The Staffing Service as Agent
I love Ari Gold, the irascible agent in the show Entourage. He is profane, inappropriate and strangely touching. I really like the character’s fierce commitment to and determination in advancing the careers of his clients. But what I love most is that the character just cracks me up.
Lately I have been thinking of Ari Gold as a model of how we need to interact with our temporary employees and consultants. Now I don’t mean the cursing and yelling part – rather interacting with our employees from the perspective of managing their careers. Now this is not at all rocket science – yet something we need to keep in front of ourselves at all times. When you are in the business of providing human capital it is easy to forget that what you are providing your clients is NOT a product. Yet this is easily forgotten in the Staffing Industry – that is why so many people will not work for Staffing Services – they have had the experience of being treated like cattle and not listened to. This is something I have spoken of before and I think that the concept of how to bring humanity to the staffing industry is something we must always keep in front of us and we need to keep innovating in this area.
Thus Ari Gold – Ari does is not a broker of parts in a movie – he is looking to lead his clients to superstardom and that is exactly what we need to do. When we take a transactional approach to staffing (as the industry is prone to do) we see a person only when they match our current openings – when they don’t it is difficult to see them at all. When we interact with people as their Agent things look very different – it is our task to help them map out where they standing to where they want to be. When you look at people as agent you see several other opportunities to make a difference in their career – yet there are benefits that go well beyond altruistic satisfaction. When you take this approach your business grows as a direct result of working with someone to advance his career.
Take the case of our long time Staffer Tom. Tom came to us 12 years ago right out of Business School looking for a job as an analyst in Equity Research. We were really taken with him – He was a pleasant, bright guy who just wanted to find an opportunity to make a name for himself. We were able to give him that opportunity working on a project at a very prestigious international investment bank. I would like to say we gave him brilliant coaching on how to leverage that temporary assignment into a perm role – but after 12 years I really have no recollection of what we told him (if it happened today we would have given specific instruction on this issue.) Nevertheless, by the time the project was completed Tom was one of the few consultants on the team to secure a permanent offer at the bank.
If we were focused on transactions things would have ended there. In 2001 when the investment bank Tom worked for downsized he lost his job and came back to us. The only issue was that the positions we were getting at the time were too junior for Tom’s now impressive experience. If our focus was exclusively on completing transactions that would have been the end of the line for our relationship with Tom. As his Agent we were called to do more.
We looked at our client base and identified several firms to market Tom too. We spoke to a Private Equity shop we were providing Administrative professionals to and found they had a project that Tom could make a difference with. I am sure you are not surprised to hear that he was shortly after hired as a permanent employee. The Private Equity firm continued to ask us for higher level candidates and many of them were managed by Tom.
Fast forward several years later Tom has come back to us looking for a new opportunity – I can’t wait to see what happens as a result of working with him to take the next step in his career, and ours. As a result of our Agent-mentality (i.e., representing and developing ambitious people like Tom) Wall Street Services has grown. We now fill a wide array of consulting positions catering to Trade Operations Professionals, Accountants, Financial and Business Analysts, Project Managers, and other senior professionals.
Ari, here I come.