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Author Topic: Temp Agencies -- How do they work and what to watch out for?  (Read 24507 times)
yumyumdonuts
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« on: February 19, 2012, 7:03:16 PM »

I did a search on temp agencies on the forums because I'm looking for different work experiences and internships are out of the question (not currently in a degree program) but found only very old threads (2002-2006).

What are your recent experiences with temp agencies. Are there things I should watch out for?
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anisogamy
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« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2012, 7:17:45 PM »

Pre-GFC, I got some temp assignments that were fairly unpleasant, and had a hard time finding any assignments that were not patently menial or that paid more than $8.00/hour. Post-GFC, I registered with a few agencies but never managed to get a single call (but this was several years back).

My (non-academic) friend who sometimes picks up work from temp agencies in a major metropolitan area has had trouble getting gigs lately, mostly because supply of temps is so high relative to demand. One of her more memorable assignments involved wearing a gigantic peanut on her head and passing out samples outside of a subway station.

Good luck.
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A little compassion is better than kicking people when they are down, regardless of who has suffered more and longer or whose bad job market has the biggest dick.
merce
strange attractor
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« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2012, 7:29:54 PM »

I've done temping a few times.

They usually divide the positions into those that require manual labor of some kind (like factory work or construction) and office work.  I worked nearly every day when I agreed to the factory work. They would call at 7 or 8am and tell me where to go. Sometimes the work was a one-day replacement and sometimes I would stay at a place a week or two.  I thought the pay for factory work was very good but that was earning 3 times minimum wage.* You might not think that is "good."  As a temp you make less than what the regular factory workers make.

When I asked for office work I had to wait a good while before finding something. Once I did get called in for a position I made less than in a factory but it was certainly more comfortable. You could be working in a call center or filing documents.  I believe these positions were a little less than double minimum wage.

You do have the right to say no to a position if you don't think it will work for you. If you are picky they will call others first.


I'm using minimum wage so you get a sense of the pay.  My first job was in 1992 (criminy!) so I don't think the actual wage would sound right.
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yumyumdonuts
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« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2012, 11:16:28 AM »

I guess I'm back to square one, which is to say I've got nothing. I was really hoping to hear more positive stories about temp work and was thinking of how great it would be to save up a little extra money for our eventual move out of tt-city to someplace with better opportunities.

I'll look more aggressively into volunteering for nonprofits this summer, but I don't want to end up relying on the same skills and not learn anything new.

Alternatively, I can start another degree program at a cc and drop out once I've secured an internship. Has any of you gone this route?
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monsterx
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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2012, 11:25:26 AM »

The only thing positive about temping is that it is really easy to walk away from the crap jobs you get without feeling like you're giving up anything.  Because people treat you like you are less than human, it feels ok to walk away without any notice even if it messes things up for your client or temp agency.  Maybe in this economy it's different, now you have to lick the dog crap off their boots and love it, but my temping experience come from the early 90s. 
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wanna_writemore
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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2012, 11:49:52 AM »

I worked for a temp agency for several months before grad school. I was doing receptionist work with occasional secretarial work.  The temp agency did a typing test (and maybe some other software competency testing - it was a long time ago).  I found that if I called around 4:30 in the afternoon to just check in and let them know I was available the next day, I often got work.  Mostly, though, I was at different nonprofits for several days or a couple of weeks at a time.  Many temp agencies specialize in serving certain kinds of businesses/organizations, and that's good to know going in.  The one I worked for focused on nonprofits, and I really liked that.  The pay didn't vary much, and was slightly over minimum wage, but it was truly temporary for me, so I didn't really care.  I was only concerned about paying rent and having some cash to go out a few times a week since I was off to grad school in 6 or 8 months.
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wannabeaphd
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« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2012, 5:52:22 PM »

I don't know if I've posted about this before on here but I've been temping off and on for about 3 years now.

I've been in both the Boston and LA areas. I have to say that Boston was the most humane. People were straightforward and I found work easily -- everything from 1 day gigs to an assignment that I ended up forking for 18 months at. In LA, not so much.

monsterx 's post about being able to leave crap jobs is helpful and true, but so is merce 's advice that you can't say no to a position without a really good reason.

I've found that it's best to sign up with no more than 2 temp companies at one time and to say yes to whoever offers you work first. Then don't answer your phone for a couple hours in case you get a call from the other company, then you can say that you were busy or something but the job will be taken, so it won't reflect as badly on you.

Also, I've found that you generally have to work a couple of jobs to "prove" yourself at each company/location. These initial jobs will usually be 1day to a week or two, and will pay just over minimum wage. Eventually, they will trust you with better assignments and you can usually get something in the $13-20+/hr range that is also at a more humane company/not data entry.
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zharkov
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« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2012, 7:51:05 PM »


Back when I worked in industry, we'd sometimes hire temps to do clerical and secretarial work when things were busy, etc.   But -- at least in my experience -- these temp jobs were not something where people gained experience.  That is, they were not stepping stones to other things.

About getting in internship by matriculating at a CC, you probably need to have a specific career plan in mind.  There are usually forms your academic advisor needs to sign before you can register for an internship, at least in my experience.
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merce
strange attractor
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« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2012, 12:45:35 AM »

I guess I'm back to square one, ....

Alternatively, I can start another degree program at a cc and drop out once I've secured an internship. Has any of you gone this route?


Whaaaa?
 This is your response to my post which was about my positive experiences with temping?
You just sound spoiled to me now.
Woops. Did I just write that?
I'm in a pissy mood.
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melba_frilkins
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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2012, 1:20:38 AM »

Substitute teaching, if you qualify in your state. It's not through a temp agency, but along the same lines (working day by day/on call) and much more "interesting".
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yumyumdonuts
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« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2012, 2:44:15 PM »

Whaaaa?
 This is your response to my post which was about my positive experiences with temping?
You just sound spoiled to me now.
Woops. Did I just write that?
I'm in a pissy mood.

Honestly as factories are closing in my city, I didn't read your experience as being positive. I guess construction is recovering somewhat in my TT city so that may be an option rather than factory work, although I don't see many short Asian American women in construction jobs.

I appreciate all of your input, particularly wannabeaphd's post which provides specific tips (e.g, don't sign up with more than 2 temp agencies at a time).
« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 2:44:52 PM by yumyumdonuts » Logged
scout46
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« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2012, 4:30:54 PM »

I temped in New York for a couple terms/vacations while an undergraduate. This was in 2002-2003. I made about $12-$13/hour. I usually would work as a receptionist at investment banks or law firms, but around the holidays sometimes it was some sort of office manual labor. By this I mean: spending 2 days stuffing 200 holiday gift bags for a luxury beauty product company, spending a few days restocking an office supply room, etc.

I will tell you this: temping is NOT a place to get experience for a new career. Companies hire temps **when it is not yet possible for a computer or robot to complete the same task.**

They aren't going to get some random off the shelf for something requiring more than 10% of a human brain. Any work that you would find remotely interesting would require a resume review and interview.
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yumyumdonuts
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« Reply #12 on: February 29, 2012, 11:31:55 AM »

Thanks for your post, scout.

For those of you curious about a very recent temp experience, read here

http://postacademicinnyc.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/maybe-i-am-going-to-be-a-temp/

I've been looking over a few temp agencies in my area and one advertises itself as an agency that ultimately places workers into full time jobs. Would any of these experiences look good on a resume or would it look like I was aimlessly trying to make ends meet while searching for a nonacademic career?
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scout46
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« Reply #13 on: February 29, 2012, 1:26:44 PM »

No problem.

Just to answer your comment on FT jobs - that is true. A friend of mine in college was also temping in NY right after graduation. After a month or two they placed her in a FT receptionist job at an investment bank. So, the FT work will likely be similarly boring, but will provide you with a steady paycheck and benefits. If you intend to pursue your own side interests and just want a job to keep you housed/fed, then this might be ideal for you.

Most temp jobs don't really look "good" on a resume when you are trying to start an interesting new career. However, if you need dough for a few months while you look, I say go for it. Or you could start a part time volunteer thing and temp part time. There is really no downside to signing up with an agency and seeing how it goes. Worse comes to worse you declines jobs. A lot of temp gigs are only for a couple days anyway, so it's not like by temping you are necessarily precluded from other things.

Good luck!
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sevetset
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« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2012, 3:39:51 PM »

Temp agencies are a complete nightmare, especially where I live. I have been the victim of "Bait -and-Switch" so many times that I have lost count. They all tell you in the initial interview that they would never stoop to that level or try such methods on any one, but even the "so-called" most reputable ones have tried such methods on me. When you call them and inquire what happened, they try and turn it around like it is your fault. They claim that I didn't have enough experience (40 years is not enough?). Most of the time they give the jobs to friends of the recruiters or to someone just out of college. My advice to you is to stay away from these scam artists and just continue to try to find a job on your own or through networking.
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