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Whether you’re between jobs, looking for a better job, or just starting out in this wild, wacky adventure we call work, staffing firms can be an excellent tool to have at your disposal. Since our business model demands that we actually put people to work in order to keep our doors open, if we see even a little effort and promise on your end we’ll often go the extra mile on ours to land you a job.

We don’t think we’re asking for much – just a polite, friendly demeanor, neat appearance, decent work history, reachable references, a can-do spirit, and maybe a nice handshake and a look in the eye to top it all off (OK, we’ll even make the handshake and eye contact optional!). When you step through our doors, we WANT to put you to work and, once employed, we want to keep working you until you land a full-time gig, hopefully at one of our clients. In the business world, that’s what I call a win-win.

That is, as long as you manage to stay off of our DNA list.

What sort of nefarious list is this, you ask?

Well, in the staffing world, DNA doesn’t have anything to do with your genes (calm down, Legal Beagle, we know the Genetic Information NonDiscrimination Act prohibits us from asking those questions!). Rather, DNA stands for ‘do not assign.’ Other staffing companies might use different abbreviations and terminologies, but they all have some sort of ‘blacklist’ in the form of a system designation to mark those to whom the privilege of job offers will no longer be extended. Once your name makes it there, you might as well ditch your phone and change your address to some kulak in Siberia, because as far as we’re concerned you’re banished and we aren’t calling you again, ever.

So, how do you avoid landing on this awful list? I’m glad you asked! How about a list of five surefire ways to land ON the DNA list? Avoid doing these, and your chances of avoiding ‘the list’ are pretty good.

1.) Violence – You’d think this should go without saying, but in today’s climate one can never be too cautious. That’s why not only the actual act of violence (or harassment, or intimidation, or bullying, or anything that could possibly be related to those things!), but even the vaguest, most remote threat of violence of any sort will not only get you released from your assignment, but will get you permanently and irrevocably DNA’d. It’s just not worth the risk.

2.) No call, no show – If you’re going to take the time to register, interview, drug test, watch orientation videos, and fill out the seemingly endless reams of paperwork required to work with us, one would think that actually physically showing up for the job you accepted on day one would be just a formality, right? Sadly, this isn’t always the case. When we tell our client you’re going to be there, and you aren’t there… unless you’ve called us with a really good reason, consider yourself DNA’d.

3.) ‘Walk off’ a job – No matter how well we try to explain the job to you, nothing can quite equal actually DOING the job. Maybe packing corn chips in cardboard boxes all day sounded more glamorous than it actually turned out to be. Maybe you thought we said ‘tasting pies’ when we actually said ‘tool & die.’ I don’t know, but I do know that if you walk off a job before your shift is complete we will never, ever place you again.

4.) Violate a safety rule – This was an important piece of my article entitled, ‘How to get fired on your first day as a temp.’ For the same reasons listed there, violating a safety rule will also land you on our DNA list, from which no further placements will ever, ever ensue.

5.) Lie to us – Whether it’s fudging your resume, failing to disclose a criminal past, or using your THIRD dead grandmother as an excuse for calling out of work, we have a really hard time placing people who we can’t trust. Can you blame us?

There are certainly more, but these are probably the worst offenders. No big deal, you might think. List or no list, you’ll just land a job on your own. Maybe so, but keep in mind that when you are on a staffing company’s DNA list you’ve often barred yourself not just from that staffing company, but from the dozens of clients that staffing company does business with. And although these days sharing references, especially bad ones, is taboo among the HR world, you’re deceiving yourself if you don’t think people who know and network with each other will talk ‘off the record.’ Trust me, other than the ‘Busted’ section of the newspaper or maybe the ‘bad check’ wall at Shoney’s, the DNA list of any staffing company is the worst place your name can appear.



This post also appeared in Staffing Talk

Written by Scott Morefield

Scott started with AtWork as a Staffing Manager in 1999, eventually taking over the Bristol, TN office as Branch Manager in 2005. After a two year stint as both Branch Manager and social media manager, he assumed the role of Director of Marketing in October of 2014. By night, Scott is a news and opinion columnist for BizPac Review. His work has also been featured on the Drudge Report, Fox Nation, Breitbart, TheBlaze, WND, Staffing Talk, among others. Scott holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources and an MBA from East Tennessee State University. He and his wife, Kim, live in Bristol, Tennessee with their four children.

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