Should I go back to this temp agency?
May 26, 2014 6:42 PM   Subscribe

I recently found myself unemployed for the first time in a year. Should I return to the temp agency that permanently placed me at the job from which I just got fired?

About a year ago, my temp agency got me a permanent placement as a receptionist at a well-regarded, locally-based company. I did really well there as a temp, but once I was placed there permanently things started to go sideways. I didn't fit in with the company as well as I thought I would, and a few months after I started working there as a permanent employee it became glarlingly obvious that this wasn't the place for me. Long story short, I got shown the door a few weeks ago, while I was looking for employment elsewhere.

I've started applying for jobs and going to temp agencies, and I've gone back and forth about whether I should go to the temp agency that initially placed me at the job from whence I got fired. I worked several assignments for them before I got placed at my last office job, and all the places where I got placed had good things to say about me. I am worried that the reasons I got canned from this last place will get back to the agency that placed me there, and they will refuse to send me out on any other assignments. Should I re-establish contact with them or not?
posted by pxe2000 to Work & Money (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
re-establish contact. There is no downside. There is potential upside.
posted by Bonzai at 6:44 PM on May 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

I did precisely that when a company laid me off from the job an agency placed me at. It just made them all the more likely to give me temp assignments at that same company "because you know how everything works there".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:46 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was actually fired from the position, not laid off. I was working as a receptionist, and we had repeated problems with offshore telemarketers phoning us, refusing to put us on their DNC list, calling me obscene names, and making bodily threats towards me. My department was unable to do anything about this, and in the absence of any company policy about how to deal with telemarketers of this nature, I started disconnecting the calls and/or refusing to take them. A few of the telemarketers emailed the CEO, which resulted in my dismissal from the company.

(I was going to put this in the OP, but the question was getting long and unwieldy, so I left it out.)
posted by pxe2000 at 6:54 PM on May 26, 2014

It depends. Do they think you screwed up or do they think it wasn't the right fit? If they think it wasn't the right fit, you should go back. If they think you screwed up, they may pay lip service to finding you something else and it may never materialize. You don't say how things went sideways. A year is a long time to be some place and then have things go wrong.

You should go to a bunch of other places too. That's probably obvious, but you should NEVER rely on a single company. You have to look out for your own best interests.
posted by shoesietart at 7:00 PM on May 26, 2014

Absolutely re-establish your relationship with them.
You didn't get fired because you are a thief or dangerous or unreliable, so your old agency isn't going to care.

They know you do good work and they'll be glad to see you.
posted by Pudhoho at 7:07 PM on May 26, 2014

shoesietart: I actually just answered that question. Scroll up. :)

I've applied to other agencies (one of whom has been great about getting me interviews) and I could always use another one. The agency that placed me at my permanent job did a great job of getting me good long-term positions, and they had some other benefits that would make it worth going back to them.

I know it's illegal in MA to specify the reasons why a company let someone go, but since the company that fired me works with this agency as their primary temp agency, I'm worried that my former boss may have let slip why they no longer have me on the payroll.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:09 PM on May 26, 2014

Wait, what? You were being verbally abused on the phone by unsolicited telemarketers and you took the only step available to you to put an end to the abuse, but somehow you're the one who got fired? That doesn't make any sense.

If that's seriously how it went down, you can rest assured that your former company hasn't said anything to the temp agency, because it'll make the company's CEO sound like an unabashed misogynist.
posted by jesourie at 7:39 PM on May 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

I know it's illegal in MA to specify the reasons why a company let someone go [ . . .]
I don't believe that's correct. And, in my experience, mentioning employment law (even apocryphal) to MA temp agencies makes them skittish.
posted by mattbcoset at 7:45 PM on May 26, 2014

I say absolutely yes. As above, there is no downside, unless re-upping with this agency positively precludes you from seeking any other work. If you were placed a number of times and then placed permanently, I think that gives you pretty excellent status, actually. You are a proven desirable product they can offer.

I would suggest that you contact them, and casually mention this concern, about how you've now been fired, weird boss, wish it hadn't happened, etc. In all likelihood, they will totally reassure you, big-time. I do think being casual matters there, because being demanding, high maintenance, etc, is a red flag at agencies, but being conscientious and concerned about doing a good job is not. Likewise, they are not unfamiliar with really awful employers. It's just as often that they round-file a client as an employee.

If you express to them that you're interested in getting right back out there, perhaps even at a lower rate than you've had before, I think you could expect to get a placement call right away, which would indicate they're still placing you in the top tier client-pleasing category. If you want to know that you are in their good graces, that is what I would do. You could even pass on the first job for some made-up reason, renege on the lower $ figure, and since you'd have gotten the "proof" that they're going to call you, then you know it's all fine.

I know that's gameplaying, but temp agencies can be really game-players like that. My first temp agency gig was AT the agency, which was a really weird experience!

Really, you have already begun to develop what could be a really fruitful relationship with this agency. You can develop that history into a future, if they are reasonable and you are. Find out.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:23 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Call the agency rep that placed you. Tell them what happened. They may or may not place you again, depending if they believe you.

They may already know that you got fired, because they company that hired you from them may have paid them a fee to buy out your temp contract; and depending on the terms, the company may have tried to get some money back from the agency. Or, they may have just called to refill the job.

Anyway, what have you got to lose? Worst case, they don't place you again, which they definitely won't if you don't call them. Best case, they know you're a reliable worker and place you again quickly.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:06 PM on May 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

I temped for five years and on one occasion I was fired from a job in the afternoon and was called later that afternoon for an assignmemt starting the next day.

"Should I re-establish contact with them or not?"

You absolutely should. This is not a problem at all.
posted by vapidave at 9:40 PM on May 26, 2014

What I meant was that your reason for being fired didn't entirely make sense to me. I don't understand what changed in your responsibilities (or behavior) as a temp vs an employee. Were you not getting obnoxious calls when you were a temp or did you handle them differently?

In any case, you can ask if they're willing to assist you and even if they are, it doesn't mean they'll get you a job. Given a choice between a fired person and another candidate you may come up short. Or you may not. If they think it wasn't a good fit but you're otherwise a good candidate, they're likely to continue to place you. Even if they say yes I would still also work with other agencies.
posted by shoesietart at 11:02 PM on May 26, 2014

(This isn't directly about your question, but your employer has an obligation to provide a safe workplace, including prevention of workplace violence and investigation of violent threats (pdf). You may have been unfairly fired. The temp agency has a conflict of interest, since they're paid by the employer, but you might want to give OSHA a call at (800) 321-OSHA (6742).)
posted by gingerest at 11:36 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Temp staffer here. To echo: yes definitely reconnect with the agency that placed you. Be 100% honest about your experience with the company- that means including the things you did wrong that may have led to your termination (even if you were justified in doing those things!). Be frank, be humble, ask for help.

Usually the fact that you've gone direct is reason enough for a staffing co. to give you another shot. We're always looking for good people, and we understand that sometimes things just don't work out.
posted by stinkfoot at 5:47 AM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

This company sounds like jerks. But there is a lesson to be learned.

1. If they have a policy about how calls are to be handled, handle all calls that way.

2. If you're being abused by callers, report that to your manager and have them change the policy.

As for calling your agency, why not? What's the worst that can happen? If they say to you, "No way! We placed you and you made us look bad," then fine, move on. But after you tell your story they may say, "No problem, they're jerks anyway."

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. Gretzky, laying down the widsom.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:04 AM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I used to work in recruitment and Yes, you should absolutely re-establish contact.
Make sure that you are honest to the agency about why you were fired. No beating around the bush, no vague answers, just be 100% truthful about what happened. That's the ONLY way they'll feel comfortable using you as a candidate again.

The very minute you get caught in a lie, or don't tell them the entire truth, THAT'S when the alarm bells start ringing to Recruiters and THAT'S when they start "blacklisting" candidates.

In this situation, it doesn't sound as if you did anything wrong and Recruiters can put a positive spin on ANY situation. If you're available, call them - just remember to be honest, reliable, show up for interviews if you are supposed to show up for interviews and you'll be fine!!
posted by JenThePro at 7:50 AM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

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