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has anyone dealt with a staffing/placement agency?
Thread poster: Susana Galilea
Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:28
English to Spanish
+ ...
Apr 18, 2004

Dear all,

I am wondering if any of you has ever dealt with a staffing/placement agency, and what their experience was. I have been contacted by a staffing agent who is interested in interviewing me, but from the initial phone conversation I got the impression I'd better find out a little more before my interview.

I am used to dealing with direct clients or translation agencies who find me through my website or word of mouth. I have never dealt with any other intermediary, and could use some advice as to how staffing agencies work in terms of projects and rates/payment.

I always assumed staffing agencies did not deal with freelancers, only full- and part-time placement, and I would welcome any feedback to that respect. I think I am a little concerned about letting someone else decide what projects I may be a good fit for...I must admit I am feeling put off by this particular agent's slick, gung-ho manner, although I suppose that comes with the territory...I could use a reality check on this one.

Thanks for any and all contributions

Susana Galilea
Accredited Translator EUTI
sgalilea@ispwest.com
www.accentonspanish.com


[Edited at 2004-04-19 03:23]


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Kirsty Mason  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:28
German to English
Agency experience Apr 18, 2004

Hi Suzanna,

Speaking from a UK point of view, I have recently completed a project for a linguistic employment agency in-house in a company, and the experience was largely positive. Both agency and end customer were very flexible in terms of the hours I worked on the project and understood that I was primarily a freelancer.

The pay was not as good as if I had gone to the firm directly, but I knew that from the outset (my primary motivation was to get out of my home office for a bit and actually meet some people

You're possibly quite right to be on your guard, but I don't think there's any harm in finding out the details and if you are not happy with the conditions, negotiate.
If you are still not happy with the conditions, say no. They can't force you into any job that you don't want to do, and don't commit to anything you are unsure of.

Financially, I have no idea of the US tax situation but it can get a bit complicated if you are both employed and self-employed at the same time, as I was. May be best to check whether it is worth your while.

Otherwise, I certainly hope to get some more work in the future from the same agency and if I turn down jobs I don't want or haven't the time for, I'd hope if they really want me they will still offer me more in the future..

HTH, good luck


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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:28
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I am so glad you brought that up :) Apr 18, 2004

Kirsty Lees wrote:
(my primary motivation was to get out of my home office for a bit and actually meet some people


Actually, this is my main concern...right now I am happy as a clam working from home, and the thought of working on site does not appeal the least bit to me. I am wondering how realistic it would be to insist on only being contacted for projects I can handle from home...


Financially, I have no idea of the US tax situation but it can get a bit complicated if you are both employed and self-employed at the same time, as I was. May be best to check whether it is worth your while.


I had not even considered this...does that mean one has employee status with the agency? Indeed combining employment and freelancing gets complicated tax-wise, and in my case I highly doubt it would be worth my while.

More to consider than I had even contemplated...

Thanks much

S.G.


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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 07:28
German to English
Jobs frequently at law firms Apr 18, 2004

In my limited experience with agencies of this type, many of the jobs appear to be at law firms. Discoveries, for example, often involve hundreds, even thousands of documents. Attorneys develop certain criteria for what they want translated: certain names, certain dates, product / process names. In many cases you'll be asked to produce a sentence or two summary of a document (Prof. X leaves umbrella at office at another university, sends e-mail to colleague asking for its return when he comes to visit [this is from a true case!]). Based on that you may be asked to provide more extensive summaries or even translations of documents. This is usually paid at an hourly rate.

If you don't have to travel far to do this kind of work, it's an interesting change of pace. The jobs only last a week or two (longer if there are fewer translators on the job), so they're generally not a long-term commitment.
Kevin


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:58
English to Tamil
+ ...
Retain your status as freelancer Apr 19, 2004

And it cannot be an employer-employee relationship with all the legal implications. If the agency says you are its employee and hence have some commitments to respect, ask them whether they pay you non-salary benefits as well such as the thirteenth month salary in case of French employers.
Whether it is the agency or the end client himself, who calls you for work in an office, insist on hourly payment.
At present I am negotiating such an assignment. I demanded hourly rate, 3 days a week work for a fixed period of at least 6 months, payment against monthly invoice within the first 7 working days of the next month and so on. The client has to pay the taxi fare both sides for each visit, provides boarding for the working hours, in addition to the hourly rate. As such I am getting all these payments for casual works carried out at the client's premises but without a contract extending over a period of a few months as described above.
I like to do work under these conditions, in order to meet new kinds of people.
Yet I remain a freelance translator. Not an employee thank you.
Regards,
N.Raghavan


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Fernando Toledo  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:28
German to Spanish
I do not think this is realistic Apr 19, 2004

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:


I demanded hourly rate, 3 days a week work for a fixed period of at least 6 months, ...The client has to pay the taxi fare both sides for each visit, provides boarding for the working hours, in addition to the hourly rate.
N.Raghavan

6 Month Taxi! it is not cheaper to buy a car? this is antiproductive and nobody win, well the Taxi driver
I do not think this is realistic, we are craftsmen not managers.

Regards

Toledo


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:28
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Employment agencies in the U.S. Apr 19, 2004

Hello Susana. It was nice meeting you at the powwow in Barcelona a couple months back.

When I was on the interview circuit in the U.S. I went to dozens upon dozens of employment agencies and they invariably are "slick" and "gung-ho". I never suspected any of being this way to cheat me (monetarily). I did end up working for a few and did not get cheated. In the U.S. the "cheating" usually comes in the form of the job turning out to be different than what they told you - but not so much in the amount of pay.

I think it is a cultural thing. These headhunters are paid on commission so they are dying to convince you to accept a job. They end up acting like those icky waitresses that are all too common in the U.S. ("Oh, hello! My name is Jenny! I will be your waitress for tonight! Oh, that's a nice shirt you have on! I just can't wait to give you your food!" - Read, "you had better give me a good tip or I'll not be so fake-nice any more.")

As far as taxes go in the U.S., the rule of thumb is do not base employment decisions on how much tax you will be paying. If you get taxed more it means you are making more. In any case, I do not pretend to be an expert. This advice is based on what I have heard experts say, and also my personal experience
since I was indeed a sole proprietor in the U.S.

I hope this helps.

Edward


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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:28
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
never meant to imply that... Apr 19, 2004

Edward Potter wrote:
I never suspected any of being this way to cheat me (monetarily).


Nice meeting you too, valenciano

I am not sure what about my message gave you the impression this was a concern, I actually have no fear of that as this is a reputable staffing agency. But your analogy with a tip-hungry waitress is spot on, and I remain a bit hesitant about dealing with an intermediary who is not specifically related to the translation industry. Still, I have no doubt it won't hurt to pass my resume around.

As for taxes, sure you get taxed more when you make more...but from past experience I seem to remember you end up paying certain items twice if you are claiming both 1099 and W-2 income. Better check with my accountant...

Oh, and taxi rides sound just fine to me...rather, make that a limo

Cheers,
S.G.


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:58
English to Tamil
+ ...
What is so unrealistic about it? Apr 19, 2004

Let me elaborate a little. My hourly rate is such that in just a few days say 5 or 6, I clear an amount, which is a respectable monthly salary in the middle management cadre. 3 days a week means 13 days a month and the monthly bill equals that of a very senior manager. Here in India a man of that rank is driven in a company car. I am reasonable. I take taxi both ways and get the fare reimbursed. When I go to a client's place, I am loaded with my dictionaries in my briefcase. I cannot be expected to lug them around in a public transport. Again it is a question of time.

As for buying a car, well, what for? I am having more than 1000 cars at my disposal in the form of call taxis. And the client pays. Even if I were to drive my own car, I would charge on the basis of the kilometers travelled for the work.

Regards,
N.Raghavan
Toledo wrote:
6 Month Taxi! it is not cheaper to buy a car? this is antiproductive and nobody win, well the Taxi driver
I do not think this is realistic, we are craftsmen not managers.
Regards
Toledo


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lien
Netherlands
Local time: 13:28
English to French
+ ...
The specialist Apr 19, 2004

Toledo wrote:

I do not think this is realistic, we are craftsmen not managers.



Get your head up from you screen. Are you not the manager of your one man business ? It is a business negotiation, you are a "specialist", someone they let come to fix a job, they are the client, not an employer, it is to you to fix the conditions, and if you ask for a taxi to get there and they agree, it's all in the bargain.


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:58
English to Tamil
+ ...
And kindly have some respect for your profession, Toledo Apr 21, 2004

In another posting you went on to express support to an agency that was trying to wriggle out of its own PO. I am referring to the thread http://www.proz.com/topic/16955 where your comment was "You work 10 hours and wanna have 710 USD?...in Pakistan?" According to you the lady from Pakistan deserved only 100 dollars and not 710 dollars.
Another quote from you in the same thread: "I am sorry, sub- or super- continent, if a translator get so much money for a prooreading (I am speaking of 71 USD per hour)something is wrong in system, with all my respect for India or Pakistan, or it is a mistake from the agency. I was only surprise, sorry if I offensed you" (as quoted). Instead you should have been happy that a fellow translator could get that sort of money.

But the lady went on to handle the problem admirably and made the agency pay 350 dollars. If she had followed your reasoning, she would have been 250 dollars poorer. Of course she was fully justified to get the entire 710 dollars, but her handling of the situation helped the client save his face and this too is important.

The trouble with your position was that it was so defeatist and lacking in regard for your own profession. Do wake up sir. If you are going to talk with your client with the above attitude, you will not see the color of your money in a hurry.

In the present thread you are again writing:"6 Month Taxi! it is not cheaper to buy a car? this is antiproductive and nobody win, well the Taxi driver. I do not think this is realistic, we are craftsmen not managers."

But sir, we are not only managers but sole proprietors as well. In the course of a discussion with a prospective client of mine, I made precisely this point. The interlocutor was a Deputy Director of a big firm. I told him that he was answerable to his superiors in his hierarchy and cannot take decisions without getting clearance from his Finance Director, whereas I was a master of my own destiny and had a decision making power very much superior to his. And contrary to what you might have thought I went on to land the job and am still getting work from that client.

Nothing personal against you Toledo but am staunchly against any attitude of self deprecation and lack of self confidence. These two traits are deadly. I am happy to see from your profile that your rates are quite good. I only hope that you stand by them firmly.

Regards,
N.Raghavan



lien wrote: Get your head up from you screen. Are you not the manager of your one man business ? It is a business negotiation, you are a "specialist", someone they let come to fix a job, they are the client, not an employer, it is to you to fix the conditions, and if you ask for a taxi to get there and they agree, it's all in the bargain.


[Edited at 2004-04-21 07:32]


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:28
English to German
+ ...
Respect! Apr 21, 2004

Narasimhan, I am impressed.

Cheers, Ralf


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:28
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Two cents Apr 21, 2004

Narasihman,

I have read several of your posts and I must say you have a good professional attitude. It is great to see someone who helps our profession with the way you conduct your business.

Edward


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