Is this staffing agency legit?
April 22, 2011 8:18 AM   Subscribe

Help me decide if a contract staffing agency is legit. Google has turned up nothing.

OMG my first question, so exciting.
I received a call today from a gentleman from Wits Solutions, a staffing agency (their website is the first Google hit), offering to submit me for a contract position with a major company (in the US, and I am in the US). He said they found my resume on Monster, which sounds reasonable as I do use it. However, I've never heard of "Wits Solutions" and Google is turning up nothing other than their job ads and their website. The site is quite large and well-built - it looks a bit too intensive for a scam - but I can't find a physical address.
I also tried contacting the company the contract would be with, but their HR department appears to get Good Friday off so no one's in today (so I sent an email as well).
The agency wants me to send them my resume/cover letter and a form saying they are the only ones submitting me for this job (exclusivity contract, not that odd as far as agencies go IMO), but he's really anxious that I get it to him today, like right now. He's called back to ask about it 3 times since I spoke to him an hour ago.
I don't want to submit *anything* until I do some research and find out if this is a) a real agency with a real position and b) a decent agency to work for - paid on time etc.
Any suggestions or info for me? Thanks guys!
posted by dust.wind.dude to Work & Money (11 answers total)
The desperation and pressuring (calling back three times in an hour) are pretty good indications that there's something shady going on. They might be "real" but I'd steer clear of them if it were me.
posted by amyms at 8:26 AM on April 22, 2011

he's really anxious that I get it to him today, like right now. He's called back to ask about it 3 times since I spoke to him an hour ago.

He's legit, but he's not exclusive to the company, and he doesn't want another recruiter to contact you.

First, you ask him -- in an email -- if he's prime to the client. If not, you (generally) don't deal with him.

Second, anytime someone is in a rush for you to sign somehting, that means it's a good deal for him, not necessarily for you.

So, third, you ask him for the offered rate. He'll ask you what your salary requirements are, or what you currently make or have previously made. Never answer that. Make him give you a rate first, or at worst, come back with a ridiculously high rate (double what someone with your background makes).

Eventually, you will need to offer exclusivity (these recruiters don't get paid if your resume crosses an employer's desk from two or more of them), but only for a single particular position. Make it clear, in writing, that you're authorizing him (or whatever recruiter you decide on) to submit you for this position and only this position, and to contact you for permission before submitting for any other position with this or any client of theirs. This is to protect you from having two recruiters submit you for the same job, because employers generally in that case won't consider you, because then they have a headache over which recruiter to pay.

But before you settle on this recruiter, wait. About a dozen other recruiters are going to cal you about this exact same position, and you want the recruiter who will offer you the most money (that is, steal the least from you every hour you work in echange for a one-time introduction).

Some recruiters will get all pissy: "But I contacted you first, so you have to go through me". Nope, not until and unless you agree to have them submit you. If someone does this, ask to talk to his boss. Same thing if he dances around on rate. You're happy to talk to hus boss.

Again, one of these guys is going to be taking $10 to $60 dollars an hour out of your pocket fopr every hour you work. Make him work for that.
posted by orthogonality at 8:34 AM on April 22, 2011 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: As far as pay goes, I was also a little suspicious as they've offered more than I've ever made before. It sounds about right for this type of work ($22/hour, no benefits, for an entry level tech writer in the Midwest is pretty normal, as I've been looking at positions like these for the last several months), but still, I was only expecting around 15.
posted by dust.wind.dude at 8:44 AM on April 22, 2011

Dude. Ask for thirty.

It's probably a gov't contract, the employer might be getting $90, recruiter hopes to get $45, and pass 22 to you.
posted by orthogonality at 8:57 AM on April 22, 2011

This sounds very shady to me. Don't let a nice website, in the absence of a physical address and a more stable web presence, fool you. Anyone can make a great site these days.

It's possible that this guy is in business for himself as a freelance headhunter, and trying to make it seem like his new one-man operation is an entire company. You should ask targeted questions of him to find out if this is so. If it is, you can try working with him, but be aware that he's unestablished.

If he asks you for personal information like your social security number or bank account, or if he asks you to pay any sort of induction fee or the like, run.
posted by xenophile at 9:23 AM on April 22, 2011

It's also possible that Wits is a real company, but this guy doesn't work for them. I work fraud prevention and detection for a large company, and I see a lot of job fraud like this. So, yes, the website is legit, but this guy is trying to capitalize on that and is phishing for something from you. Other red flags are too-good-to-be-true money, and the urgency with which he's calling you.
Wait. Don't send this guy any information. Like you said, it's Good Friday, which is a holiday for some companies; if it's not a holiday, there's a good chance that a lot of people are taking a vacation or personal day. Even if you get something signed today, it probably wouldn't get acted on until Monday anyway.
Do your research--wait until Monday and contact the HR department of the company that will supposedly employ you like you wanted to. Try to find a phone number for Wits and call them. Ask if this guy works for them, and if they are trying to contact you.
posted by catwoman429 at 10:08 AM on April 22, 2011

In addition, they should tell you the name of the company.
posted by rhizome at 12:32 PM on April 22, 2011

Response by poster: To be clear, I know the name of the company I'd be working for - I just didn't know if it would be inappropriate or something to post it. It's a highly-respected industrial equipment manufacturer that I'm familiar with from my time living in that area, and the agency guy told me right out with no prompting what company the position is with.

The more I think about it, the more I think this is a real position that's being handled by an agency that outsources all their recruiting. I think at this point I'm going to stick with my original plan and contact the client company's HR department to see if they use this agency and if they have a direct contact number for them. The client company is big enough and respected as an employer in that area enough, that if they do actually trust this agency to bring in candidates, it's probably at least worth a shot, especially since they haven't asked me for anything scammy - just an updated resume and a standard agency exclusivity form.

I am still curious if anyone knows any specifics on this particular agency as far as being a decent employer (and really all I'm concerned about aside from scamminess is will I get paid when and how much I'm supposed to).

Thanks for your thoughts guys! One of the many reasons I love this place.
posted by dust.wind.dude at 12:46 PM on April 22, 2011

This alarms me.

It doesn't necissarily mean they are a scam, but it does kind of make one question their attention to detail.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:09 PM on April 22, 2011

I don't know anything about WITS solutions but I have come across recruiting firms that don't have a web presence and this is done deliberately to keep out the "riff raff" as it were.

Assuming he's legit, chances are the recruiter doesn't have a contract with the hiring firm but he is trying to present you as a candidate in the hopes of getting the commission.

I once found out I no longer had a job when a recruiter called me to present a candidate for my position. That resulted in a horribly awkward conversation with my then boss. But it all might work out, the company stock cratered and the sharks are circling.
posted by JohntheContrarian at 4:54 PM on April 22, 2011

Response by poster: So I totally forgot about this question. To sum up for any future searchers:

I called the client company's HR department and the woman who answered didn't know anything about it but said that wouldn't be unusual as there were over 50 recruiters working in her office alone. Since the agent didn't ask me for anything beyond my resume and that standard form, I sent it to him on Monday after the holiday. I never heard a single thing back from them, and have checked my credit and accounts since then - nothing weird.

Therefore, conclusion: The agency appears to be legit, or at least not some sort of scam, just dumb/poorly run to be telling their people they have to hard sell a legitimate job opportunity like that.

Thanks everyone for your advice.
posted by dust.wind.dude at 4:10 PM on May 22, 2011

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