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Media Jobs Monthly Newsletter

May 12, 2010
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One of the most common complaints from job seekers that I hear as director of the job board is that employers are filling open positions with interns. We aren't lawyers, and we cannot give you legal advice, but there is no doubt that some internship ads we see clearly violate the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Let's face it: Everyone from senior executives to rogue hiring managers wants to hire "FREE" interns, but how can an employer be compliant doing this? Here are the basics to get you started. And it is not just interns that open the door to trouble. The use of temps, even through an agency, can lead to issues. But don't let that stifle your creativity! This internship might be taken to the extreme, but it could still be legal!

If you are under pressure from the higher ups to use interns or temps to cover open positions cheaply, maybe you can find a win-win by having your company take advantage of the HIRE act or other federal and state incentives.

But you might want to think twice before saving money by stiffing a third party recruiter! And here is a bit of clarity on just how third party recruiters establish claim to fees in the first place.

Clearly none of these issues would be problems if it weren't for unsophisticated hiring managers running wild. Try taming them with some tough love to ensure they hire better talent. One of the most common mistakes, especially now that demand is picking up, is to make your company seem like more than it is. Yet saying what your company is not might just be a better way to attract candidates.

After all, job seeker and intern expectations are already very high and even taking an "entire day" before responding could land you in trouble.

Bill Conneely,
Director, Job Market

Fair Labor Standards Act: Wage and Hour Fact Sheet (Department of Labor)
Follow this six-step fact sheet to determine if the position you're hiring for truly qualifies to be deemed an internship. Rule No. 3? Recession or not, the intern can not displace regular employees.

U.S. Economy adds 290,000 Jobs (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
The economy added nearly 300,000 jobs in April even as the unemployment rate inched up to 9.9 percent. More than 800,000 workers are re-entering the labor force, buoyed by optimistic job reports.

Use of Temporary Workers Also Invites Exposures to Lawsuits (; Note: Registration required)
Even though the temp agency cuts the worker's check, temps are still protected by federal employment laws, which the employer's obligated to follow. So if your company is one of the many that are hiring temps (more than two million temps are at work right now), make sure you know the legal issues.

HIRE For "Free" Money (But Ask Questions First) (
The HIRE act -- the one that lets employers pocket 6.2 percent of their new hires' salaries to stimulate hiring -- really is free money, no catch. But other federal and state incentive programs might actually net you more money than by going with the HIRE act.

Headhunting Firm Does the Unthinkable: Sues a Client That Stiffed It (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)
"It would be very rare" for a search firm to sue a client, but that's exactly what Pagoda Partners is doing. The Singapore-based recruiting firm says that Barclays Bank failed to pay Pagoda its $266,000 fee after Barclays hired an employee on Pagoda's recommendation.

Why Recruiters Should Never Say 'But For' (The Fordyce Letter)
"But for my referral, the candidate would never have been hired" opens the door for shady employers trying to get out of paying a fee to find all sorts of reasons to invalidate a recruiter's claim. Instead, use "substantial cause," as in "my referral was a substantial cause of hire."

On the Importance of Taming Hiring Managers (
"Hiring is too important to leave to chance, yet most companies do just that by letting unsophisticated hiring managers run wild in a scarce population of in-demand top performers." They don't want to deal with hiring, but you can't do it for them -- so here's how to whip your favorite hiring manager into shape.

When Employment Branding, Know Who You Aren't (The Hiring Site)
"All too often, companies try to sell themselves as something they are not effectively making promises they can't fulfill," writes Mary Lorenz at The Hiring Site. Instead, knowing what a company is not can be one of the most powerful tools for differentiating yourself from competitors, and this can be a magnet for talent.

Living With the Boss (
One lit agent takes a creative approach to internships: she created a short-term "externship" where two college students read submissions, worked with authors, and -- lived with the agent. It gives students a taste of what a career is really like -- and it doesn't end at 5 p.m.

The Worst Intern Ever (MediaJobsDaily)
An intern sent an email to a prospective internship provider, and 24 hours later decided to berate the employer for not responding quickly enough. "I find it very unprofessional that you have gone an entire day without responding to me and it makes me question the type of office you work in and if I want to be an intern at your company." Hoo boy, cue the pitchforks...

--Compiled by Rachel Kaufman, editor,

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