Returning to the Workforce

  • Sep 08, 2005
  • Vicky Smith
  • Career advancement

When I train people in job search techniques, one of the areas I focus on is use of Recruitment Agencies because they are a big part of the hidden job market. The majority of people still are very negative about agencies but base their decision on wrong perceptions. One of the misguided perception is " Why should I work for an agency for minimum wage while they get so much money from the employer off of my work." There are several facts I point out which make using agencies become very appealing.

* Companies chose to use agencies because they are experts in recruiting suitable candidates for the company's staffing needs. In London, over 80% of companies use agencies for permanent, temporary or contract needs. If you do not use agencies as a job search method, you are cutting out 80% of the available jobs.

* This is an opportunity to get you foot in the door of excellent London companies and also to learn new skills. Many, many people have secured excellent permanent positions through a temporary assignment. Like everything else in life, there are rules and one has to make compromises initially to achieve goals. 

* There is definitely a difference between the pay rate to the associate and the bill rate to the client. But what initially is not recognized is that all operating costs, the agencies own staffing costs and all government remittance because the associates are the agency's employees come from the difference. The agency is in business to make a profit but the profit comes after all expenses are paid.

* Many people become disgruntled with agencies because they were not hired for the assignment they wanted. Of course, it is the agency's fault. Those individuals never evaluate what they may have done wrong in the interview. The job of the consultant, who is professionally trained in interviewing, is to pick the best-qualified candidate to suit the client's needs. Those needs are the technical skills but also the interpersonal skills. The attitude of many people coming in for interviews is "This is whom I am so take me as I am and you better hire me for the job I want." Unfortunately those people are not preparing themselves properly to get the job.

Jane Vickers, Director of Public Relations, for Express Personnel has written the following article on women re-entering the workforce. The article has some good ideas for everyone who is looking for a job right now.

I often hear, "My children are older now, in school full time and don't really need me as much. I have been out of the work force for a few years. How do I go about getting a job?" Technology has changed so rapidly and will continue to evolve, that many people are nervous and insecure about going out to work. Sally Aarssen was one of those people. "My greatest challenge in re-entering the workforce was finding a job that best suited my family's schedule and my skill sets. My past work experience was not conducive to the changing demands of my family and my skills were not current for the present workplace. The skill set I did not have was computer software knowledge. The changes in technology were overwhelming when I re-entered the workforce. Luckily, there were many resources available that allowed me to brush up on my software knowledge including Internet tutorials and courses offered locally."

Knowing where to start is half the battle. Sally, and many people like here turn to Temporary Staffing Firms for guidance. Sally turned to Express Personnel Services, the largest temporary staffing firm in London, to give her the help to re-enter the work force. Express and other staffing firms, often have free tutorials on different software you can use and learn at your pace, after you register with them. Express Personnel offers free tutorials in Excel, Word and Access. Temporary staffing firms can send you out into the work force on different assignments, which vary in length of time and work responsibilities, depending on your skill level. This is an excellent way to get used to being back out in a working environment. "After applying to several jobs both via the Internet and through the mail, my attempts were unsuccessful. Working with Express Personnel assisted me with my first placement, which in fact, led to a permanent position. Express was the link I needed to get my foot in the door," says Aarssen.

Tracey Johns, senior executive recruiter for R.W.J. & Assoc., the permanent recruiting division of Express Personnel Services, tells us that she often has people coming to her for advise and help. "Upgrading your education, taking career related courses is the best help you can give yourself," says Johns. "In a professional career, networking is the key. In many cases people under utilize the networks and contacts they already have. You just have to talk to everyone you know, whether it is neighbors, other parents at school, people in different association, clubs and volunteer programs you belong to."

If you feel like Wendy Leslie who says:" Returning to the workforce after so many years is almost like walking through a time differential. Where, when and how do you assemble yourself after being out of the workforce so long? Change is a constant and keeping yourself in tune with the massive communication leaps our generation has created can be the ultimate challenge. A person's success and self-confidence in the working environment depends on continually learning new skills." Don't be intimidated. Update your skills, network with everyone, and go to the professional who can help you. Consider working some temporary assignments to ease your way back into it and gain confidence in your ability.