I’m caught between two companies and a staffing agency

A reader writes:

I am in a rather difficult job situation, as as a current grad student who is only just starting her career, I am not in a position to say no to opportunities.

I am an associate at a staffing agency, and a year ago, they placed me for an assignment with a company, who we will call Company A. During the course of the assignment, Company A and I really hit it off. Despite the fact that they did not have an open position at the time, they expressed interest in having me join them permanently at some point in the future. Fast forward to present day, and I am now going through the interview process with Company A. I have been informed that there are many people at Company A who are in favor of my hiring, but of course, there are no guarantees.

Here is the twist. A few days after I started the interview process with company A, my staffing agency called me to say that they had a temp position with another company, who we will call Company B. They said that there was a possibility that Company B might take me on full time if I work out well for them. Since I did not expect Company A to hire me immediately, I accepted the assignment (as a grad student, I have to keep paying the bills!). One day later, Company A called me to express that they wanted me to do a temp job with them during the course of the hiring process. I informed Company A about the assignment with Company B, and they told me that they would contact my staffing agency and sort it out. The problem is, my staffing agency is not budging on this. They consider me to be locked in to the assignment with Company B, and I was told that if I back out, it will severely damage my reputation in the industry. Company A, however, is insisting to them that I am the only person who they want to do the temp job that they have.

I know that I am now in a situation where I will have to burn someone. I have to choose between Company A, where I have a great relationship and a lot of interest in their work or my staffing agency, who has been responsible for most of the job opportunities that I have had, but I am not necessarily passionate about the work that Company B does. I know that I am the one who has to make this decision, but is there a diplomatic avenue that I am just not seeing here? I feel awfully stuck in the middle.

Company A doesn’t have first dibs on you just because they’re considering you for a job. After all, if you were employed full-time somewhere else and interviewing with them, they couldn’t just insist that you temp for them for a while.

I’d say this to Company A: “I would absolutely love to temp for you again, but I’ve made a commitment to my agency to do another assignment. I’ve told the agency I’d love to switch to your assignment, but they’re aren’t authorizing it. But if you’re able to work it out with them directly, I’d love to do it.”

If they are reasonable people, they aren’t going to expect you to ruin your relationship with your agency for a temp job. If they would expect something that unreasonable, it’s a really good thing for you to find that out now, before you possibly take a regular position with them.

{ 71 comments… read them below }

  1. PEBCAK*

    I’m also a little suspicious of company A wanting her to do a temp job, seeing that she has ALREADY done a temp job for them. Obviously they know her and know her work…it sounds now like they are getting into “stringing her along” territory.

    1. some1*

      Agreed. And if Company A ends up *still* not bringing on as an employee at the end of the assignment, her agency has already told her that they’d be reluctant to place her somewhere else — and I believe them.

    2. Ruffingit*

      I completely agree. If they want to hire her, they should cut to the chase and do it. How long is this hiring process going to take exactly? Given that they really want this woman to work for them, why not hire her already and move on? They cannot expect that she will turn down other opportunities. She is first and foremost beholden (in a sense) to the staffing agency from whom she’s agreed to accept jobs. Why should Company B get screwed because Company A wants her to do a temp job? Company A needs to get its act together and hire her full-time if they want her services. Otherwise, they’re just going to have to suck it up and deal.

    3. Anonsie*

      I didn’t actually think about this until I saw your comment, but it’s an excellent point. OP needs to know exactly what their rationale is here.

      It may be perfectly reasonable– where I work getting approval for opening new roles is a lengthy, silly process. My first thought is that they have something in the works but also had this opportunity pop up. It makes sense to want to bring in someone you know is good, and having her there again could help them make a better case for a new position for her.

    4. Kim*

      I AGREE with you TOTALLY!! That’s exactly what it sounds like… If you’re going to hire her, then hire her, what’s with all this having her work on one job, having an extensive Interviewing process, and then asking her if she’d work another temp assignment while waiting to ‘hopefully’ be hired for the permanent position… wth?! Just hire her already…. As the old cliche goes,either “shytt or get off the pot”… Also, with Company B, don’t ever bite the hand that ‘already’ feeds you. :)

  2. Joey*

    I’d ask company A if they’re offering you a full time job. If they say yes, then I would ask for their hiring process timeline and say “I’m definitely interested, but I made a committment to work a temp assignment through x date with staffing Agency and my goal is to find long term work. Id love to work for you, but I can’t back out of a temp assignment to accept another temp assignment.”

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, and if they really want her to come on full-time at some point, they can hire another temp for the short-term thing and wait. That seems reasonable to me. This is good wording, too.

      1. Joey*

        I was thinking more that they might put take it as a sign that if they wanted him now theyd better do whatever they needed to to make it a full time job.

  3. AnotherAlison*

    I think Company A sounds like they may be in a situation where the department people want to keep you, but the HMFOC hasn’t authorized creating a full-time position. The department wants to keep you, but can only do it with a temp assignment. [or it could be any number of other scenarios]

    At my place, if they created a full-time role, it would also get posted internally. You never know what candidates will come out of the woodwork then. I’d say an F/T role at Company A is far from a lock. In your shoes, I’d go to “B”. If “A” really wanted you, AND had a real, open position, they would consider you as a candidate with or without the second temp assignment. If not, they’re unreasonable and it’s good to know now, like Alison said.

  4. Wubbie*

    I did temp work for quite a while, and there were a bunch of times I was told they “would love” to hire me permanently and nothing came to pass, so I’d be a bit wary of making any moves on the basis of that expectation.

    However, I also have a difficult time believing OPs reputation “in the industry” would be so horribly damaged by leaving a temp assignment, unless there’s some sort of contract involved. What would they say if she left for an actual permanent offer??

    1. Zahra*

      Well, if the industry is small and she goes against its social conventions, it could have an impact on her reputation. Leaving for another temp job is not the same as leaving for a permanent offer. Most people won’t bat an eye at leaving for a permanent job, whereas a significant number will ask “So… you left your temp agency for a temp job with no guarantee of a permanent job? And when the temp job ends without becoming permanent, what will you do?”

    2. Ally*

      I am literally in that situation! I temped for the summer and got called back – just got let go again today and told I “am welcome back anytime, am an asset” but there’s “no room” :( which makes me sad.

      TLDR; I would be wary about accepting a temp at place A and risking your reputation with place B and your firm! Think carefully. It’s a tough decision.

  5. Lily in NYC*

    We lose temps all the time for assignments that might lead to a full time job – I feel like it comes with the territory of hiring temps and don’t ever think twice about it. Honestly, I’d go with company A if your gut is telling you it’s going to work out.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit*

      But if she doesn’t get the gig with Company A, she’ll have burned her relationship with the staffing agency… which she needs, to get tide-her-over jobs and leads for permanent jobs.

    2. Joey*

      You’re in NYC though where it’s probably easier to get lost in the shuffle and there are lots more temp assignments.

      This is the way I think about it. Most recruiters/hiring managers wouldn’t hold it against you if you left a temp gig to accept a full time gig. If you leave a temp gig to accept a full time opportunity that turned out to be temp that raises a lot of flags.

      1. TroubledTemp*

        Company A asked me to interview for one of two F/T positions that they have open. The temp request came after I started the application process.

        1. Joey*

          I wouldn’t. I bet the more you want to be there (but aren’t actually there) the more they will want you. I wouldn’t hold it against you. You never know, you might be looking at TWO long term offers before it’s all over.

    3. Office Mgr*

      I would also go with company A. I don’t trust temp agencies one bit, I think they are only looking out for themselves and in larger cities there are so many of them. I was miserable at a temp assignment and I had been there for 8 months and felt my work was winding down and couldn’t stand my boss (really bad manager). I told my recruiter I wasn’t happy and was pretty sure I was finishing up what I was hired for and if he could start looking for other opportunities for me that would lead to full time employment. I felt he didn’t care since I was already placed and they were getting paid, so I signed with a different agency, got a great temp to perm assignment and promoted eight months later and never looked back. It’s in their best interest to keep you.

      1. StaffingPro*

        Wait, I am confused….you don’t trust temp agencies one bit, yet you signed on with another temp agency who gave you a great temp to perm assignment that gave you upward mobility? Thank goodness that recruiter trusted you. How about putting that broad brush away? There are bad apples in every industry.

        1. Bob Johnson*

          Temp agencies and their employees are scumbags, one step below used car dealers. You may be the exception to the rule. I’ve met a few.

    4. Truthful Taco*

      if it’s “going” to work out, company a needs to stop playing games and do good business: hire her outright. she’s already temped for them. they’re trying to exploit her.

  6. VictoriaHR*

    Also, talk to the manager of the staffing agency, not just the recruiter who got you the temp assignment with Company B.

    It is possible that the recruiter isn’t wanting to give up his/her commission that he/she received from placing you at Company B. If they pulled you to go work at Company A again, he/she might have to give money back.

    If you escalate the issue up to the staffing agency manager, hopefully it can get resolved. You would think that the manager would want to maintain relations with Company A and hopefully get a full-time placement fee out of them.

    1. TroubledTemp*

      I did in fact try and level with my temp agency. I also tried to rationalize by mentioning that by releasing me to Company A for the temp assignment, they would essentially get two clients where they would have only had one (meaning I get reassigned and another candidate goes to Company B). Company A already told them that they did not want another temp, so it was me or no one. However, it was still a no-go.

      1. Joey*

        Obviously B is the priority which could mean a couple of things:

        1. B is a better client
        2. They’re scared to lose B’s business
        3. They’ve seen this dog and pony show before.
        4. They’ll make more off of you at B than A
        5. You do something specialized at B and they don’t think they could find a replacement

        1. TroubledTemp*

          I’ve been told that B is a new client, whereas A is an existing one. You could be correct on the payout end, but I could only speculate. The interesting thing is that A is offering me a smaller title, but they are a larger organization and have more resources. I would have a higher title at B, but B is a tiny organization, so we also have to speculate if higher title = more responsibilities, including lower level stuff and if that equates to a larger or smaller salary.

  7. TroubledTemp*

    Hey guys, I am the original poster for this question. Thanks for all of your feedback! It’s been really helpful in getting my thoughts together. There are some points that I think that I should clarify.

    1. There are tangible, salaried positions open at company A. In fact, there are two with the same title available. Last year, they did not have open positions. This year, they contacted me and asked me to apply for one of the open positions. I know it’s not a game either, because I saw the position posted on an industry job board. So no matter what, they are at the very least, taking me through the interview process for F/T.

    2. Company B is looking for a full-time staffer as well, and my temp agency has expressed that they might make an offer for me if the temp assignment goes well. My hesitation with Company B is that I don’t have a lot of interest in their work and I only specialize in one portion of their office functions. With Company A, I have extensive background in every aspect of their operations and I feel like I can add value to their office.

    With all that said, keep the comments coming. I have found that feedback has been helpful in helping me sort everything out. Thanks again!

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Thanks for the added info.

      One question – is the temp job at “A” even related to the hiring process, or is it more of a situation where you’re applying for the job and working your way through that, and in the meantime, they had this job/project that it would be nice if you worked on as a temp? Would the successful candidate be temp-to-hire, even if it was someone else?

      What I’m getting at, is it seems reasonable that you can just take job B, and still apply for company A, independent of temping again at A. . .unless it *is* temp to hire. Then it could be temp-to-nothing, even if the job ads are out there. You wouldn’t be looked at as badly by “industry” or your agency if you quit the temp position at B when a full-time position at A started.

      1. TroubledTemp*

        I see what you are getting at.

        To answer your question, no the temp job is not required for Company A. They just happened to have a job that popped up now that I did well for them the last time around and want me to do it again for them.

        I took the assignment with Company B because Company A has a five round hiring process and they don’t expect to have their two candidates in place until late March/early April. The assignment at Company B as contracted is only until the end of February, but they have the option to discuss permanent hiring. It unfortunately just happened to coincide with Company A’s project, thus why the situation became messy.

        1. CAA*

          OK, this answered one of the questions in my post below. Worst case here is that you accept the F/T job with Company B at the end of Feb and end up leaving them for Company A about six weeks later.

          I still think you go with Company B for the temp job. If they make you an offer at the end of Feb, which is not guaranteed, and if you’re still in the running with Company A, then you could tell Company A you have another offer you need to seriously consider and you wonder if they would be able to move any faster.

          Even if you had to leave Company B after a few weeks, I don’t think it’s the end of the world. These things happen sometimes. You do have to be apologetic, and know that you’re never going to work at Company B again.

    2. Confused*

      Company A can’t really do anything about them temp position because they have to go through the agency to hire you, correct? You can’t be sure Company B will offer you F/T.
      Are you able to tell Company A something like, “agency will not let me do the temp assignment, but I am still very interested in the F/T position” ?

      1. TroubledTemp*

        Well, that’s the problem here. Company A and I really hit it off last year, so we have been in communication since I left them. We agreed that any business would go through my agency, but we were free to maintain contact. Since my agency won’t release me from the assignment with Company B, Company A is not unhappy with my agency and I am worried that that tension will compromise my chance to get the F/T position with them. Had my agency reassigned me to Company A, the contract would have gone through them as usual.

          1. Grace*

            I have sat in on executive board meetings where they wanted to hire the temps doing work so they didn’t have to pay the agency fees. The fact that Company A can’t move into gear and take care of business (i.e. bring you on as a permanent employee) makes me suspicious of them.

        1. CAA*

          A rational group of people would not hold the behavior of your employer against you that way. If Company A is made up of irrational people, best to find out now.

          1. Penny*

            Ditto. Them being unhappy with the agency should not discount you from FT consideration ,esp if they know how you feel.

        2. Confused*

          I understand your frustration but you may be overthinking it (trust me, I do it too!)
          If Company A is reasonable, I can’t imagine them holding the agency’s actions against you.
          The temp work has to go through the agency. Even if you said to the agency, “I love Company A, if you say ‘no’ I’m outta here!” then you would not be able to do the temp work. Maintaining contact is great because you can tell them you are still very interested in the F/T position, but doesn’t change the circumstances regarding Company B and the temp position.
          Also, as much as they like you, you have no solid offer yet.
          You may start with Company B and not get a FT offer, or get one and turn it down bc not a good fit.
          You may not get a FT offer Company A. If you get a FT offer from Company A, you would be leaving a temp position at B for a solid offer full time position. No reasonable person would hold that against you. Also, if you do get the full time position at Company A, neither of you would have to go the 3rd party, yay! Good luck!

        3. AnotherAlison*

          I agree with what CAA has said. If you can, I would keep in touch with your contacts at company A and explain the situation & that your hands are tied with the agency and company B. Make sure that your application/cover letter/resume clearly explain your time at Company A and the agency. You didn’t say if the new hiring manager for company A’s F/T position is someone you already worked with directly, but they might not know what happened & why you left the company originally. I have a temp that’s assigned to me half-time, and neither of us (her managers) knew the details of her contract. Only HR was in the loop with the agency. Unless she personally told me why she was leaving, I wouldn’t know. Her contract is open-ended, not for a set assignment.

    3. CAA*

      Is Company A going to refuse to keep interviewing you for full-time work if you don’t do their temp assignment? Probably not.

      Will they take you on as an independent contractor rather than a temp via a staffing agency? I’m guessing not, so you’ll have to stay employed by the staffing firm in order to go back to Company A.

      Will they have to pay off the staffing firm if they decide they want to hire you full-time while you’re temping there for the second time? You need to find this out. If you’re temping at Company A and their contract with your current employer states that they pay $x for hiring you away, then that may sway them towards a cheaper candidate or they may low-ball your offer because of the additional expense.

      Will your reputation be ruined forever if you refuse the job at Company B? Probably not, unless it’s a very tiny industry controlled by this one staffing agency. As a grad student doing temp work, it’s just not likely you’re that well known or crucial to anyone’s operations. This sounds a bit like the “permanent record” threat held over students’ heads. However, you may be burning bridges at the staffing agency, and possibly at Company B.

      All-in-all, I think you’re best to go temp at Company B and tell Company A that you’re very interested in pursuing the interview process with them. Unless Company A’s process takes an extremely long time, you’re not going to finish your temp assignment at Company B and start regular full-time work there before Company A makes you an offer. When that happens, then you just resign from your agency, giving two weeks’ notice, and it’s their job to replace you at Company B. Nobody at the staffing agency or Company B should hold it against you that you left when you got regular full-time work.

    4. Artemesia*

      I would think a company would respect a prior contractual commitment that you have made to company B. You don’t have a job offer from A — lots of ‘we’d love to have you applies’ turn into, ‘well we decided to go another direction’ or ‘the position got pulled’ or just peter out.

      You made a deal; go with it. Maybe B will turn out to be an opportunity and if A comes through at that point you can talk about breaking your commitment to B.

      If you go to a temp job with A you are telling them you are a little sketchy, you burn bridges with agency and with B and are the only one who suffers at all when this all falls apart.

      Doing the RIGHT thing rather than the expedient thing is the right thing. I learned this the hard way and have always come to regret expedient decisions I made when it meant breaking a commitment.

    5. nate*

      I’ve worked at a bit of temp agnecys but its been in hospitality. Don’t know if I am too late to reply. One tip, check your paperwork. Often agencies will have a fee you pay them if you leave an assignment. You may have to pay a staff fee $25 or something.
      Having this situation might be to your advantage and make someone want to hire you more. You can use one job to negotiate with the other. Also it can make your rate of pay go up as well. I’d say work at the temp job as long as possible but if the A one is the one you want and know about and like, do that one. Why not work at the temp job until A knows more of what they want to do.
      I would only worry about the temp agency if you want to work for them in the future. However also, there are other temp agencies and I have been able to go from one to the other etc when one started to jerk me around. Usually it is the other way around not the worker.
      I think you just have to be really careful, I have been told in interviews I”m the one that they want to hire etc and then the next day I was canceled. The worst that can happen is you end up with nothing and you don’t want that to happen.
      good luck

    6. TempEmployees*

      GO WITH COMPANY B!!!!!!!

      Because temp agencies usually need to be paid a significant fee if you’re hired on from a temp position (10-20% of your yearly salary), you are handicapping your chances of a permanent position by going back on as a temp at Company A. Usually this payout is no longer in the contract if you haven’t worked for the agencies for more than 6 months, sometimes a year.

      Company A already knows what you’re capable of. Apply for their permanent positions, and work for Company B waiting to see if A hires you on. The temp agency can end your employment at any time for any reason – so if you need to leave Company B with no notice – then that’s what you need to do. The temp agency offers you the same “at will” contract.

      See more on “Barriers to Direct Employment” here: http://www.temporaryemployees.org/#!barriers/c1gtk

  8. Brett*

    In temp work, treat yourself as a full-time employee of the agency, not as an employee of any of the contractors. Basically you are proposing cutting ties with your current employer and burning all bridges there to interview for a position with Company A, who does not have a written offer on the table for you.

    With those bridges burned, you have to worry about your agency’s contractual agreement with Company A. That agreement will probably include penalties against Company for bringing you in as a temp or permanent employees. If you cross your agency like this, they can use those penalties against Company A to discourage Company A from hiring you.

    1. Anonymous for Now*

      Absolutely. I’d bet both you and Company A had to sign agreements that you wouldn’t do business that didn’t go through the temp agency. If Company A hired you full time, they’d probably have to pay your agency something. That just happened to me–I was working with an agency, and my temp to perm job did go perm.

      And I live in NYC–in this economy there’s a lot of competition for temp and contract jobs. It’s definitely not what it used to be, so you really can’t afford to offend an agency that’s getting you regular work. And it also sounds like you’re not talking about an assistant job, but a higher-level posting. An agency that places you in those kinds of postings is REALLY hard to come by. Lots of agencies make lots of promises that they don’t fulfill.

      I understand the desire to work for Company A, but especially since your agency KNOWS about your desire to work for them, it could get financially and legally messy for both you and them if you decide to work for them directly. Company A might then decide you’re too much trouble in that case, cut you loose, and then you’d have nothing.

      OTOH, your agency is behaving jerkishly by not allowing you to take the posting you want. Why would they turn down business that way? Surely someone else could take the Company B posting? I wonder what’s up with that. Might be worth applying to some other agencies.

      1. TroubledTemp*

        Yes, we did, and we have always maintained any business issues through the agency. Company A and I both know that if they hire me, there would be a payout to my agency because I know that it is in my contract. If we weren’t aboveboard about everything, then this wouldn’t be a dilemma. The real question for me is how is this handled in a diplomatic and professional manner. I never intended to be caught in the middle of this.

        1. Joey*

          I don’t think its really as tough a spot as you’re thinking it is. I think you just wish you didn’t have to tell them no. Personally I’d be a little disappointed, but it wouldn’t negatively affect your candidacy for f/t. In fact Id probably respect you more for keeping your word.

            1. Anonymous for Now*

              I so understand what you’re saying. I’ve had so many opportunities fall through that I always felt terrible turning things down, even when it was the right decision. Best of luck in finding the best possible outcome.

            2. saf*

              ” I especially don’t like saying no at work.”

              You need to learn to say no at work. If you don’t, you are really setting yourself up for a lot of abuse at the hands of bad managers.

          1. Limon*

            This was my thought. Stay where you are and keep doing the job you have been hired for. The agency is your boss and you are an ethical person, be faithful to your current assignment and prove worthwhile and honest and be a good reflection back to your agency.

            A good company will respect your boundary when you say, I would like to come and work for you but I have another obligation and am not willing/able to break my commitment to the assignment. A good company will realize that how you behave to this current company is how you will behave for them, and they will wait.

            A bad company will ask you to jeopardize all future employment with your agency and the company you dump, and you will show that you are easily seduced by empty words. Right now company A’s words are empty.

            Your behavior is a reflection of your integrity and ethics, you may find company B is a far better company in the long run. Stay with them and do the right thing.

          2. Jen S. 2.0*

            Agree with Joey. This isn’t a very tough spot to me. The conflict is that what you want isn’t lining up with what you probably should do. That’s very different from when there are two equally strong should-dos.

            For the record, I agree with the folks who say to stay with Company B unless and until there is an actual full-time offer from Company A, or unless and until your job with B ends. If A has an opportunity when that happens, great…but until then, it’s all talk. The fact that A wants you has nothing to do with your employment with B; you’re currently spoken for. A needs to offer you a FT job if they’d like to hire you away from B.

  9. kristinyc*

    I was in a similar situation a few years ago – I had committed to (but hadn’t started) a temp assignment with company A using one new temp agency, but then got contacted about a better assignment with company B, through a temp agency I had worked with before.

    I had already felt some hesitation about company A – they wanted me to bring my own laptop, and the commute would have been twice as long. I ended up backing out of that one, and temping with company B for 3 months. At the time, I didn’t want to burn this new bridge, but I’m really glad I did. It’s not always a good idea, but sometimes it’s worth it.

    OP – how long is the assignment with your company B? If I were in your shoes, I might just do the assignment if it’s not long term, and let company A know when it’s over. My husband had several companies he was temping with, and one of them got frustrated that they couldn’t get him whenever they wanted (but they understood that he needed a paycheck). That company ended up hiring him full-time, and he’s been there more than a year.

    1. TroubledTemp*

      The assignment is for a month. Company A is aware of this, but they want me now because the job that they need immediately is time sensitive and requires a very specific knowledge of how to do it properly.

      Also, for the record, my industry is public and government affairs, since I saw that some people are curious.

  10. Jeanne*

    I just want to put your fears about getting a bad reputation in the industry at ease. It sounds like you’re just starting out in the industry and are holding junior positions. It is great that you want to guard your reputation, but don’t be too worried about that at this point over this issue.

    The biggest risk you run by taking the job with company A is severing ties with your temp agency. Even if the agency agrees to keep working with you after the move, it may not recommend you for placement for future posts. I would approach it assuming that I couldn’t count on getting permanent positions out of A or B. Given that, if I take the job with A, could I switch to another temp agency when that post has finished? If no, then abide by your agency’s wishes. If yes, then you have more flexibility to take a temporary post with company A.

    Regrettably, as someone who works in the public policy sector (in Chicago, for a NGO), I am very skeptical about the odds of getting hired into a permanent position through a temp agency. It’s cheaper to hire through a traditional process, and frankly, a lot more talent comes through a traditional process than through a temp agency, so you really don’t know your competition. We are hiring people into entry level positions that have PHDs…there are just so few jobs available in this field, in this region. And no position is assured – timelines often radically change on hiring because budget priorities shift or funding becomes unavailable. So even if there are positions being advertised today, it doesn’t mean that they’ll be available in the future.

  11. FarEast*

    I have zero emotional attachment to Co A, so I can come across as cruel, but these are the hard questions that you need to ask.
    You are a new grad/student, this is your first/tough lesson in negotiation and looking out for yourself, so…
    a) You need to find out where is the vested interest of the agency.
    b) You also need to find out the vested interest of Company A.

    Lets start with Co.A
    >>To answer your question, no the temp job is not required for Company A.
    >> They just happened to have a job that popped up now that I did well for >> them the last time around and want me to do it again for them.

    >> The assignment is for a month. Company A is aware of this, but they want >> me now because the job that they need immediately is time sensitive and >> requires a very specific knowledge of how to do it properly.

    Ah… you need more information, as it sounds like you are contradicting … is this temp job required or not? if it is “not” required… then WHY is it time sensitive?

    I would guess that your dept manager at Co. A got caught with some deadlines and poor workload management. Is the dept trying to keep you “by hook or by crook”… even if it means they are stringing you along?

    Look out for your own self… coz any dept manager would be looking out for themselves first. The dept manager thinking: If I can “string” along the temp for another 6 weeks to get this piss-ass job/project out of the way… then I will; coz it is no skin off my nose if she becomes unemployed/ burns the staffing agency/ get bad reputation.

    At the same time… I also would ask hard questions with Co. A
    Yes, you like these people, they like you too… but when it comes down to $$, you look out for your own pocket.
    Starting the process interviewing for a full-time job means NOTHING… refer back to Alison’s other posts… you do not have a job until you have a WRITTEN job offer… therefore…
    I will read as… You have NOTHING with Co.A

    >>… I saw the position posted on an industry job board. So no matter what, they are at the very least, taking me through the interview process for F/T.

    There are no guarantees that they will hire you. Co.A is bigger company… read: Co A has more office politics. Any internal candidate can overide you, so ask yourself if you can count on this?

    Next the agency:

    >> B is a tiny organization, so we also have to speculate if higher title = more responsibilities, including lower level stuff and if that equates to a larger or smaller salary.

    What is YOUR salary for Company B?… Is it the SAME as for Company A?

    >> How long is the assignment for Co B…
    >> only one month.

    Are you the FIRST person to be placed into Co B by this agency?

    You need to find out who is the Manager/Supervisor of your recruiter… inorder to answer Joey’s post (3. They’ve seen this dog and pony show before. 4. They’ll make more off of you at B than A)
    And don’t take their bullshit that it is “private/confidential”

    I will give your agency benefit of doubt on 3. because dog&pony show from clients happen a lot… there are battles / office politics between HR and departments, then string folks along too often.

    If the agency is not prepared to be transparent with you… then you will have the information to make a decision… on whether it is worth it to burn this agency bridge.

    I have had one agent/recruiter who refused to share info with me as they did not consider that I am a stakeholder… so I stopped working with them and pulled out of the signed offer, turns out their client have not been paying bills and the agency stiffed other temps too.

    I also an agent who was direct/honest with me, therefore I was willing to take a lower paying role in order that they can honour their promise to their client.

    VictoriaHR (January 27, 2014 at 3:10 pm) made a GOOD point:
    talk to the MANAGER of the staffing agency… NOT just the recruiter who got you the temp assign….

    The recruiter/agency may also be doing a dog & pony show for Co. B … looking for full time staff? again, this is only talk for now… there is nothing solid, so can you count your chickens

    Now Co. B:
    >>My hesitation with Company B is that I don’t have a lot of interest in their >>work and I only specialize in one portion of their office functions.

    Would you have the opportunity to broaden your skills? … such as learn stuff that you cannot learn in Co. A… therefore make you more “Valuable”
    As a “newbie” (I read that you are fresh grad) you need wider experiences… and pick up knowledge from the other portions of Co. B, which you may not have interest in, but good for your resume.

    It becomes a question of “exposure” … you need more different types of work to make you better rounded. You may not be interested in B’s work… but would that type of work experience give you better exposure?

  12. not a stupid question*

    I was kind of in a similar situation a little while ago, I was interning at a really great company and enjoying it; but suddenly another company (that i had interviewed with weeks prior to that one) made me an offer…after alot of thinking and hesitation I decided to take the new offer. I felt bad but at the same time, you just have to look out for yourself. I figured–if they had a better understanding of how valuable I was, they would have made me a better offer to begin with.

    Seems like company A can’t make up their mind–their loss.

  13. Gregg*

    why doesn’t the staffing company have more than one qualified applicant just tell company B she cannot come to work and that you have someone that is equally as good and you will send them. Send the applicant to A company and B company gets someone good. And you have two people working instead of one.
    NO ONE is irreplaceable.

  14. Anna Smithe*

    This happened to me once, and I really wanted to work for Company A. So, when they had another temp position and offered it, I told the Agency I wanted to work for Company A and they said “Okay”.

    Company B was still wanted me to stay, but way would I work for a company I didn’t like and had some opportunity with Company A ? Why would the Agency say I couldn’t go back to Company A when they knew the situation, and may even get a commission off my hiring, if it happened and the temp position? Beats me?

    So, my question really is here – why is the Agency not allowing you to go to Company A ? They should be able to easily fill your position at company B – and since you are “new” to company B, why are they restricting a move that seems like a “win win” for them as well?

    My question would be directed at the Agency. Remember one thing: You may be a working for this Agency, but keep in mind that you are also using them for your own purposes. You should never feel so committed to a temp agency that you are not allowed to work in your own best interests – and as it appears, they agency seems to have a problem with Company A. I say this because it doesn’t make sense that your Agency doesn’t see the opportunity for their own benefit, not to send you back to Company A.

  15. Tami Too*

    I work for a staffing agency. Typically, if an employee accepts and assignment, we do not allow them to “jump ship” with their current assignment to go to another assignment. This creates issues with the clients who are already “competing” for talent. We can’t pull someone from commitment to place them on another just because the “grass is greener.” That would create a horrible situation for the client and for the agency. Think of it like any other job, you don’t just hop from job to job on a whim. Just because it is a temporary assignment, you still must consider your reputation with the client company and with the staffing agency. It’s not a free-for-all with no consequences, just because you are working with an agency.

    However, if someone is not happy in their current assignment, and would like us to find something else, we will work with them. We simply ask for time to find a replacement, and also to find out what they didn’t like about the assignment, so we can find a better fit.

    I might view this differently if you have not started your assignment with Company B, and received an offer from Company A. Then, you should be free to choose whichever assignment you like. That is how it works in our agency, but each agency is different.

    Finally, consider that this may not be agency policy, but it may be the account manager’s preference not to move you between assignments.

    I disagree that it is unlikely to get hired permanently through a staffing agency. In fact, over 80% of our professional and clerical placements are temp to hire (try before you buy) or direct hire (meaning we screen and send them 1-3 candidates, they select, and pay a fee). Some companies don’t have the time or resources to search for, screen, and interview a slew of candidates. Not every company has an HR department, and even those that do may choose to use their resources on other tasks. Especially with the impacts of the Affordable Care Act, it is often more cost effective for companies to use a staffing agency to find qualified candidates before bringing them on board themselves.

  16. YEP...nowadays*

    Late to the jam but had to put prospective on it anyways. Temp agencies depending on thier location , your location and the type of industry will cover thier best interests, as well as thier clients will. Why should any of us be any different ?? We didn’t set the rules we just deal with what the current situation dictates. Look out for you is the number one rule. Some HR and hiring managers play god and revel in dragging thier feet. Everything from the it’s Monday I hadn’t had a chance to get back to you to it’s Friday , if only you caught me Wednesday type thinking . We all have to take it as it comes and if one company is not able to make a decision or tell you and one is about making an offer you go where you are wanted. Now if you dispise the type of work at the offering company then it’s harder but by showing that you can be torn so easily over something I’m sure they could personally make a decision over you appear weak. I get showing principle and integrity but your first principle is you are serious about your education and your career and any obstacle in the way just won’t do. As the kids say ” get it how u live” meaning take the for sure offer and take what comes or maybe the grown up world isn’t what you need. Talk don’t pay your bills and you don’t want to be the punch line of the first company’s HR rep or the temp agency’s rep that night out at the bar- ” ha I strung this wet behind the ears kid along and got them to do XYZ” you got to get your career going, odds are you’ll be moving on in a few years anyways , most people change jobs and homes an avg of every several years and sooner you get hardened to the fact you ll go forward and only look back to say , I remember when I was breaking into the industry and so and so tried to string me along. Too much competition out there and being decisive shows maturity . They’ll burn you for fun , why you worried about them?

  17. Dewbert*

    Both company A and the agency are using this employee. The employee is not beholden to either. If she wants to stay with company A and be strung along, then it is the employee’s decision. The agency can’t make an employee take any job the employee doesn’t want. If the agency uses this against the employee by not offering any other jobs to the employee, then the employee is free to go to any number of other employment agencies, of which there are plenty.

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