Whether youre 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 well often go the extra mile on ours to land you a job.

We dont think were 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, well 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, thats 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 doesnt have anything to do with your genes (calm down, Legal Beagle, we know the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination 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 were concerned youre banished and we arent calling you again, ever.

So, how do you avoid landing on this awful list? Im 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  Youd think this should go without saying, but in todays climate one can never be too cautious. Thats 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 DNAd. Its just not worth the risk.

2.) No call, no show  If youre 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 isnt always the case. When we tell our client youre going to be there, and you arent there unless youve called us with a really good reason, consider yourself DNAd.

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 dont 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 its 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 cant 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, youll just land a job on your own. Maybe so, but keep in mind that when you are on a staffing companys DNA list youve 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, youre deceiving yourself if you dont 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 Shoneys, the DNA list of any staffing company is the worst place your name can appear.