Anyone here ever done temp work?

I find myself unemployed again and have decided that it might be best to just start temping. I figure I can make enough doing that while still having time to do my photography work on the side. Anyone here have experience with temp agencies? I’ve got a list of six so far in Chicago that I’ll start sending my resume off to tomorrow. Should I apply to just a couple, or should I just go for the shotgun approach and do as many as possible? How does the whole process work? How often do jobs usually last? A day? A week? A month?

Yeah, for two years (1998-2000); also, I’m currently self-employed and working through agencies in what could be considered “long term temping”, as my contracts are always for a specific time limit.

Apply to all of them. They will not expect loyalty (if any agents do, they should be able to provide you with a steady stream of work - they’re not? Up theirs) and the further you spread your net, the more likely you’re to catch something. After all, if you were looking for permanent jobs you wouldn’t send one or two resumes and then just wait, would you?

My temp jobs lasted from 3 days to 11.5 weeks (I’m still the record holder at this last position; the person who lasted least in it left after half a day).

I’ve been doing temp jobs for three years (when will the recession end LOL)

As Nava said, apply to as many as possible. Also try to apply to the office location of where you want to be placed. By this I mean I applied to Accountemps in the downtown office of Chicago and got little work. But when I reapplied to the NW Suburb office, I got a lot more work.

So you should not only apply to a company but a particular offices.

Temp jobs can be anywhere from a day to years. The nice thing is you can quit when you get fed up, but that applies on the flip side too. With so many people temping you can get shown the door quick too, 'cause companies can replace you like that.

Also be prepared to do all the awful job no one else wants to do. And keep in mind you work for the temp agency. I once had an awful situation where the temp agency told me to wear a white shirt, tie and slacks. I did, the owner told me not to dress so formally and I could lose the tie and where a polo shirt if I wanted.

So I did, and someone at the company told the temp agency and they had a fit, and told me I was to wear what THEY said, not the owner. So I got stuck in the middle of that one and I just left the assignment.

I got my current permanent job through temping.

I started off with just one agency as an ‘on call’ temp and the first few jobs were very low level, e.g. filing and simple typing. I expected that, I mean they’re not going to send you to their top client doing advanced work when they don’t know you very well. Some jobs were for just one day, others were for a few weeks at a time.

I worked my way up to bigger assignments and eventually got a six month assignment at the organisation where I am now employed.

Years ago.

The others piece of advice is to treat it like a job - even when you aren’t working. Get up, get dressed, be ready. Call into the agency fifteen minutes after they open letting them know you are ready. Call again around 8:30 or so.

I worked pretty consistently, but a lot of my jobs started because I called three minutes after the phone call came in that said “can you get a temp for today, Patricia’s baby came early.”

I usually apply to ten or so temporary agencies at one time. They’ll ask you if you’ve applied to any other ones. Tell them no. It’s really none of their business anyway.

Call them once a week. Any more and you are the person who nags them. Any less and they will forget about you. It helps to say things like, “This is my weekly call!” They will remember you.

Jobs are usually gone in about an eyeblink, so if they call you with a job offer, snap it up. You can always tell them later that you can’t fill it, if you find another job. They’ll get a replacement for you without breaking a sweat.

My current job is nine months (maternity contract) although my last longer term job they wanted to hire me permanently, but I was moving. It’s a good way to get into a job without having to beat thousands of other people. Plus, you get to see the inside of companies and figure out if you really want to work there.

If they call you with a day’s assignment, even if you don’t want to bother, take it. The next time they call you it will usually be for a longer assignment. Temporary agencies like to make you prove that you’re trustworthy.

However, once in a while an assignment that you think should be lasting many months gets summarily withdrawn - you’re told not to come back the next day. So, no matter how comfy and nice a position looks, you need to keep looking for permanent work throughout.

I’ve temped, on and off, for four years in various places. It’s a stopgap measure and should not be treated as anything more than that - you’re disposable for them, so treat them as disposable as well.

This is very good advice. I work for an agency and we often have to fill orders for associates with very short notice. The candidates that are ready to work get the placement and my eternal gratitude. :slight_smile:

I applied to a lot of temp agencies and didn’t get anywhere until I started asking, “Are there any jobs available right now?” immediately after the ‘Great, you passed the tests, we’ll call you’ stage.

Once, there was, but they weren’t sure I’d want it (even though I had emphasized my flexibility and willingness to work). I convinced them otherwise, then went ahead and set it up right on the spot. It was one of those jobs that they had problems staffing, a shitty job in a call center, but it all worked out in the end. That job turned into a permanent job, then a promotion, then off to bigger and better things elsewhere.

I’m currently temping. The job I’m doing now was supposed to be for two weeks. That was in December and I’m still there. It works well for me because they know I don’t want to go permanent (I just finished my master’s degree and am looking for a Real Job) and I don’t have to lie about my career ambitions.

I signed up with a couple different agencies and called them both regularly to let them know that I was able to work. It took about three weeks before I got my current gig.

I’ve temped before, too, when I was new to an area and looking for a permanent job, and it was the same - you just have to be persistent and make sure the temp agency people have you at the front of their minds.

Not only have I temped, I spent a summer temping at the temp office’s front desk while they searched for a replacement receptionist. So I got to see both sides of the equation.

I don’t know that we had anyone call daily, but it wouldn’t have been annoying if we did. When someone called, we made a note about the call in their database, and IIRC, the daily list of available temps was sorted according to the most recent call-in, so calling frequently would be good.

My best-paid and cushiest temp jobs were with UNC-CH’s in-house temp agency. If there’s a university that has an in-house agency, I’d definitely recommend applying with them.

My experience was that people were almost pathetically grateful to have a temp come in who had a work ethic, knew how to find his way around the office, and didn’t smell funny. I never understood their gratitude until I worked the other side of the equation and saw how many lazy/lying/incompetent/stinky people apply for work through temp agencies.

Heh - I’ve been temping for about 15 years now, and I’m SuperTemp - I show up on time, I keep coming back as long as I’m supposed to, and I can be left alone to do what I’m supposed to do. :smiley:

I’m currently on assignment as well; it was supposed to be about a month, and this is seven months later. They want me to come on permanently, but I don’t want to work at this company (the department I’m in sucks, with a crappy supervisor). I don’t actually want any permanent job; I don’t do well in captivity. Temping is a great way to find a permanent job, though - once they see what you can do and what you’re like (work-wise and also personality-wise), not only do companies hire you but they might even create a position for you. Temp jobs can last just about any length of time; in Alberta I think the limit is supposed to be two years, but if you’re happy and the company’s happy, just keep going until they tell you to stop.

Lots of good advice in the thread; the only thing I’d adjust is to apply at one temp agency at a time - I usually apply at one per week when things are slow. I would also like to highlight and underline that you are indeed a disposable employee - you owe your temp agency no loyalty, and you will get none from them. If a better job or assignment comes up, do what’s right for you and don’t let them threaten you or bully you (and oh yes, they might try).

It takes nepotism, networking, an act of God… or a temp agency… to get into my company. Resumes get lost here. If they don’t know to look for you in their stupid system, they don’t find you. But if they see you and they like you, they hire you. It couldn’t have been a better experience. I was hired within 2 months.

Within a couple of days of my interview/test/whatever with Manpower Temp Agency, I got the call.

I’d had slower results from a local agency, but I trusted that they were trying. They were just too small to have landed the big accounts that the national agency did. I connected with them a couple of times a week. I wanted to keep my name in the mix, but not drive them nuts. They actually offered me something pretty nice about a day after I’d accepted the gig through Manpower.

I think it would be smart to go with a couple of agencies – maybe a local and one or two national ones. Call in weekly if daily seems uncomfortable.

Best of luck.

I’ve worked in jobs where our local crews were frequently temps, so here’s a perspective: the company that hired the temp workers gets feedback. If we had a particularly good or bad temp worker, we made damn sure that their supervisors heard about it. Many temp workers are downright lazy, and cannot be trusted to work when no one’s actually looking at them. It’s easy to be better than these people. Others will work their tails off*, and it’s hard to shine next to these people, so you’ve got to be your best to get noticed.

*Middle-aged single mothers in the inner city, mostly. Hot damn, but they worked hard. I was always happy when that’s who our crew was.