Looking for a job, is it worth it go to temp agencies?

They have helped me before, but always finding temporary work. I need a permanent job or it’s a no-go, as I am making a major career change in my life. IME they aren’t entirely understanding of employee’s needs. Is it worth it trying Office Team or some such?

IME, IT staffing agencies are pretty sharp, and can really help in terms of marketing and figuring out which opportunities are worth pursuing and which ones are out of your league or not “really” hiring. The agency gets paid if and only if you get a job, and they get that by either charging the employer or skimming off the top of your pay. If they don’t get you a job, they get nothing. 5% of nothing is still nothing. That’s a pretty powerful incentive for them to bust their ass for you.

What’s the downside? Many of the opportunities they find aren’t at the best companies, and many of the jobs only last six months or so and then you’re on unemployment again. But I guess it beats living on the street.

I’ve gotten a number of jobs through “Consulting Firms” (aka temp agencies). Did a rent-to-hire gig back in the 90’s, another contract where I convinced them to hire me, had some long term contracts that I was fine with leaving when they were done, and one where I wasn’t.

Got my current job as well by being here as a contractor and convincing them to hire me on.

I always turned down anything shorter that six months though, and preferred 1+ year and open ended contracts. The shorter contracts carried too much risk. If the economy slows*, you risk being ‘between contracts’ a couple of times a year.

  • historically, I mean. We all know it sucks right now.
    But there are a fair few number of people on this board who make their daily living through temp agencies. I’m sure they’ll be along momentarily.

Does this ‘major career change’ involve any sort of schooling - university, community college, tech school? If so, I would look first to whatever sort of career/job placement resources they have and use that.

Failing that, signing up with temp agencies that specialize in whatever you have in mind can’t hurt as long as they know what you want is a temp-to-hire position.

For the companies themselves, the 'net has plenty of info on specific companies and what their work environment is like, though getting in through a temp agency is a great way to experience an environment for yourself to see if it’s a good fit or not.

Additionally, if there are any companies in your area you would like to work for that hire people with your skills, it doesn’t hurt to troll their job boards to see what they’ve got.

A temp agency can be of help in the OP’s situation, but not always.

What you want is an agency that distinguishes between temp and temp-to-hire. It’s the latter you want.

I’ve gotten three permanent jobs via temp agency over the years. I’ve also gotten a lot of very temporary temp jobs. You’ll have to make it clear what your goals are when you go to the agency, and do a little research on the agency to make sure they even do what you need.

I got my last job through a temp agency. I wanted a temp-to-hire, but I took a quick two week job to earn some extra cash for the holidays. I spread my resume widely and ended up with a contract position and eventually a permanent one.

I was looking for a job and the agency asked me if I wanted Temp to Perm. I said I’d just done that. My first wife was a nurse and did temps all day and my second worked at a hair salon and did perms all day.

I got my current job through a temp agency. I was supposed to be there a week. That was in mid-2002.

I have no idea what things are like now. I do remember that during a period of my life that I only wanted short-term or part-time temp jobs, it seemed that every agency I worked with only had temp to hire. I remember telling one agency that my ideal job would be part-time, flexible hours. The agent said, oh, we never have anything like that. One week later they called me for a job with my exact skills that was part-time, and flexible hours could be negotiated. That gig lasted nearly a year.

Many companies use temp agencies as a trial period before hiring. Specify what you want from the agency.

I was the opposite - I asked for only temporary positions (a month MAX, preferably two weeks) because I knew it wasn’t going to be in my field. I also specified no data entry. Every single job I took offered me permanent employment, it got to the point that it was nearly ridiculous.

Yes, I’ve had great career moves due to temp agencies. If you’re truly valuable, and do the job as if you own stock in the company, even if they had no plans to go perm they will find a place for you. That happened to me in my last 3 jobs, the 3 I’ve worked for since the early 90’s.

There’s no harm in getting their help. You don’t have to accept positions. And you can search on your own in the meantime.

And be open to completely diff positions you never thought of. I’ve switched careers because of temp assignments and it makes you more valuable learning several different parts of business.

I work for a Fortune 50 corporation and we hire our non-managerial staff via temp agencies.

My advice is to target a few corporations and find out if they use temps to hire and what temp agencies they use. They usually only use one or two, so you really need to do your due diligence or you’ll never connect with the right company.

Oddly enough, I don’t get many calls from temp agencies I’ve applied to. I get calls from recruiters who search sites like Monster, CareerBuilder and LinkedIn for keywords that match my skill set. Manpower used to be a great resource, but all it is nowadays is a search engine.

The advantage to working temp jobs: At least you have a job, and if you do good enough, the company will be interested in keeping you. Your staffing rep becomes your advocate, because they make their money off you.

The disadvantage to working temp jobs: When the economy takes a dive, or the upper management makes bad decisions and have to recoup their losses, the contractors are the first to be let go. It doesn’t matter how much your bosses like you. HR people are heartless golems. You can be let go in the drop of a hat.

But sometimes you have no choice.

[quote=“Anaamika, post:1, topic:692810”]

…I am making a major career change in my life… QUOTE]

It would help to know, at least generally, what change you are making. Temp agencies are very good in some fields, no so much in others.


I once was part of a group temping in a warehouse, I wasn’t compatible with the environment but those who were ended up as permanent employees.

That’s why I only ever took shorter-term jobs. First of all, there are a lot more of those. so you work regularly. If you hate the place, you only need to stay for two weeks, and they can’t take advantage by having you hang around as a temp.

[quote=“Doctor_Jackson, post:14, topic:692810”]

In August I will graduate with a bachelor’s in Information Systems. I am looking everywhere for a job, already. I just wanted to know if it was worth it to try temp agencies. It doesn’t really seem like it is. I can’t, at almost 40, do temp jobs; I need a permanent job, especially since I have a full-time 40 hour job right now and don’t want to leave it for a temporary job.

I didn’t know if they would call me only for full-time jobs. I actually got this job through a temp agency, but that was when I didn’t have a job at all, so it was worth it to do temp work.

Anaamika, I’m currently working in IT, and I got my current job through a temp agency - Robert Half, to be specific. I strongly encourage you to check them out if they’re in your area. They’ve got benefits available after you rack up a certain number of hours. I found the reps to be solicitous, helpful, and very understanding of my needs. They also have a training center where you can take free classes, though I was hired on so quickly, I didn’t get to make much use of it.

Annamika, you need solid experience on your resume. A series of 3 month gigs is going to look a lot better than a year of unemployment. Plus you’ll get experience, get your name out there, show people what you can do, etc.

Temp/Contractor doesn’t always need to be temp-to-hire either. As I said above, I got a job in the late 80’s and again last year by convincing both parties (after about a year on the job) that I was skilled, punctual and professional. Neither contract allowed such things. Doesn’t matter when they want you. The one in the 80’s they paid off my consulting firm (like 8% of my offered annual salary!), my current job they pretty much told the consulting firm “Looks like a nice arrangement you got with us. Shame if anything happened to it while we hired Chimera…”

Also, most non-competes are only 6 months. You can start sidling up to former clients after that making it known you’re available. If they really liked you, they might find something.

I don’t see what you’d have to lose by trying it. You can always say no if they’re not offering you what you want, and there’s a good chance it may lead to something great.