Should I doubt my awesomeness?
April 15, 2011 8:07 AM   Subscribe

Okay, okay. I started sending out resumes. Now I need some help separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. All of these emails about consulting and contract positions - are they worthwhile, or just recruiter spam?

Per AskMe's previous advice, I put my resume up on Monster and also applied for a few jobs. Within hours, the recruiters started calling and emailing. Now I don't know what to do.

In one case, a local consulting firm wants to add me to their roster and start shopping me out for assignments. I would have to interview for these assignments, I only get paid while on assignment, and the firm wants a period of exclusivity. In other cases, I get emails with a specific contract job description and the name of a recruiter to contact if I am interested. All in all, I've been contacted by about 15 recruiters in the last week.

While this is a total ego boost in one respect, I can't tell if these jobs are worthwhile or even legitimate. When I contrast the recruiter response with the permanent positions I have applied for and not heard back from at all, it makes me a little suspicious. Do people actually get jobs this way? Are they just cold-calling every resume that appears? Is it worth my time to even respond to these?

I have another question about whether project management consulting is a good direction for me (coming from a permanent position). Maybe that should be its own AskMe, but any insight on consulting would be welcome too.
posted by fanta_orange to Work & Money (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Be leery of, and read the small print on, those exclusivity deals. "Exclusivity" can sometimes mean "even if you see another job posting at this same company from a different source a year from now you cannot apply for it except through us".

Recruiters are basically car salesmen; they only get paid if and when you work, so they keyword-fish on Monster and other sites and if your resume comes up in their keyword search they contact you. I've been contracting for about 10 years now, and the best advice I can give you would be to find one or two recruiters you trust and stick with them. Local is good - national firms tend to focus on churning people through and making money on volume, while local firms tend to develop longer-term relationships with people.

Any recruiter worth his or her reputation will be happy to meet with you in person to learn a bit more about you, what your career goals are, and that sort of thing. Set up a couple lunches - they'll buy - and interview them as much as companies will interview you.

To answer your question: A lot of the emails you're getting are indeed recruiter spam. But take a few minutes with the ones that sound intriguing and follow up with them, just to see what they can and will do for you.

Good luck.
posted by pdb at 8:22 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Dude, these are temp agencies calling you. Those are exactly the terms a temp agency asks for from its employees.

That said, I got my current job through a temp agency. It definitely can be a foot in the door - if you go in to an assignment and wow the pants off them, and they will bend over backwards to keep you on.

If the fit isn't right, you move on to the next place.

It's kind of a good gig, actually. But like pdb says, pick your agency with extreme care. Get recommendations from friends as to the most reputable ones and go with those.
posted by LN at 8:24 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Agree with pdb. But also keep in mind that in this economy that a lot of companies are hiring through agencies because they can save money by not having you as a full-time employer (background checks, benefits, etc).
posted by KogeLiz at 8:26 AM on April 15, 2011

Employee I meant
posted by KogeLiz at 8:27 AM on April 15, 2011

I went through the wringer with trying to get a lot of those kinds of assignments, and nothing ever panned out. Body-shop-wise, if your resume doesn't end up matching the spec exactly, you get shuffled away.

If you want to stay independent, getting onto a bigger company's W-2 list should be a focus. I work for a consulting company (non-body shop, more SME financial services/technology), and started as a W-2, then got hired full time. The sub contractors get peanuts, since the agency usually takes a large chunk of the fee.

That being said, if the jobs sound interesting, no reason not to throw your hat into the ring. I'd argue off the exclusivity clause, though, and if they insist, move on and go elsewhere.
posted by rich at 8:33 AM on April 15, 2011

I don't have any experience with recruiters, but I do happen to work in fraud prevention and I see a lot of (really smart, qualified) people get caught up in scams. Hopefully everything I'm telling you is stuff you have already heard/common sense, but here goes:
-Fraudsters DO hang out on sites like Monster and Careerbuilder, and they do make contact by email and even by phone sometimes.
-Be extremely leery of anything that asks you to work from home, period.
-Insist on meeting your employer in person. If the person offering you a job tells you they are traveling, or are located overseas, it's probably a scam.
-Don't print out checks at home. We have yet to hear of a legit job that asks people to do this.
-Almost any job that asks you to do any type of shipping from your home is a scam. Typical ones that we see are "personal assistant" or "online concierge" jobs that ask people to mail "business documents" and payroll checks or money orders. Also common are jobs that ask you to receive merchandise at your home, repackage it, and ship it to another address. All fraud.
-Don't do anything that involves wiring or transferring money.
-Employers are not allowed to ask you your sex, gender, marital status, age, birthdate, if you have children, etc. Scammers will often send you an employment application that asks for these things.
-Above all, trust your gut. I cannot tell you how many times I have talked to otherwise intelligent professionals who said, "Well, I thought that was odd, but I really needed the job/money."
Good luck with your job search!
posted by catwoman429 at 9:06 AM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

This job is like prospecting a new hire. I hope to God this company will be managing your appointments for you. If they make you cold-call, just walk away. I would suggest that you look at your own network and decide if you need to be part of a firm to approach them for consulting assignments. Even if you were to do work for your friends or family you may have a better understanding of niche markets and could theoretically grow your own firm or remain self-employed for the long-term, which may be a better way at maintaining the quality of life you have now if you choose to make it sustainable for present occupation.

Making yourself aware of your unopposed combination roles, i.e. writer-fundraiser or website builder-social scientist where you are essentially showing an ability to market services while seeking a more creative long-term role. It will be emotional labor, some is distressing but the right combination pays dividends in the first four years, my own research shows.

Getting into a bigger company now is difficult unless you can afford a costly internship route. I would not apply for internships in the current economy. I would look for work or go to school and find or start a consultative position working for partnerships with educators. It's tough work but it's usually a better deal for everyone. Another self-employment option is to commit to being a social enterprise and use part of your profits to fund a voluntary outreach program for some activity related to your ideal position in the community. That sounds crass I know, but it is a good early goal and you should exploit opportunities to live the life you imagine.

If you can do it, I would sell myself as early as possible to companies that look well in your ideal position. That way you can apply changes you would like to see to the realm of your choice with a new consulting team behind you. It could be a good way of developing rapport when you either move to a firm that has many of your ideal position(s) or start your own firm. Think of your practices as the references for the emotions of the tool. Tool being an object's ideal ability to be used for work.

Because you will be a consultant you have the ability to be candid and sincere about your professional interests and your ideal position. Feel free to share what you have done to cultivate your ideal position, because you will probably be asked to discuss what business you may bring after you start. Act as a cause leader for your interest in the ideal position and discuss the kinds of companies that could be consulted.

Project management consulting is not a really great field, I think. It tends to be driven by HR that may be different from your ideal position. You have the opportunity to search out firms that do consulting in your own area and make a pitch to come in on the best offer you have from any other firm. This will probably tickle them to know someone serious is banging on the door. I would make the call when you are sure and then come in person and declare who you are. I know this will sound rash but in this market calls for action are the only way to develop the kinds of rapport necessary for occupational transformation.
posted by parmanparman at 9:12 AM on April 15, 2011

To counter parmanparman's comment - there seems to be continued need for IT-focused project managers, at least in the financial services and healthcare sectors. My company is continuously looking for good PM's, and the client I'm at now has been hiring PM's into full-time roles heavily.

The key thing here is to make sure you have the range of PM skills - from waterfall to Agile, to dashboarding and issue tracking.

To answer your main questions, though;

- do people get jobs this way? Yes, but it's a bit of a hit or miss because;

- are they just cold calling every resume that appears? Many do, yes. They're do a search on specific words/terms, and everyone that fits those words gets an email. Then they weed people out, and then ask people to 'tweak' their resume to fit the job, then submit a stack in to the company. The company then sorts through them and either gets back to that recruiter or doesn't - because either their friend referred someone in, or they have 2 other recruiters sending them stacks of resumes, as well

- is it worth your time? Yes, if the job sounds like a potential fit. Ignore ones that don't, and try to forge some relationships with the recruiters that actually get you interviews, even if those interviews don't pan out, which most won't (just like the majority of your responses will seem like you are being ignored)

- you will not hear back from most companies for perm or other positions. Be ready for that. But, you can increase your chances by applying directly on the company website, and using Linked In to find people in your network that work at that company and asking them to put your resume in for you.
posted by rich at 10:10 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ask them what happens if you sign an exclusivity agreement and they don't find you any work.
posted by rhizome at 10:12 AM on April 15, 2011

temp agencies or recruiters need you to be exclusive to them only for the particular job for which they think you are a good fit. You don't want multiple agencies submitting you for the same job. That is an automatic disqualifier from the employer's standpoint because they do not want to be the referee deciding who submitted you first. You do not want to or have to sign anything that mentions exclusivity.

Temp agencies etc. are like car dealerships; it is all about the number of resumes they have on file. Do ask if they have an exclusive with any prospective employer, or if they have placed other people there, and ask if you can contact them. If they say no to the former it may still be OK to go with them especially if it is a larger agency like Kelly IT, Robert Half or Winter Wyman etc. If they say that you cannot contact anyone they've placed then walk away.

Also after a period of time these calls and emails will dry up. That is when you should go back onto Monster or Career Builder and refresh your resume. Post a new one and make it public. Probably every two or three weeks.
posted by Gungho at 10:25 AM on April 15, 2011

Response by poster: To clarify, the exclusivity period asked for by the local firm was only for two weeks immediately after they have "prepared" me (rewrite my resume, prepare a video interview). I think it's for the reasons that Gungho mentions, because it was exclusivity limited to positions at a certain set of clients.

The recruiter at the local firm did have me in for a chat and is willing to put me in touch with other consultants so I can get some more information. They seem like a good company and every interaction I have had so far has been good. I guess I'm just not sure if I want to go the consulting route.

It's helpful to hear that most of these recruiters are just looking to bolster their resume numbers.

Any other insights on consulting vs. permanent, especially relationing to project management/business analysis?
posted by fanta_orange at 2:32 PM on April 15, 2011

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