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Clarification from placement agency

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Question: My friend was sent on an interview by a placement agency.

She felt uneasy about the position after the interview because they told her that she would have to work overtime frequently. She, unexpectedly, was offered the position although she let the company know that she needed a set schedule.

When the agency called my friend, she told them that she was concerned about the overtime that she was told would be expected of her. She told the agency that, to make an informed decision, she wanted to speak to the interviewer again to get clarification. She was told that she could not contact the employer directly.

The agent told her that she had spoken w/other people whom she had placed with the company, and none had worked overtime in the past few months. The agent also told her that if she was concerned about not being able to pick up her kids up from daycare on time, most daycares are open until 6 p.m., so a little bit of overtime shouldn't affect her.

Is it me or does this sound suspect? I realize that these placement agencies are salespeople and will make the position sound as great as possible to get their fee.

My friend doesn't want to take a position and end up having to leave soon after. Should she go against what the placement agent said and contact the company directly, or just refuse the job and risk not being sent on another interview again? The agent was very upset about her apprehension.  -- Vita, Pittsburgh


Why can’t she contact the employer if they are offering her the job? It seems unreasonable to expect someone to accept a position and not know what company they would be working for? Yes, to me this whole arrangement sounds suspect, not jut the overtime issue. My vote – pass on it and find a reputable search/placement company, this sounds too sneaky.

I think your friend should go for a different position. It sounds like the placement agency is just trying to place someone to make a buck. If your friend doesn't feel comfortable with the position there are others out there. It might take a few times to get the right position. You need to go with your gut and if it says that it wasn't right, the it wasn't. I would not take that position. In fact I would go to another placement agency and get on their lists too.

Just because the placement company is desperate to make the placement doesn't mean the company itself will be bad. Maybe they liked your friend enough to waive the overtime requirement for her and if that's the case, it might be a great match. Have her talk to the agent and get in writing that the company is offering the job in agreement with her "no overtime" stipulation. If the agent refuses, she will tell them that she is going to go ahead and make the phone call herself. The agency discourages it, obviously, but I doubt they would refuse her the job for going over their heads. Their goal is to make the company (their real client) happy.

I agree with the above commenters. I do recruiting and you should be able to contact the employer directly to get clarification. You have the right to ask for a second meeting or a phone call. DO NOT accept a job that you are unsure of the requirements. If you do,and it turns out that you are reqired to work a lot of overtime their expectations will be that they told you, and they expect you to comply. Next of all, the recruiter has no right to tell you to change what happens on your personal time, or what you do with your children. That could be a whole new Pandora's Box for you. If it turns out that this recruiter lied to you, RUN, run fast and DON'T look back. The world is full of staffing agencies and new jobs.

I agree with some of the other replies. If you are unsure about the "overtime statement", I would refuse the job offer. You certainly do not want to accept any job and then have to quit due to mis-communications. This would not look good on your resume! I think the agent setting up the interviews needs some training themselves. If I told them I needed a set work schedule, why would they send me on any interview that did not match my requirements? Your friend needs to pick another agency to help them find a job. I feel there are plenty out there.

I would not trust the assurances that overtime would be rare. If you really need to avoid overtime, then do not accept the position. As for being able to contact the employer, many employers use agencies so that they will be shielded from contact and disruptions from applicants. Many agencies insist that you not contact employers because this is a major reason companies employ an agency.
Your agent sounds like he or she is just trying to fill the position instead of making a good fit. This is bad for you, the agency, and the employer. I would try using another agency. Unless your town is really small, there are likely to be other agencies. It is totally acceptable to sign up with multiple agencies. I have gotten temporary jobs and my current full time job of the last three years through employment agencies. The agencies I worked with always told me that it was my right to decline job offers. One agent I worked with even warned me against a job I asked about because she said the director was difficult to work for and she had to fill the job every three months because the director was a monster. Therefore, your agent should have your interests in mind. Trying to convince you to take a job with overtime serves neither you nor the employer who needs this. Good luck.

I totally agree with a lot of the above responses. However, make sure that you read the contract that you signed with the placement agency so that you will not be breaching it if you contact the employer. They might be a reputable company but unless you know for sure and have in writing that you will not be required to work a lot of overtime or that it will be only when you feel that you are able to, I wouldn't even start with the company. I understand that jobs are hard to find but personally, I would find another placement agency because it sounds like trust is an issue!

Margaret, Cleveland

I agree with the responses made. I had started through a temp agency a while back. I had been informed by the employer that I may have to work a couple late nights each month. I agreed with it and took the job. However, before I had reached the end of my 90 day probationary period, I was working more and more nights and coming home to my children after nine most of the week. I had told the agency and they told me that the employer was known for that. It was not long before I found employment elsewhere and not with the agency that had placed me there. You should find a different agency as most of the time, they do care about a proper placement of employment as it would give them a better reputation to place the right people for the right job. The moral of the story is, believe your gut, don't believe what you hear from either side unless you have it in writing.

I asked my office manager (who manages a law office and uses recruiters all the time) for a response to this situation and here's what she wrote: The agent is the problem here. If I were interested in the position, I would contact interviewer directly and politely explain why I was calling directly and get the clarification needed. If I didn't accept the position, I would find another placement agency and likely report this agent to his/her boss. If I did accept the position after being assured overtime is not an expectation, I would accept the offer in writing (via letter or email) and confirm the understanding about the overtime expectation in that written communication to circumvent any future misunderstanding.

Hi. I'm curious why this writer is so concerned. Why doesn't the person who's actually involved speak for herself?

I feel the answer is simple. Of course the person should contact the company directly with her concerns. Why take the chance and then leave the position if her (your) fears are correct. If the person she interviewed with told her she'd have to work overtime, I would take that persons comment over the job placement person.

Hi Anne,
I'm not speaking for my friend. In my efforts to be a good friend, I'm often concerned about giving good advice, when it is solicited, especially when it involves serious matters. Instead of offering just my own opinion, I decided to offer my friend several opinions from professional women who may have more experience, than myself, in dealing with agencies. As others, I'm sure do, I truly appreciate & respect the different persectives that I receive through this forum. Although the answer may seem simple to you, I felt that it was a complex situation, as I see others agree. Thank your for your opinion.


I agree with you - this is a great forum to get feedback on issues (even if it isn't your own personal problem!). Don't let others discourage you from obtaining input; that's what we're here for (and what the forum is here for).

You are right - this is a fairly complicated situation. I also thought that the comment someone made about looking at the contract your friend signed with the agency was important. Most agencies want to stay in the "middleman" role, to prevent job candidates from circumventing the agency and going to the employer directly to negotiate their own employment (after finding out about the position). I used to do temp work, and the agencies were pretty specific in their contracts about this situation. They don't want to lose their commissions (and rightly so) by having people start dealing with the employers directly during the negotiation process.

However, in this case, there's something fishy going on. Once the initial interview has been conducted, a job candidate should be able to contact the interviewer with a specific question like this -- I would just give a courtesy call to the agency to let them know I'm contacting the employer directly with the question. I certainly wouldn't trust the employment agency rep's assurances about the overtime (especially since it would greatly impact your friend's non-work time). She might just be trying to fill the position at any cost, and your friend will pay the price.

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