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Virtual Job Club Day 18: Could a Staffing Firm Be Your Solution?

Wouldn’t it be fabulous if a headhunter could just find you a job? It’s not that easy, but it can be doable if you know how the process works.

So to give you the inside scoop, Gretchen Gunn will lead today’s call about how to establish strong, productive relationships with placement agencies. She is the founder of MGD services, which offers agile and effective staffing, placement, retention, and transition services. You can check out her website any time by clicking here.

Click play below to listen to Gretchen Gunn including a great Q&A section.

In the meantime, tell us below about your experiences with staffing firms and post your questions, which Gretchen will try to tackle on the call.

Make it a great day!



  1. Maureen Reintjes

    In short I was near tears. I was approached by a recruiter under one company name only to find out two other company names were attached to her. I was going out of courtesy and for more of an informational meeting. The receptionist asked me to fill out an application. I thanked her but declined and explained that I would like to meet with the recruiter before I fill out any information. My thoughts also were I was not sure what company I was putting in an application with and since I already have a job I didn’t want to be called for every low paying temporary job around. My TIME is important to me. Well the recruiter came out and gave me major attitude because I didn’t fill out the application. I explained to her that I had no idea what company I would be filling out an application for, since there were 3 companies, and I did not want to get into a database where I would be contacted all the time for jobs I wouldn’t be able to work since I’m already working. The whole time all I could think of is how horrible this would be for some man or woman who is the sole financial bread winner of their family who had a good job but was laid off and is close to losing everything and have some recruiter treat them like hell. I am not a doormat so I didn’t take it and this woman ended up insulting someone who knows everyone she does, me. She insulted a leader in the community who comes from one of the oldest families with the longest running business in the metro area. She screwed up. By the end of the meeting she was very nice to me so I turned it around but I did it for the 2,200 job seekers I represent, if had been just for me I’d walked out and not wasted my time with her. But I still can’t get my mind off of thinking about how many good people she has hurt over the years. It will be a long time before I ever agree to an interview like that again.

  2. Lois

    My most recent experience involved a one hour wait and then an interview which lead to nothing. When I called to find out if there was work, I was sent to different people who said they would put my name down on a list for work. Work NEVER, EVER came and I’ve registered with at lead a dozen agencies with a similar experience. When I tried to find out the reason, I was told that the job market is slow.

    I am hopeful that things will turn around and I’ll find permanent work.

  3. Susan Kaye

    I do not like going to agencies. They never have any thing for me. You sit and fill out these very long applications, give you several tests, most of the people who work at these places are looking for a special type of person to fill the temps jobs. Most of the time if you are over 45 always say they have nothing for you. After you have been filling out all the information for about 2 hours or more.

    I use Simply Hired many times for jobs, they have several ads from an agency I will not give out the name. I have sent them a resume, and fill out all the information on line. I have never got any call form them to come in for any testing, or a job offer.

    Most of these agencies the jobs are phoney, just doing that to show the dept. of labor we have jobs, But not one came in for them.

    Many years ago I went to an agency and saw them just taking applications throwing them out. With all the information such as ss #, phone number, address, and other information that the whole world should have known.

    This is why I do not like going to them. This is used as my very last source to find a job.

    If any one would like to send me feed back of this comment, just feel free to send me information if you feel the same way.

  4. Gretchen Gunn

    Maureen, Lois, and Susan:

    Thank you for your stories. These stories are the very reason we were inspired to make MGD Services different from other staffing firms. I’ve been in your shoes as a job seeker and also saw how a candidate’s time was not valued when I was working for other agencies. I can’t wait to talk more about this at 2pm today.

  5. Maria

    I have met with a couple of agencies and think they are a complete waste of time. And, I mean, a lot of time! There are paper forms to fill out, then online forms, even before speaking to the recruiter who called me. Then, without giving specifics, they wanted me to fill out more paperwork with social security number, etc. and when I questioned them they got really uneasy. That’s when I walked out. Never again.

  6. Lyz Bishop

    My experiences with agencies (both “reputable” firms in the business) has not been good at all. The first agency had me come in and do some tests, which I passed. I was told the company would be interviewing me in the next couple of weeks. I called and emailed to follow-up and no one ever responded. I couldn’t walk in and speak to anyone, either. I found out later the company had hired internally (as I knew someone at that company).

    The second company advertised four or five jobs for which I was qualified. Again, I went to the office, took tests, interviewed and then was told the only job they really had available was a call center. I declined. They said they would put me at the top of the interviewing list. In the meantime, I started school and let my agent know (via phone) what I was doing and my availability. A couple of weeks later I received a phone call from my agent’s partner and she said they had been discussing me and wanted to know if I was still an active participant. I was confused, as I had just had the discussion with my agent. This person said there was no such discussion and that she had personally called me and left messages and I had not responded. I had no missed calls on my cell phone and no one had emailed me. They pulled this twice.

    With both agencies, I tried to take take some more in-depth testing, as I had taken some classes and wanted to see if this advanced my test scores and made me a more desirable candidate. Both said “no”, as they can’t possibly know what a future employer might want. Interestingly, they advertise the same basic skill sets over and over. I

    I feel this has not been a valuable use of my time or money, and it only yielded frustration on my part.

  7. Sheree

    Wow! This is a loaded question with an equally loaded answer. Agencies these days are bittersweet. You may get lucky the way I did with one agency, but may end up degraded and never-going-to-forget insulted by a representative of another. We do have lives, lives that take unexpected turns and emergencies do arise. When I wasn’t able to make a scheduled meeting with one agency and the client, due to, oh I don’t know…my youngest child in the emergency room…I was sent a nice little “screw you” letter from the agent I considered to be looking out for my best interest so much so to the fact I was faithful to their company and often times recommended them to others. I have never experienced something like that before. It has made me very leary of agencies. Again, bittersweet.

  8. REK

    I worked with staffing agencies in a prior life (when I was a hiring manager) and found a mixed bag. Some agencies were professional, listened to my requirements and sent resumes only for the candidates who had at least the basic skills needed. Others seemed to send every resume that crossed anyone’s desk, which was frustrating for me and must have been equally frustrating for the potential job candidates.

    As a job seeker I have had only limited contact with staffing agencies. I have had some lengthy phone interviews based on applications I submitted, but I never had any real sense that the jobs being discussed actually existed. Perhaps it’s normal to be so cagey with details to protect the client’s interests (and the agency’s), but it doesn’t do much for the applicant. At the moment, I tend to avoid posted positions that are clearly through an agency.

    My questions for Gretchen: How can I have a positive experience with a staffing agency? How does one go about identifying a reputable agency whose postings are real? And, on the flip side, what are some red flags that should warn me to walk away?

  9. SM

    Hello. I can relate to all the previous postings. The emotional roller coaster comes across loud and clear. Of the number of recruiters I’ve contacted, met with, put time and effort into, there is one that I hear from. As for the others, after filling out all kinds of paperwork and meetings, they tell you to register on a website and look for jobs and apply. If anyone in the office thinks you are a fit, someone will call you. Well if I have to do all the searching what is the recruiter getting paid to do?

    There was a time when you built a relationship with a recruiter and they followed you your entire career. They knew everything about you and used their relationships with companies to match you to jobs. I do not know what recruiters today are supposed to be.

    In any case, it makes it a bit more difficult when you experience a recruiter that treats you like another bit of dust that has to be mopped up. So I’ve been minimizing my exposure to that disheartening experience. I am confident in my skills and abilities and know I will find a fit in the right time, in the right place.

    I look forward to today’s call with Ms. Gunn and to learning how MGD is a different kind of placement service. Thanks so much for taking time to participate and Thank You Tory for including this in this program.

  10. je

    I have had both good and bad experiences with staffing agencies. I have gotten numerous temporary assignments through several of them. The bad thing is, some of them misrepresent the position as temp-to-perm when the employer has no intention of hiring the temp. But some of them do; I obtained two permanent positions from these assignments. Right now, corporations receive so many resumes for their openings that they do not need to pay the large fee most agencies charge for permanent placements. I will entertain assignments from about 4 of the agencies out there but try to avoid the others. I agree that my time is too valuable to waste on interviews for non-existent jobs or ones for which I am a bad fit.

  11. I.S.

    If there is an agency that places specifically for federal government jobs (policy analyst, management analyst etc.), I wouldn’t mind working with them. Do these type of agencies exist?

  12. PL

    I have only had one experience and it was with a national temp agency. I went in and did all their paperwork and did the interview and they were very nice and professional but didn’t seem to be optimistic about getting me work. I was sent some tutorials for pgms I wasn’t familiar with that are evidently in demand (i.e Excel, Microsoft Office) and then they automatically sent me an availability questionaire every 2 weeks. The rep said that only about 25% of their people are getting placed right now so basically it was probably a good attempt but didn’t result in a product for me. I have sent my availability in and have taken their tests and still nothing.

  13. Veronica

    I attempted to find a job through staffing agencies and temp agencies, however one told me I was overqualified for the positions they routinely staffed and the other told me I did not have enough administrative experience.

  14. SM

    Question for Ms. Gunn for today’s call:

    1. Can you speak a bit about your process to match candidates with the job profile?

    2. What is your position about matching a candidate for an opening even if candidate has many more years experience, has more skills than is required and is obviously over-qualified for the position? When folks need a job in a poor market, that kind of job would help pay the bills.

    Thank you.

  15. I too, have had both good and bad experiences with agencies. When I was laid off the first time a few years ago I had some success with a national agency and when their opportunities dried up found great success with a local Boston agency — John kept me in assignments very steadily. I actually had a great position that was intended to be temp to hire — that is, until the first jolt hit the economy in 2008 and corporate instituted a hiring freeze, and eventually laid off any temp staff. Things were pretty dry in the temp market after that.

    I finally got a perm job, and I grabbed the first one offered even though it was much lower paying than I needed. But survival is survival.

    Now I’m back to searching due to outsourcing and a staff layoff, and I am NOT finding temp positions this time. I have been offered many, but they would net me less than unemployment. The national agency has been very good at contacting me with assignment possibilities but so far nothing has come to fruition. The Boston group has had mainly labor jobs coming in their doors so they haven’t had anything for me.

    The greatest frustration is the glut of recruiters contacting me at various times, having me take my time to come in and ‘sign up’ and then — poof — I never hear another thing from them. As a matter of fact they often sound dismissive when I call to check in as though I’m wasting their time. So my conclusion is that they rope people in for some sort of registration drive they need to keep up their numbers. They certainly haven’t done anything for me.

    The last one who had me come in actually was 20 minutes late to our meeting — then when he came out to the waiting room completely ignored me while he chatted with the receptionist for another 5 minutes — needless to say, I was not impressed with him and haven’t bothered contacting him after the first couple weeks.

    I am still working all the agencies I can each week.

  16. One other thought —

    What I am seeing is employers are offering VERY cheap dollars for positions they want to fill. I can’t live on $10 an hour!

  17. JF

    This call is terrific! Thank you so much!

  18. JF

    If the agency has presented you, when and how often can you check back with them if they are not super chatty?
    I heard back last Saturday but I still haven’t heard again to get me into the company.

  19. Gretchen Gunn


    While I don’t have a list of agencies that work on federal contracts, we have worked on them. We were only able to do so with a GSA award. Look for firms that have awards to do business with the government. I imagine that you have some level of security clearance. This will also help agencies working with the FED find you. Hope that helps.

  20. Gretchen Gunn


    How often should you call a company is subjective and something that you can set up with your contact up front (we call these up front contracts). “How often shall we communicate, and would you like me to follow up with you since I know you are working on multiple positions” is one approach. Here’s something to keep in mind and it’s not great news. If they aren’t calling you, one of two things has happened, either the client isn’t responding, or they did respond with a no and the recruiter hasn’t let you know.

  21. Anita

    I have been on both sides of the track; as a job applicant and as a staffing specialist. Interestngly I got my staffing position basically the week I was terminated from my job. I had gone to the enemployment office in order to sign up for my benefits, while there I spoke to the staffing specialist and handed her my resume (my previous background was customer service management and admin)but I was applying for an entry level temp warehouse position in the evening; however I made it clear to the agent that I would spend my day hours job hunting for management positions. She appreciated my candor and sent me for a drug test and background check that same day. I was told that I needed to come to their office for orientation within the next couple of days. Do not misunderstand me this was a depressing step back (the thought of entry level industrial work)but I find I work best if I am productive or have goals. Anyway the day I was suppose to go to orientation the agency called me because the staffing specialist remembered me from the employment office and recommended that they give me a last minute call to come and cover their phones for the day. After covering the phones, filing away all the paperway, handling the walk in traffic and rearranging the office. The manager asked what kind of work had I done in my past career and what position had I applied for with them. I reached on the desk where I was working handed her my resume and she immediately put in a call to one of their other offices with a vacancy and arranged an interview for me. I got the staffing position and eventually because an off site trainer and recruiter for one of their government programs. That being said during the time I did work as a staffing specialist I made it a point to be upfront with applicants about job leads, testing and whether or not they would get a call back or if the vacancy did not materialize I would communicate with the applicant and always try to generate other leads for them. I felt it important to make sure that my appliacants and my customers were a good match skillwise as well as temperament. IT is a tough situation but I must say I relocated and the job I have now I acquired through a temporary agency and I am now a permanent employee.

  22. SM:

    We match candidates to a job based on a combination of their ability (skillset) to do the job and how successful we think that they will be within the team and the organization. In terms of being overqualifed, I personally look at that as a plus… especially in contract/staff augmentation situations which may be an area to consider if you haven’t already.

  23. CR

    My expereince in the last several years has been horrible! I won’t go into too much detail, except to say that my time was wasted, many of the agencies wanted the list of other agencie I had contacted/worked for and the companies that I had been sent out to for jobs. Basically they wanted leads. And I’ve done what many of done when promised work: I completed pages upon pages of paperwork that lead to absolutely nothing. Frustrating. So I have NOT contacted any agencies–I’ve been tempted though because I need the work.

  24. Debbie G.

    I have had mixed experiences on both sides of using a staffing firm: as an employer and as a candidate. The best experiences as an employer have been the result of being very clear with the requirements I had: the skills and traits needed, the specific work assignment, duration, work hours required, remote vs. on-site, etc. Over time you can tell if a staffing firm is really listening to and understanding your needs or not.

    I haven’t had as much luck as a candidate. I submitted a profile and a resume to and have met with a company several times that focuses on placing high level (with over 20-25 years industry experience) consultants, but they are a mid west based company and are still trying to gain traction in the Boston area, so nothing has come from them. I have also sent my resume into a few other local companies for posted positions, but have never heard anything back from them (either way.) I know I am not being assertive enough with these companies so I am looking forward to listening to the call play back to hear the right way to approach them and strengthen these relationships.

  25. Mary

    Years ago I had a lot of success with headhunters, who often found opportunities where I was a fit personality wise but might not have the industry experience; their rapport with their client got me interviews – and offers – on jobs I would not have thought to apply for.

    This time around, my experience is similar to most of the comments. I’ve replied to postings for temp jobs, and was only contacted by two agencies. One sent an application and set an appointment three weeks later. I had to go out of town unexpectedly, and when I called to reschedule was told that person wasn’t in on the day scheduled! I left a voice mail and never heard back.

    The second response was from a Texas recruiter. They emailed and I responded but never heard back either. The job they posted was also posted by several other agencies, so I don’t think the client had actually picked out which agency they were giving the job.

    I can honestly say that I have not pursued these agencies as some of my younger colleagues who filled out the forms and went through the process never got calls. It is easier for me to just contact people I know who might have overflow work and ask them if there is any project they need help on.

  26. KBH

    Just listened to Gretchen Gunn’s phone call. What great information for those of us dealing with agencies! The questions Gretchen suggested to ask agencies make alot of sense and should make for a more positive experience.
    Thanks, Gretchen and Tory!

  27. Alison

    As for job placement services, I have tried using several. One was set up through a neighbor of mine. It was mainly a temp agancy. It wasn’t in the field I wanted to get into, just adminstrative if I recall correctly. I interviewed with them and then never heard from them again. Part of this was because they knew I was looking for regular work. I have bills to pay and need a steady pay check. I may be young and live at home, but Sallie Mae wants their money. I don’t have someone to turn to for help.

    Another one I walked in, filled out my prep work and then their computers were down. I made an appointment the next day. When I web there, the computers were still down. Thanks for calling to tell me, not! I was told she would call when to reschedule. That never happened. I figured the place was a waste of my time.

    The last one I found was through a friend on LinkedIn. She mainly recruited for adminstrative, but the did get some other jobs on occationally too. I said I’d be interested if it was in a department I’d want to move up in, i.e. marketing,sales, etc. That was in May, and I never got an interview or a lead. I have contacted her with an updated resume and she said they didn’t have anything suited for me, but she will let me know.

    Overall, I know people who this has worked for. They found great jobs that they never would have considered or found without them. However, this has yet to work for me. I hope that it will happen for me.

  28. sad

    i have tried staffing companies but they were not reliable to call you back and when i would call them the response was “we haven’t found anything yet for you. i think they are good if you are unemployed.

  29. PAL

    I have had great relationships with staffing agencies throughout my career. I discovered them in my twenties when I was experiencing periodic layoffs from my employers. As Gretchen mentioned, I always had relationships with several agencies. I then worked hard to become their go to person for great assignments. I have not had the experience of being hired full-time from an agency mainly because i was doing administrative assistance to pay bills while I looked for professional opportunities. I noticed there are now more agencies specializing in my current field of instructional technology.
    My only bad experience happened last year. For some reason the agency could not get their pay-roll act together and paid workers late. The employer had us switch to another staffing agency they were using.

  30. MJD

    Staffing Firm: I have used a staffing agency. They were unprofessional, kept me waiting for an hour and no apology. I called them several times but never received a reply of any kind. I was very disappointed. After reading the earlier posts I am not unique.

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