Attitude puts temp agents on your side

Upbeat inquiries more endearing than negative rants

June 16, 2008


Q: Hi, J.T. & Dale! For the past month, I've been looking for work. Temp agencies call me about a job, I tell them that I'm interested, they either e-mail or fax my resume, and I follow up by calling them back - and they tell me they haven't heard from their clients and say they will call me back, but they don't. I get so frustrated. - Deborah

J.T.: I'd start by going back to your contacts at the temp agency to see whether you can ask them to give you some constructive feedback. Perhaps they can give some reasons why you aren't getting jobs when others are. My favorite question to ask is, "Can you tell me what I could do to make myself more employable?"

Dale: That's a great question because it's a conversation starter. The more commonly asked question, "Why didn't they pick me?" is a conversation killer - the agency can't or won't answer it.

However, when you ask for advice on being employable, you have the chance to learn something useful, and you also open up the possibility of establishing a relationship - the agency person is now on your side, working with you.

J.T.: Imagine how many calls the people in agencies get from people who want jobs. Imagine also how many of those people sound angry when they call because, like you, they are frustrated by not having a job.

Now imagine how nice it would be to receive an upbeat, pleasant phone call from someone looking for employment and for suggestions on how to get it. Can you see how they might remember you more fondly?

Dale: Yes, the agency folks have frustrations of their own. Employers say they want to hire someone, then change their minds or hire the owner's cousin. An agency can't count on a job getting filled, and you can't count on it either.

Don't let yourself depend on any one opening or any one source of openings. You need a lot of those upbeat phone calls J.T. was talking about.


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