Sometimes oversharing personal info can hinder employment opportunities

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Q: I am having a very hard time finding a permanent position that will last.  I recently accepted a position through a temp agency, but the work load is lighter than I would have hoped.  My last day in this role is now at the end of May.  I am also struggling with a number of personal issues, which I have shared with the temp agency and they have said that this info makes me “difficult to place.”  I described my personal issues to my supervisor at this company.  I feel like they let me go for more than just lack of work. Did I handle this right?  Does this put me at a disadvantage with this temp agency from getting future jobs?  I am becoming upset over this and not knowing the truth.  Please give me your honest truthful opinion.

A: It sounds like you have had to deal with a lot of personal and professional challenges recently.  First, let me be honest.  Work ethic and first impressions count.  When you begin working at a company (either as a temporary or as a regular employee), your manager, co-workers and others are all forming an opinion about your value to the company.  This is especially true in the early weeks and months with an employer.  With many temporary assignments, the company often wants to “try before they buy.”  In short, the company wants to test you out – your skills, work ethic, work habits and professionalism.  If an employer observes problems early on, the employer (or agency) may get anxious and feel you are not suitable to work there on a long-term basis.  Look back on your work history and think about the impressions that you have made along the way.  Have you worked hard?  Have you been punctual and reliable?  Have you demonstrated initiative by taking on more than asked (when appropriate)?  Have you delighted customers/clients?  Have you developed positive working relationships with colleagues?  The agency with which you are working may be somewhat reluctant to contact you again depending upon what feedback their client gave them.  Sometimes oversharing of personal issues may not be the best course of action, especially with a new professional relationship.

Take some time to get your personal affairs stabilized if possible.  Then you will be able to fully focus on your next opportunity.  Remember those first impressions count.  Show up early.  Be reliable.  Be attentive to details. Develop good relationships with others.  If you establish a solid track record of performance, you may find yourself having a difficult time selecting which opportunity to pursue next.
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.

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