Re: Agencies (Long)

Subject: Re: Agencies (Long)
From: John Posada <jposada01 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 11:20:21 -0800 (PST)

I've been standing (sitting?) on the sidelines during
the discussion of this topic, but I cannot any longer.

First...I've been a contractor for several years, and
have used a half-dozen agencies during that time. Some
where better than others. However, it has made my
life easier by realizing..

1) The most important party to each agency is the
agency. No problem, I place myself first, and the
cleint places themself first. You can be honest, and
still know your priorities.

2) An agency is a sales organization. Sales
organizations must have a constant stream of leads to
remain competitive. They can ask you anything they
want...and you can say "I'd rather not say" to
anything you want.

If I'm asked anything I don't want to discuss:

Agency: "Mr. Posada...we'd like to know where else you
have been submitted."

Me" If you give me an indication of the TYPE of
company and the GENERAL GEOGRAPHICAL AREA, I'll let
you know what companies, otherwise, where else I've
been submitted is really not important.

Agency: "A telecom company in Morristown"

Me: "Yes, I'm in at AT&T, so let's discuss this and
see if it is the same AT&T or a different company."

3) The agency, with exception (I personally have two
exceptions), wants to keep as much as possible....and
you want to get as much as possible. Fact of life and
nothing wrong with that.

4) Just as there are a large number of "poor"
agencies, there are a number of "poor" writers. Your
job is to filter them out and their job is the same.
They can ask for references at any point, and you can
detirmine when you will give them.

First, never give a reference of any type from a
current employer...too much can go wrong. Instead,
keep a list of various pre-authorized references from
previous positions. I have 15 can I can choose from
and before leaving each position, I asked their
permission to use them in the future.

When I start talking to an agency I've never met with
before, after our first "feeling-out" discussion, I'll
give them one reference, just so they can get a feel.
Then, and only after the appointment has been set and
confirmed, I'll give them two more. Which ones I give
them are based on who/where I'm going. If they do
financial, I'll give two financial references. if it
is a person of big-title (VP, COO), then I'll give
them a comparable level reference.

One of the important issues to me is that I don't wear
out my welcome for any reference, so I'll alternate
who I give.

5) They have the right to ask you what you are making.
I answer this one of two ways:

a) I'm making $48 per hour, but I've learned more
during my last contract and I'll only accept $52 or
more...tell me what I'll be doing and I'll tell you
how much more.


b) Well, what I was making is not important because
that's them and this is you. For this position that
you've described, I want $52 per hour.

6) "Must haves" will change. A client defines the
requirements and submitts them to the agencies. "Must
know Word, PowerPoint, and Visio." They then
interview. During one of the interviews, the applicant
says "btw...I know html". The client thinks "hey, I
forgot about that...I want the applicants to know
html.", Next applicant walks in "We need you to know
Word, PowerPoint, Visio, and html." You: Hey agency!,
why didn't you tell me they needed me to know html?!"
Agency: "Huh?"

7) a) You must remain in control
b) You tell (or don't tell) anything you want
c) The agency needs you more than you need them
d) Be professional, civil, honest, and firm.
e) You have a job to do and so do they
f) You can always just say no...explain why if you
want (turn it into a selling point), but if you cannot
explain why, you can say no anyway.
g) If you believed you were asking the right
questions and end up with a lemon position anyway,
first, don't whine about it. Second, figure out what
slipped through the cracks during the interview
process and don't make the same error when you
interview the next time.

John Posada, Merck Research Laboratories
Sr Technical Writer, WinHelp and html
(work) john_posada -at- merck -dot- com - 732-594-0873
(pers) jposada01 -at- yahoo -dot- com - 732-291-7811
"The art of creating software that is usable by individuals is a communication skill. It is not a programming skill."
--Bill Atkinson, creator of MacPaint and HyperCard
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