What should I tell the recruiter?
May 23, 2017 8:54 AM   Subscribe

A recruiter from an agency that placed me at a dud job three years ago contacted me about coming in for an interview. Help?

Three years ago I landed a temp-to-perm position at what was supposed to be a good company. I lasted almost a year there; the management changed during my time there, one of my coworkers harassed me, I was made to feel unsafe, and I was fired.

In the intervening time I had a career reboot. I completed an AmeriCorps Year of Service, transitioned out of admin work and into project management, and have worked a string of contract positions (which is typical for this field). I've also taken better care of my mental health and started to recognize when jobs feel unhealthy, unsafe, or otherwise wrong for me. I believe I have a lot to offer a permanent position, and my supervisors at my previous contract jobs would back me up on this.

I applied for a position online that sounds ideal, and was described as temp-to-perm. This morning a recruiter contacted me, and when she mentioned the firm that was placing people at the job I realized that it was the firm that placed me at the bad job a few years ago. We've scheduled an interview for Thursday morning. Should I mention my previous work for them? If so, what should I say to reassure them that I've improved as an employee and as a person in that time?
posted by pxe2000 to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Should I mention my previous work for them?

I don't think you need to mention this. The client approaches the agency to fill vacancies; the agency presumably deals with many clients, some long-term, some short-term. They fulfil a need, that's all.

We've scheduled an interview for Thursday morning.

Is this an interview with the recruiter or with the client?
Either way, no need to make a big deal of it. I wouldn't mention it as it was some time ago and you've more recent, relevant work. If it comes up, you could just deal with it in a sentence or so to say it wasn't the best fit, or even that the role wasn't as it was portrayed and you've learned from that. It's not something you should make an issue of though.

Also, three years is an eternity for recruiters.

Well done on your career reboot. It seems this is bringing back bad memories, but you've recovered from that.
posted by plep at 9:04 AM on May 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

Thanks, plep. The interview is with the recruiter.
posted by pxe2000 at 9:07 AM on May 23, 2017

For what it's worth, if you lasted nearly a year at the previous placement, the recruiter was more than happy - they typically get paid on the placement as long as you stay 90 days. So there absolutely shouldn't be any bad blood on their side. I think there's no real up or downside to mentioning that they'd placed you previously and you could certainly talk about the (hopefully positive) experience you had working with the recruiter, even though the job itself was not as good as it could have been.

It sounds like you've taken really good steps to move yourself and your career to a better place. Be confident that you've learned and grown from all your experiences meanwhile, and go kick some butt!
posted by athenasbanquet at 9:36 AM on May 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

what should I say to reassure them that I've improved as an employee and as a person in that time

Oh, they don't care, and you are not obligated to feel ashamed, nor are you a bad person who needs to prove redemption. They put you in a shit job, and they'll do it again in a heartbeat as long as you stay long enough for them to get their bounty paid.

Recruiters are largely intruding into a process you could probably perform yourself if you googled the job description rather than speak to them. They are salespeople of humans, and you should not assume they are (or can, or should be) making any moral judgements about you. They want their money. Most recruiters last about 18 months in the field, so the entire staff there has probably turned over at least twice since you last dealt with them.

They interview you in person to make sure you a) exist and have the paperwork to prove it b) have enough sense to put clothes on for a job interview c) can have a 30-minute conversation without talking about your sex life or weed farm or your insatiable need for human blood. They just need to you last 90 days or whatever so they get their check. Also, they will tell you a lower salary from what the employer is offering so they get a bigger check and your next two "raises" are getting you back to the number the employer was originally willing to pay.

Always remember: if you're not paying, you're the product not the customer. This is not the time to do penance for whatever sins you think you committed previously; this is the time for a sharp skeptical eye.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:47 AM on May 23, 2017 [12 favorites]

I hear you and understand your perspective, Lyn Never. I'm applying for positions on my own, but given where I'm at in my career I've relied on recruiters for contract positions. (It's a necessary evil for project management, from what I've seen.)
posted by pxe2000 at 10:27 AM on May 23, 2017

Bygones are bygones. It's business, not friendship. If the old job comes up, you both blame anything bad on the change in management. You are their to use him, and his job is to use you. Be polite. Be amicable. Take care of your interests;he's taking care of his.

Recruiters see more job hoppers than long term employees for obvious reasons.
posted by SemiSalt at 12:08 PM on May 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

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