When I was younger, temp agencies, also known as staffing agencies was sort of this myth or joke that was incorporated into some of my favorite TV shows and not really a “real” thing. But little did I know that temp agencies have been around for decades and have a thriving business market.
I was quickly acquainted with multiple agencies some months after college and thrown, or rather welcomed into the world of temping. In the beginning it was a lot to process and understand because temping is fast paced and job assignments come and go on a regular basis. There are different components that go on behind the scenes in terms of agency contracts and agency- client relationships (aka keeping clients happy). As a result you can feel used by a temp agency or the complete opposite, and thrive off of the world of Freelance and temp-work.
If used effectively, temp agencies can be a great way for one to explore different career paths while gaining experience that will lead to future, more permanent career paths and goals. After working with 3 different staffing agencies over the course of 12 months I have come up with a list of 5 Pros and Cons of temping, as well as advice on how to utilize temp agencies to your own advantage.
(My experience from January 2016 -December 2016)
- Relevant job experience
As I mentioned in my previous blog, “Expectation vs. Reality after college” I was fresh out of undergrad with decent internship experience but NO actual WORK experience. As a result, I was getting rejected left and right. Temping helps build your resume and set you up to apply to jobs that require a year or more of experience.
- Ability to figure out what career path you want to take by working in different offices under different positions.
I was able to work in different work environments and experience different office cultures, learning what I like and don’t like. A close friend of mine was able to move around to many different offices and become efficient in navigating the corporate format when it comes to communication in different fields.
- Aids in identifying what your excel at (qualities you didn’t even know you had or overlooked)
I realized while temping that I was really good with people and my communication skills weren’t too bad. I honed in on that and made sure to learn and soak up information from those with more experience than myself.
- Flexibility with your time and schedule
While temping I was able to set my schedule a little more freely. To be more specific, I had jobs that were for a week, to a couple months or even day by day, I was able to have time to cater to outside interests that didn’t pay the bills, but was pretty passionate about. For example, during my time looking for permanent work I started this blog page and was making changes and updates more often, lets say than I do now.
- Indirect Knowledge that you gain
What I mean by that is, as a temp, you come across and meet SO MANY different people with different stories and more often than not, they are willing to share! You’d be surprised to hear how many people started where you started and maybe even felt lost at some points; but they figured it out and eventually you do too. Their experience and advice can influence your future choices in your career in a good way, just from a conversation, a coffee date or lunch date.
- Sent on crappy job assignments
Be prepared to be sent on a job that you legitimately hate and really wish you never agreed to.
2, No job assignment(s) at all
There are dry spells as a temp and that’s just the way it is, especially if you’re in a big city, the competition is high and there are seasons where the job market is high and when its low. This effects your stability to pay bills, your debt, provide yourself with basic needs and honestly just get by which is the stressful part being a temp.
3, Hidden Facts
Many things aren’t laid out in front of you until after you sign a contract. You realize a little too late that you aren’t as protected as you may feel when you sign on to the agency. I remember being placed and working at an advertising firm earning $15/ hour and later found out that the temp who was there before me was making $20/hr. I then further learned that the agency had the ability to keep the price at $20/hr to their client (the advertising agency) but pay the temp $5 less and keep it for themselves (hard to believe I know but true and legal). Look it up. Another fact to swallow is when you’re temping for a company that has many other temps (from the same and different staffing agencies) you realize that you have more experience than others but are getting paid less than them. You can request a raise but the likelihood of that is slim because your staffing agency could always find someone else.
- NO PAID HOLIDAYS/VACA/SICK DAYS
If you are not physically at work, working, YOU WILL NOT GET PAID. At each of the agencies I have been with, NONE offered paid holiday, vacation, or sick time. However, I know there are some agencies that do BUT I wasn’t lucky enough to work for/at one.
- NO SECURITY
You can be fired at any time and there is no liability because you are being outsourced. It’s unfortunate but one of the biggest risk with temping. You just have to move on and wait for another assignment or hopefully before that happens find a full time position elsewhere, or become a permanent employee.
Another useful article about temping: https://www.jobunlocker.com/blog/how-do-temp-agencies-work-9-tips-you-cant-afford-to-miss/