Skeptic No Longer: The Who, What and Why of Temp Agencies

I’ve just arrived home after a seven month working holiday in Whistler, B.C. I’m not sure what type of job commitment I want to make yet.  In addition to my regular job search, I decided I would visit a few temp agencies and get a feel for what they might offer me.

I’m a temp agency skeptic looking to find out if staffing agencies really do provide positive temporary work experience.

After submitting my resume to about 4 agencies, I received a call from two agencies to set up a meeting. I called the agencies on the day I arrived home; both wanted to see me the next day. This is too easy, I thought. I know that agency recruiters are required to build their database of potential employees and figured my meeting wouldn’t lead anywhere.

24 hours later I had landed three weeks of office work, starting today, in the city.

Here’s the info on temp agencies for recent grads making the school-to-work transition.

Temp agencies (or personnel services/staffing agencies/employment companies) are companies that work to fill temporary openings (sometimes permanent positions, but I’ll stick mostly to temp work for this post) in a business. The National Association of Personnel Services says the average temp work position is three to five months.

According to the National Association of Personnel Services, 90% of companies use temporary staffing services.  There are over 30,000 staffing agencies making a total profit of over $75 billion dollars in the United States.

Who to choose

With so many temp agency options, it easily becomes overwhelming deciding who to register with. In my case, I chose the agency that was close to public transit and right downtown. I was looking for general office work, which is mostly what the agency dealt with.

Niche agencies do exist which can be an awesome way to find good paying work quickly. For example, if you are an IT whiz or a law student, you can probably find a staffing agency who specializes in IT help or law office assistance. Having a specific skill set will definitely boost your chances of finding a well paying temp position.

Look for an agency with a professional affiliation in the area you want to find work. An agency in the downtown core is a likely to be a professional and legit agency that can provide work in a similar location.

I was surprised to feel genuinely cared for interested in during my temp agency interview. From my personal experience, I’d recommend going to a few agencies and feeling out work possibilities and the “Staffing Consultant” assigned to you. As I mentioned above, agents do need to build their database and you will probably be able to tell if a Staffing Consultant isn’t taking your application seriously.

How does it work

You become an employee of the agency, not the company you are working at. The business pays the agency to recruit and assign a good worker for them. The business will pay the agency, which will then pay you. You do not need to pay any upfront fees (never pay any fees!). Most agencies will tell you how much you will be making, so you don’t need to consider an agency fee at all.

What’s in it for you

Keeping temp work while you are conducting an epic post-grad job search can help keep you busy and sane. You can let your Staffing Consultant know what kind of permanent work you are looking for. They might be able to place you in a filing or reception position at a business you would like to permanently work for. Every position offers great networking opportunities.

Whether or not your Staffing Consultant places people in permanent positions, they are in the business of recruiting and likely know many people in HR departments of various businesses. Once you start to build a business relationship, they can be a great network contact and reference. Check out this great Yellow Brick Road post for more info on the potential long-term career perks of temping.

I start my first temp position on Monday morning and hope to report back with only positive experiences and more advice for grads looking to bridge the school-to-work gap.

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