This week's Q&A
Should I pay to apply for a job?
I am a 23 year-old recent college graduate, and this week I have
applied to this employment company — let's call them ABC
Professionals for now. Neither my parents nor any of their friends
have heard of them. They seem like good people who genuinely want to
help me with my job search. They operate by being the middleman
between their clients who pay them to recruit good employees, and
people like me looking for employment. I will get my paychecks from
ABC Professionals as their employee, and not from the places that I
will be working at. They also want me to pay $73.00 for a background
check before I start working for them.
Gotcha: You'll never work in this town again!
An NCA (non-compete agreement) can send your career off the
Have you ever signed an NCA? Do you know how to stay in
control of your career?
Readers hash it out on The
Blog. Chime in!
What do you think of this? Is this type of operation considered to
be a normal practice? Does it seem to be a legitimate way to find
As new grads hit the job market, there's an entire industry of
scammers waiting for them. You need to be especially careful in this
economy about getting fleeced.
There are legitimate firms that put people on their own payrolls
then farm them out to other companies — their clients. They call
themselves consulting firms, job shops, and contractors. If you're
going to work with one, your challenge is to make sure it's legit.
My buddy Scott Henty wrote an excellent article about this: Consulting
Jobs Primer. While Scott's company specializes in
information technology, his tips are relevant to
almost any business.
I have two concerns about the firm you're talking about. First, job
shops don't usually hire new grads. They go for seasoned professionals because employers need help finding specialized skills.
Don't take offense, but new grads are a dime a dozen. (I've been there
myself!) Why would any company pay a "consulting firm" to bring it new grads?
Something's wrong here.
Second, don't pay a fee to apply for a job, including to cover the
cost of a background check. If they believe they can
assign you to one of their clients, they should absorb that as their
cost of doing business. It's suspicious. Anyone who wants you to pay
for a job is suspicious.
Here's what I'd do. Check their references. Talk to five or six
significant companies in your town; companies where you'd love to work
given the opportunity. Call the HR department in each. Ask them, do
they do business with this firm? Do they know the firm?
If these companies do not deal with this firm or if they cannot
provide you with a good reference, I'd walk away. The
alternative is to ask the firm for references — what companies does
it do business with? Then I'd call those companies to check. I would
not call the names the firm provides. I would call the HR department
and make a clean inquiry to avoid getting a biased or
There are lots of scams out there. Know who you're dealing with
before you invest your time. Be very careful. Maybe this firm is so
successful that it can afford to charge fees to job applicants, but "employers"
who want you to pay them are highly suspicious.
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Thank you for writing articles that actually provide good advice to job
seekers. So many "authorities" out there say the same thing, and don't
really contribute anything new to the conversation. I always learn something
when I read your articles!
Oh, Yeah! I love success stories, thank you's, and examples of how Ask The Headhunter worked for you. Don't hold back:
Please share your comments.
How to Say It
I'm ready for a regular job!
I have my own business but like so many other small
businesses I can't keep it afloat, so I am re-entering the
job market. I have been on a few interviews. I feel I have
done well, but I don't know how to answer the question,
"Why are you looking for a position with us when you
have your own business?"
How to Say It: "I've done what I set out to do. I tried my hand
at my own business. I'm glad I did it, but I'm done with that phase of my
career. Now I appreciate how every part of an operation contributes to
profitability. I know what I'm not good at, and I learned that without putting
any employer at risk. I also know what I'm very good at — the work
we're discussing. The work you need done is the work I want to do, not anything
else. That's my commitment to you. I don't think most people can honestly say
Don't know How to Say It? Send
me your quandary and we'll try to tackle it! (Please don't confuse this
feature with Q&A topics, which are about advice. This is about how to say
Old, skilled & locked out
A reader asks the Forum: I have 30 years' experience up to the VP
level in 4 of America's top 10 ad agencies. My next career step is with one of
the Top 100 advertisers. They tell me to go to their website to view open
positions and apply. Maybe this is a polite way to say I’m too old. I've
mailed letters and an index card with my elevator pitch on one side and the
logos of impressive firms I've done advertising for on the reverse. I'm out of
ideas. Is there a way to get past the gatekeeper (in this case their careers
how stupid do you think employers are? I know my answer. What I want is fresh answers and advice for this reader from
We've taken this discussion to the blog, where you can post your
Got a topic? Something to get off your chest? Something on which you'd like input from other readers?
Send it here.
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can help! Just ask
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