Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Why We ALL Hate Dealing With Looking For Work.

This was originally an email sent to friends over a year ago.

On Thursday May 8, 2008, I was contacted by Camerin Strange, Office Services Recruiter, from The LaSalle Network. He said he saw my resume on CareerBuilder.com and wanted me to come in to interview for two phone position assignments they had availible. He went into a brief answer for each. I forgot what the first one was, but, I wasn't thrilled by it so I then asked him what the second one was , which was an Answering Service position they had for a client of thiers. The hours would be 3p to 11p at their client's location, Monday through Friday.

'AH' I thought. 'This is great!' I will be at an answering service, a job that I love and at which I am good, and my kind of hours, nonetheless. PLUS, no weekends; Camerin told me that for this position, there would be no weekends. I got to thinking about it and for a temp assignment, there wouldn't be, even though, should I have lasted to get hired on fully by that company, I probably would.

Let me interject now and say that I have interviewed at another answering service and am waiting for a call back from them. It has been one week since they said they would call me back one way or another and two weeks since I originally filled out an application. I say this for two reasons: 1) I have yet to give up home that they will call, and 2) The woman made it clear that, should I be hired, I would have to work one day every weekend. No problem.

I asked Camerin Strange, Office Services Recruiter for the LaSalle Network, which is a staffing agency, who told me about this temp-to-hire position, if anybody had ever been hired to working for this client from their temp status. I was assured that yest they have, that there would be room for growth in this company, and that there were benefits with this company (their client) as well. Camerine then sent me an e-mail confirming the interview and reminding me what he told me over the phone:

"3. Three Items to Bring to Your Interview

a. Two forms of government identification (driver's license, passport, SS card, etc.)
b. The names and phone numbers of two past supervisors that we can contact for a reference.
c. Clean, hard copy of your resume, in addition to the resume you will e-mail to our office assistant as requested above. Her e-mail again is: chicagoresumes@thelasallenetwork.com."

So, if we are all paying attention, they will have three resume's of mine in total by the time I got there, the one as seen on carrerbuilder.com, the one I e-mailed to them, and the hard copy I would bring.

Camerin also told me to look at the attachment included in the e-mail.

I couldn't see the attachment and although I e-mailed him my resume on Thursday, I waited until Sunday night to e-mail him about the attachment (because I wanted to make sure that there wasn't something I was mising as there was something that gave me the option to, "View," but, it didn't open) as well as I couldn't remember if he said the attire was business casual or business professional, and, even though they would have 3 copies of my resume, would they need me to fill out the application on their website (although I didn't say it, it would have been to save time).

Camerin called me at 9:29 Monday morning saying that the attire was buisness casual, that he would re-send the attachment, and that I didn't need to fill out the application online.

I got a reminder call at 4:53 that day from a young woman who works at the LaSalle Network saying I had an 11 a.m. interview the next morning and a few things to remember, 1) The dress is business professional, 2) Bring in two forms of identification, 3) Bring a hard copy of my resume, 4) Get there 1/2 hour early to fill out an application.

Some of you may be rolling your eyes at this point because I wanted to fill out the application online to save time and they clearly told me I didn't have to do that but now they wanted me to come in early to fill out the application. It is probalbly because the online application meant nothing overall and that they wanted a hard, hand written copy, of the application. The online application was possibly no more than an announcement to the LaSalle Network that one is looking for a job. There has not been a staffing agency to which I have been that didn't require one to fill out an application. Furthermore, even with looking for a job online, if I provide a copy of my resume in html or text form, they still want me to fill out the stupid application that the site provides. Some even specify, "Do not type [write], 'Please see resume.'"

Besides, if you start rolling your eyes now, you wont be able to read the rest of my adventure.

The LaSalle Network is in Chicago. 200 N. LaSalle St, Ste 2400, which is 7/10 of a mile away from the Metra Station. It's a straight walk down, don't even have to cross over to the other side of the street, so, it wasn't too bad of a walk, but, I'm not a fan of the 1 hour 20 minute train ride and was considering driving to the prospective job (if I interviewed well enough to get that job), desptite having to possibly pay to park, because even though I didn't know where the client's place of business was, I knew, from Camerin, that it was a little north of 200 N. LaSalle. IF I got that position/assignment, hours 1500 to 2300, and the next train on the Metra Rock Island District Line leaves at 11:05 pm, I would have to wait until the last train of the day, which leaves at 1230 in the morning, which, technically, is the first outbound train of the day. I would have had to possibly have walked past homeless people, but, all in all, it's not like it would require me to go through a shady area. I would have had to wait a while though. I'd get off the train at 1:29, should the train run on time and I'd be home at, on average, 1:50 in the morning.

I get to the building and after checking in with security and getting on the wrong elevator and going past security and explaining that I had agreed too hastily the first time about where I was going, he told me the right way to go.

I get up to Suite 2400 and, lo and behold, Camerin has done his job well!! There were so many people when I went to the desk to check in, after they greeted me, they gave me a stack of paperwork to fill out, and told me that they were sorry and that there were no pens left and did I have a pen? A staffing agency with no pens. They're on the ball, they are. To be honest, I was lucky I had a chair and a clipboard.

I filled the things out and handed them back. I was told that as soon as there was a free computer, they would test my skills.

I am pretty sure I checked on the one sheet that I knew MicrosoftWord, but, they did not test me on it, something I thought was odd, but yet thinking, 'Well, it's not like I'll have to do this for the answering service, I was grateful for because that rest would have taken more time. I was tested on General Office knowledge, one minute timed typing test, and a three minute timed typing test. I scored 41/47 on my General Office test (I wonder if it was the math or the spelling that I had the most trouble with, a 56 wmp on the one minute test with two mistakes, so the actual score was 54 wmp, and a 61 wpm on the three minute test with 0 mistakes, meaning, that for three minutes, on average, I typed over a word a second correctly. I was told before I began testing that they would throw the lower of my scores out and that I didn't need to print, they would worry about that.

I went back up to the desk and told them that I was done with the testing. I think the girl was trying to print out the tests, but, for some reason, it was giving her trouble. To make use of the time not printing (I couldn't see the computer, for all I know she could have been checking her e-mail), she asked me for my two forms of ID and had me fill out tax forms, with the, "Super happy fun pink pen!" It was a sparkly pink pen with black ink, but, at least they now had a pen, which was I think one of the messages she was trying to tell me. I filled out the tax forms at one of the desks (one of them was now free), where my IDs were returned to me.

I was impressed with filling out the tax forms because I though, 'Surely this means I'm going to get hired for the position. Maybe I wont even have to interview because they are so impressed with my resume that they are offering me the job right away.'

I completed those forms along with one of all their rules as an employee of theirs I had to initial and returned it back to the desk.

Shortly after that, my name was called (correctly, something which Camerin couldn't do either call and something I had to correct the one girl when I was first incorrectly addressed) by "Steve Mikrut, Director Call Center Staffing & Recruiting" as it says on his card.

I was told in the e-mails and the literature I got while I was at the LaSalle Network that I would be meeting with at least two, possibly three people who would interview me.

I followed Steve to an interview room, a room where the wall with the door and the wall perpendicular was painted blue and the other two walls were painted yellow. There was a round table in the room and two chairs.

I told him I was there because I was told about the answering service position from 3p to 11p which I was interested in and that I am looking for a carrer and not a job, and not just an assignment. He asked if I was interested in perm-to-hire positions and though I think I hesitated, I said that I was interested as long as they would result in me being hired outright by the company who was using my services, but, I was there for the answering service position.

Very quietly, and I empnhasize this because he had not been this soft spoken prior, he said, "Our client filled that position yesterday."

He then went on, "I don't want you to leave The LaSalle Network thinking that we brought you here under false pretenses..." I did not think they had, to tell the truth. I thought that, at best, there was a failure to communicate. However, assuming that they DID get me in there under false pretenses, they still don't want me to leave thinking they did.

Steve asked me what I knew about The LaSalle Network. I told him I knew it was a staffing agency, and asked him if there was more to it. He said that yes there was because even though they were a staffing agency, they were better than that, they were a higher class staffing agency. "I'm not going to compare us to ManPower. I cannot promise that we have a job out there for everybody." "That's all right," I said, "I've been through ManPower and they weren't able to find me any work, either. If you want to distance yourself from them, that's okay."

It turns out, that they are in the same boat as ManPower because neither was able to find me work.

I kept emphasizing that I was looking for a career at this point in my life, that I am ready to settle down, and I do not want assignments, but, I was told that (and he asked me if I spoke with Camerin) there was the answering service position and that that company has hired people from The LaSalle Network in the past as full time for them. I told him that I was particularly good at that type of work and any over the phone work that they may need, I can talk to people in person if they needed me for that type of work, but, I am good at over the phone. "But, what about customer service?" "Yes, I can do Customer Service positions."

I asked him if he was going to check out my references, as they would provide him with the truth (that I'm a good worker, that, except for two staffing agency assignments, which I left, the only reason that I hadn't had any long term work was because, even though I was told some of my assignments would be temp-to-hire, my assignment was always up by day 88 (if I was there for 90 days, the company would have to have brought me on to their payroll full time), and in one case (two, actually, but, I forgot the second), the one company called me back two more times, that I am punctual, that I am respectful, and that I was always at work when needed). He looked down, between my application on the table and his chest with a panicked, wide-eye look as if his mind was thinking, "How am I going to tell her I'm not going to check out her references?"

We were going over my resume and job history and I told him that I have been through three staffing agencies and I told him once or twice, "You know how it is, it is either feast or famine with staffing agencies; they either have a few assignments lined up or it's months of waiting inbetween." He nodded at this.

We got through talking a little bit more, "But have you ~EVER~ worked in customer service?" I told him yes. After high school and after college I worked at Catherines/Plus Sizes and Phillips 66, respectively. In addition to that, I also did over the phone customer service through a staffing agency.

He told me that the competition is fierce and that it's tough finding a job out in the world (he was saying all this after he didn't think I had the correct qualifications). Really? Hadn't noticed.

I think it was somewhere around this time he took objection to me calling him, 'sir,' incidentally, and wanted to be reffered to by his name, which is fine.

We got to discussing my application a little bit more and the gaps in my employment history, and this was when I told him about the assignments I left early, one being the one for a car dealership where I had to get people to come in to the dealership promising them they could leave with a car, even though their income was negative.

"That's what I don't get!" he said. "Why do you have this down on your resume if it's a job you didn't like?"

Perhaps he meant if it's a job I left, but, I told him, it is because it is one of my most recent jobs and if I put down something else, my resume would look that much shadier, making hiring people wonder, 'did she not work for these 16 months?' He should have known, by common sense in his field and because I kept hinting at it and explaining it to him, that I had some assignments that were only a day or so as well as these bigger week(s) to month(s) ones.

"But, WHY?" he asked me; why did so many of my assignments end prior to 90 days? I told him they just ended, but, if he checks out my references, especially the ones from the staffing agencies, where, hopefully, they have a complete record of my time with them, they could give him more detail.

AND, note, instead of him seeing that I was called, again and again, for different assignments, he asked why didn't I ever have a static assignment, when that's not what having an assignment is about.

He asked if I was looking for permanent work at this time (not now, but when I was working through assignment agencies). I confessed I was not. He asked why. I told him it was so I could be avalible for the next assignment and I wanted to get in experience. He said at this point that, "It seems to me, that experience comes with the longer you last at a job. They'll give you more responsibilities." "Yes, I understand that now, but, I didn't then. For example, my last job, for three of the five months I was there, I was training the new girls, and I say new girls because there was only one guy working there at that time."

So, even this point, that for over half the time I was there, I was a trainer for the job, and I'm reliable, and even though, I scored a 61 wpm with zero errors on the test, and I am polite and mindful, if not respectable to authority, apparently, because of my work history, I was told, "I won't be able to place you." He told me that his clients want to see people with work histories denoting that they have been at their jobs at least 6 to 8 months.

"When you say, 'I wont be able to place you, do you mean, 'I, Steve, will not be able to place you,' or, 'The LaSalle Network will not be able to place you'?"

Very quitely, he said, "The LaSalle Network will not be able to place you."

He asked if I had any other questions.

I asked him if he would have a talk with Camerin.

*pause*. Very quietly, "I will have a conversation with him."

I told him that if there was a recording of the conversation, to go back and listen to the recording, because I could have sworn that is the reason I was coming in to the interview today.

You know how when somebody tries to sell you something, they talk fast and they use buzz words to explain something? And if you try to ask them for clarification, they just repeat the same phrase using the buzz words? That is typically what happens when I go to an interview, especially at a staffing agency, but, that didn't happen this time. As a matter of fact, Steve was looking at me with a deer in the the headlights look on his face and in his eyes. He was quieter at times than others, and he seemed kind of, in general, nervous.

He seemed relieved when I was very understanding about not being able to be employed there. I'm not that fussed about it to tell you the truth. I mean, if they wanted people with 6 to 8 months at least of experience in any one solid job, just to assign them to something that would be temporary, and not that familiar with how staffing agencies work, then I clearly would not be the best fit for them.

During the walk of shame back to the train, a woman asked me for money for the train. She said she was not homeless but just got out of the pen. Even though I was just rejected for employment, I gave her money. And, if she was in the pen for a while and had a job while in there, who knows, if it was over 6 months long, perhaps she can go to The LaSalle Network and they could place her.

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