shop I know that is willing to give you a chance to buy an umbrella. I bet agencies say I am oversimplifying it, but I am not, believe me I have gone over this one and I am steadfast. Having said that, its agreed they need to be connected but the situations vacant and jobcentres always did okay. There are many sites.

Believe me employers, you don’t need anyone to encourage us to find you. Put the jobs out there and we will come to you. Don’t swallow any of that nonsense buzzword workshop seminar hyperbole bulls**t the marketing team throw at you saying they will use XYZ to find the perfect person as its all smoke and mirrors. Don’t listen to STAR, it shouldn’t take any reasoning. (see what I did?) If you think humans can be quantified by any system basic enough for the likes of you or I to be able to analyze, then you are either far too confident in your own understanding of baffling psychometric algorithms, or you underestimate the complexities of the human psyche.

Don't be fooled into thinking some smug management-speak soaked trouser-stain can compartmentalise the right candidate for you using a method that is tantamount to the B.F.G catching dreams with his net.

Above: Scroll to see the four stages of agency help: Hey its you....lets go to bat for you,....got you an interview, how did it go (stage three optional).........hello..........hello? Any feedback......hello?




So where do I think it will go? I don’t know. I hope the GDPR thing will encourage to get employers to go direct as candidates are getting sick of having to re sign up every time they go for a job with the same agency after a few months. I don’t know if Brexit will make a difference or not. I was not hoping to solve this one today.

All joking aside I would say to anyone who is an agent; You are dealing with something precious and its very much in our nature that repetition causes erosion. I am no better. If you place a thousand , its easy to forget to chase for feedback on an interview for someone you may never deal with again but you just cannot do that. People are worth more, I am, you are, and you know that, and you know it about everyone else.

It is like being dumped In fact its like being dumped with the words “you’re dumped” in a text message. It really effing hurts Don’t let a person go through that. I don’t care how busy you are. If you really think that I am wrong then I am sorry to say I would rather never deal with you regardless of the job because I am not of your species.

I have my new goal in life, I am aiming to achieve something as a writer. If anyone reading this has any work that would be something I could take a look at, I am new, passionate, keen, and very very cheap. Although I will have to say it……..no agencies please. Not one

#gdpr #freelancer #agency #zerotohero #employment #brexit

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