Underhand Agency Tricks
This is the second part of the two part series on recognizing underhand Agency tricks and learning to deal with them, without impacting yourself. To be forewarned is to be is to be forearmed.
The majority of agents are decent people. However, like many people who are under threat of their jobs and are getting desperate, they will sometimes resort to desperate underhand agency tricks.
If the contractor is prepared and knows what‘s coming, then they can hit these bouncers all round the ground.
One tactic (or trick) is for an agency to contact the contractor saying that they want to take some references. You will, of course, reply that you would prefer to give the references when you have a definite job interview.
They will, of course, reply that there are some employers who will not even see you without the agency having obtained a reference for you. Except for naive contractors (and there must be plenty of them or agents would have given this up long ago), you both know that this is a trick (or tactic) to obtain the names of your old bosses, or, in the agent‘s eyes, people who hire contractors.
The first thing to say to the agent is that you are happy to supply references. However, you will only give them when they get you a definite job interview. If they do happen to get you a job interview, you can decide whether to give them the references or not. It is best to say that you will supply them at the interview.
The agent might well say that the employer needs them before they‘ll even see you. It is almost certain (99% sure) that the employer has made no such request. Just ask for the employer‘s email or address. Either that or say that you‘ll send a copy to the employer in a registered envelope.
You could of course just tell the agent to ‘get lost‘ in the beginning. If they are up to this then don‘t have very much and are getting pretty desperate anyway. Even agents don‘t like to do this unless they‘re getting desperate. It is better to keep everyone ‘sweet‘ if you can, though, without giving anything away.
When it does come to references, though, many contractors worry about whether they can get references from their old bosses. That‘s why you should never give their names unless you have cleared it with them beforehand. Many contractors just give the names of friends that they have worked with.
Agencies never do their homework. All they want to do is tell the employer that they have had ‘very good references‘ for the person that they are putting forward. They don‘t really want to look too closely and don‘t know what questions to ask anyway.
Contractors Bottom Line
When agents want to put contractors forward for roles, they will ask them what rate they are looking for. They even ask ‘What‘s your bottom line? What‘s the lowest rate that you will take? We‘ll obviously try to get you as much as we can though’.
Once you‘ve said what your bottom line is, you‘ll never get any more than that. If they happen to get any more from the company, then they‘ll keep it themselves. The only time that you should consider such a deal is if you can get the agency to agree that they will take a set percentage. So that the more that they get from the client the more that you will get.
I wouldn‘t even agree to this though, as the priority of the agent will be to get the business. If that means putting you in cheaper than anybody else to get the business, they‘ll probably do it.
Do beware those underhand agency tricks, though.