If you’re a job-seeker in America you know how hard it is to find work, especially if you’ve just entered the workforce and have little or no work experience. After completing my first year of college I needed to find a job during the summer to take care of some leftover bills. I applied at countless retail stores and fast-food places to no avail. Just as I was beginning to give up hope, I saw an ad in the classifieds section of a local paper for a company called Cape Fear Staffing, a temporary work agency. Thinking this place might have potential, I went to the address listed to find out more information. The very next day I had a job. Interested yet? Keep reading.
What is a temporary work agency and how do they work?
A temporary work agency basically acts as a middleman between employers and potential employees. Often times a company will find themselves in need of employees in a hurry due to various factors such as having extra orders to fill, losing workers, or being especially busy during certain holidays and events. This is where temporary work agencies come in. The employer requests temporary workers from the temp agency and submits to them a brief description of the duties required of the workers, qualifications/equipment/experience required for the job, as well as the rate of pay. The temp agency will then contact available employees who meet the specifications and offer them the assignment. The potential employee may either accept the assignment or decline it and wait for something else to come along. If the employee accepts the job, most temporary work agencies have time cards for the employee to take with them to the job location. The employee works for the temp agency’s client company and fills out the hours he or she worked on the time card and has the job supervisor sign it at the end of every week or during the last day of the job assignment. These time cards are then brought to the temporary work agency’s office, they process it, and give the employee a paycheck based on the hours worked indicated by the time card. There are several advantages as well as disadvantages to working for a temp agency. I’ll talk about the advantages first.
The biggest advantage to temporary work agencies is the availability of jobs and the fact that they are very easy to apply to. In most cases you can simply walk into the temp office during a certain time of day, fill out an application and get an interview right away. That was the case when I applied at Cape Fear Staffing, a local temporary work agency where I live. I walked in, explained that I was looking for a summer job, filled out a short application, was interviewed, and got assigned to a job at a clothing manufacturer which began the very next day. Bear in mind I had no previous work experience at the time.
Temporary work agencies are a great place for job-seekers fresh out of school to go to because they offer all sorts of different job. You’re likely to find something that suits your skills. If not, they usually have several general labor jobs which just about anyone in decent physical condition can do. Another advantage to working at a temporary work agency is that you do not have to accept the jobs they offer to be considered for future employment. You call in from time to time and let them know when you are available for work. For example if you plan to take a trip during the weekend out of town and get a call from the agency requesting you take a job during that time, it’s ok for you to decline and it won’t affect the amount of jobs you are offered in the future. Also, since the temporary work agencies client companies are often in urgent need of employees, the rate of pay is usually slightly higher than if you were to apply for the job without going through a temporary work agency.
Working for a temporary work agency also has its share of disadvantages. For one thing when you are assigned to a job, you still technically work for the temporary work agency and the employer that you’re actually working for is simply their client. Why is this bad? Well, for starters the temporary work agency takes a portion of your pay. There’s no way of knowing exactly how much they’re taking because the pay rate they inform you that you’ll be paid already has the agency’s cut subtracted from it.
Picking up your paycheck can be a pain as well. Instead of simply being handed your check at work or having it mailed to you, which is how the employees who work permanent positions usually receive their checks, you must drop off your timecard at the agency’s office before receiving a check. This can be very inconvenient, especially if the temporary work agency’s office isn’t on the way to or from the job site you are assigned to. Lastly, there’s the obvious con to working as a temp: no job security. Assignments usually last only a few weeks at a time and sometimes end early.
One of the worst parts of working for a temporary work agency is that most of them are very strict and unforgiving. If you are going to be late to or absent from an assignment most agencies require you to call in and inform them 24-48 hours in advance. The problem with this is many times things come up at the last minute so there is no way you can let the agency know in time. It usually takes only one mistake before they let you go. When I was working for Cape Fear Staffing, I suffered an injury and was unable to work. I called them as soon as I could to explain what had happened to me and why I would not be able to make it to my assigned job. They let me go and told me they could not give me a favorable recommendation to future employees despite the fact that I had a doctor’s note explaining exactly why I was unable to work. I am currently working with a temporary work agency which has locations nationwide called Express Personnel. I haven’t had any issues with them thus far but their training video makes it clear that they aren’t too understanding when it comes to injuries and emergencies which prevent you from working either.
Working for a temporary work agency may not be for everyone but it’s certainly one of the easiest ways to find a job fast. It’s a great way for inexperienced workers to gain experience so that they stand a better chance at landing a more steady job in the future. In fact, sometimes the employer you are working as a temp will eventually hire you to a permanent position. So if you want work and you want it now, I highly suggest you give temping a try. Just remember to be on your best behavior and, if at all possible, never miss an assigned job.