Potential Temp Agency Faux Pas, or, PLEASE HELP ME STOP FREAKING OUT
March 14, 2013 5:52 AM   Subscribe

I have been working with a staffing agency who placed me in a really great (contract) job last year, which ended in October. I have been keeping in touch with the rep who was working with me ever since, checking in once a week to see if anything had become available. Last month, my grandmother passed away after a very long illness and I got wrapped up in the various family-related things that obviously came along with that, and therefore I stopped checking in with the rep for a while (it became a much lower priority). At the same time, my friend offered me some extremely low-paying (to the brink of me basically doing it pro bono), intermittent consulting work on a project just to help me keep somewhat busy during the boring slog of unemployment, which at least allows me not to have a huge gap on my resume and my LinkedIn profile. Because this happened right around the time my grandmother passed, and because this consulting work is most definitely temporary and not income-sustainable, I forgot to inform my rep that I'd taken on this work. I am now concerned that I have committed a major faux pas professionally. Help me understand if I have or if I am overreacting.

There is also an automated email reminder form I get from the agency every two weeks asking me for an availability update and a summary of what job searching tasks I have been doing alongside waiting for them to call (haha). I have been consistently marking my availability as yes when these reminder forms come and outlining what I have been doing, including explaining the consulting work (and how it's low paying/basically pro bono and mostly "something to do" while I wait for an actual job to come along). So, I have been informing the agency of what I've been doing; I just never bothered to pick up the phone or write an email to my rep directly to let him know. Is that not cool of me?

What makes me extra concerned is that I just saw that my rep posted a job he's recruiting for on LinkedIn two days ago, which is in my field and which I think I'd be a good match for. I also saw that he looked at my profile two days ago, where he would see my update that I was doing this consulting work for my friend. I am worried that he 1) thinks I have a full-time job now and 2) never told him about it and 3) therefore, because of 1 or 2 (or both) didn't contact me about this new position.

I sent him an email last night saying "Hey, it's been a while, saw the position you posted and think I may be a good fit, can you tell me more about the job?" And then gave him a general update re: the low-paying/basically pro bono consulting work and how I am still actively searching for new opportunities because it's not a consistent or long-term job. I didn't tell him that I had been out of touch because of my grandmother's passing because I generally don't think it's very professional to blab about family drama in a work context. But now I am extremely worried that maybe my falling out of touch for a while plus not directly, personally informing him of the consulting gig (even though I was updating my records with the agency through their automated reminder forms), might have pissed him off.

My email to him was late last night and right now it's not even 9AM here in New York, so I know that I'm probably jumping the gun in being like OMG WHY HAS HE NOT RESPONDED TO MY EMAIL OR CALLED ME YET OBVIOUSLY HE MUST HATE ME NOW. But that irrationality aside, overall, was my handling of this situation okay, or have I committed several professional faux pas (what's the plural of that anyway?) here?
posted by thereemix to Work & Money (14 answers total)
He's not your boyfriend. You don't actually owe it to him to contact him at all.

If you want to explain you could say "I've only been doing minimal amounts of work since my grandmother passed in February. I've regained my strength and am back to actively looking again."
posted by tel3path at 5:57 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

You are catastrophizing. You will be fine. You have done nothing wrong.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:57 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dude. There are a lot of folks out there and I'm sure they too aren't always in constant communication with their temp agencies.

So...you're fine, don't freak, if he's still looking that means no decision has been made.

I don't do anything before 10 if I can avoid it because I'm not awake until I've digested my coffee.

Call him intermittantly through the day until you get him live.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:59 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Welcome to planet over-think.

A recruiter makes money by putting people into positions. You did nothing that would be unprofessional - you are not obliged to keep in constant contact with a recruiter, you just make their life really easy if you do. If you dropped out of sight for a little while then raised your own profile like you did last night, you're probably now back on his radar. That's perfectly fine and at least as much as you need to do.

There's nothing I can see that is unprofessional. They are a resource that uses you to make money, you are not beholden to them at all. You'll have to try MUCH harder than that to piss them off!
posted by Brockles at 5:59 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

Your rep gets paid if he makes a placement. His goal is to put forth candidates that are a good fit. It doesn't pay for him to be petty like you're suggesting.
posted by bfranklin at 6:00 AM on March 14, 2013

*phew* Thanks for the reality check guys.

Sometimes I feel like being unemployed is causing me to lose my mind.

Thanks again for the virtual shoulder-shaking. You all are the best.
posted by thereemix at 6:03 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

You're definitely (massively) catastrophising. In my experience of recruitment agencies, he more likely had to search through his files to even remember your name than had an encyclopaedic knowledge of your job/job hunting history.
posted by penguin pie at 6:37 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Whenever I'm looking for work I have active contact going on with as many staffing agencies as possible. They aren't expecting to be your sole source of work.
posted by something something at 6:38 AM on March 14, 2013

The temp agency should be providing service to you, and should be incredibly understanding about your absence due to your grandmother's death. You can go, and should maybe consider going, to any other temp agency you want. You can ask for a raise, and you can ask for some paid bereavement or vacation leave.
posted by theora55 at 6:42 AM on March 14, 2013

Well he emailed me back about 15 minutes ago to give me more details on the new job position, and I sent him an updated resume, so we'll see how it goes.

I was definitely catastrophizing. Being unemployed really has done a number on my confidence. Trying to shake it off and keep plugging forward.

Again, and as always, thanks folks.
posted by thereemix at 7:06 AM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

I hope you're not relying too much on this one contact? That can really ramp up your anxiety levels.

I hope you're applying like crazy to everything in sight.
posted by tel3path at 10:57 AM on March 14, 2013

Hi tel3path - yes, applying all over the place, not just counting on this one contact...but I have a year-long established relationship with this recruiter so was concerned about having inadvertantly burned a bridge. Seems to be that I was overreacting.
posted by thereemix at 2:41 PM on March 14, 2013

Also worth pointing out: you know you can be signed up with MULTIPLE temp agencies, right?

They don't expect for you to be exclusive to them, and I'm sure a lot of people that use them have side jobs, or other contract gigs pop up from time to time.

As common courtesy, if they call or email me you about work you should reply, but you're not obligated to stay in touch with them... most agencies just want you to do this so they know who's available when one of their clients needs to staff up.
posted by Unsomnambulist at 7:32 PM on March 14, 2013

Hi Unsommambulist - yup, I know, I'm registered with three agencies at the moment. This recruiter in particular has been very helpful to me in the past year so I didn't want to do anything to jeopardize the relationship; hence the worry.
posted by thereemix at 6:40 AM on March 15, 2013

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