Wednesday, June 27, 2012

An agent works for you, not the other way around

Employer: Someone who hires people to do a job.

Employee: Someone who gets paid to do a job.

Got that? It's a basic concept many people in this business fail to grasp. Let me make it even clearer. If an agent gets a job for you, he gets paid. Hence, he is the employee. He works for you, the employer.

But what I continue to hear is that news people are often letting the roles get reversed, letting agents dictate what jobs they take.

Here's a typical scenario. Reporter gets an agent. Agent asks what the reporter is looking for. Reporter says, "I'm from Florida. I hate the cold and the Midwest bores the hell out of me. And I never want to shoot my own video again."

A few weeks later the agent calls. "I have a job offer for you. One man band in Indianapolis."

But before the reporter tells the agent that isn't what he wants, the agent follows up with, "You really need to take this job. It's a great career move."

And the reporter takes the job even though he'll freeze his tail off and be bored out of his mind. Why? Because he assumes the agent is smart and knows what's best.

Yeah, what's best for the agent. Because, and don't ever forget this, if the agent doesn't find you a job, he doesn't get a commission.

Agents push people into jobs they really don't want all the time. This is especially true if the agent has been shopping a client for awhile. The agent gets frustrated, worries that he's spent a lot of time and postage, and wants a commission. Any commission. So the agent gets pushy, starts arguing with the client, doing whatever it takes to make the client take the job.

And get a commission.

Look, there are great agents out there along with the bad ones. But a great agent listens to what you want and tries to get it for you. You must be very specific when dealing with an agent. Tell the agent what you want and what you don't want.

As for thinking agents know more about the business than you do, don't let the title fool you. Anyone can hang out a shingle and call himself an agent. I can do it. You can do it. Even people with no experience in the industry can do it. There's no regulatory agency, like the NFL has for agents. And while many agents do have a ton of experience in the business, some have no clue and are simply in it for the commission.

Bottom line, the agent is your employee. You're paying him for a service, and when you pay someone to do something, you want it done in a certain way.

Only you know what's best for you. Just make sure any agent you deal with knows it as well.


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