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Temp Agencies Pros and Cons

I’ve always loved temporary employment agencies in my role as a Hiring Manager. And in today’s tough labor market, I like them even more!

With so many openings going unfilled, I must have good working relationships with multiple temp agencies. Sometimes it’s the only way I can get by in a particular area until I hire permanent staff. And hiring permanent staff is pretty challenging in today’s world!

Temp agencies can be a lifeline when I’m understaffed and here’s why I like them:

  • I can get immediate help when someone quits unexpectedly. This allows me to take the time to recruit a qualified replacement.
  • I can get immediate help for projects that need to staff up quickly but then reduce staff when they are completed. This avoids the gut-wrenching process of having to lay people off.
  • If the temporary employee doesn’t work out well, I can get an immediate replacement.
  • I can specify the exact skills I need. The best temp agencies screen applicants very well and I avoid the unpleasant surprise of someone who isn’t qualified.
  • If it turns out I don’t need the temporary person as long as originally anticipated, I just tell the agency I don’t need them anymore and I won’t see them the next day. Conversely, if I need them longer than expected, it’s usually easy to extend them.
  • I can judge how good the people are who are sent by the temp agency and subsequently consider them for when I have a permanent opening (always adhering to the contract provisions with the temp agency, of course!). I’ve filled many permanent openings over the years with people I used from a temp agency.
  • I know in advance exactly what my salary cost will be and can control it by the skill and experience requirements I give to the temp agency.
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As a Hiring Manager, temporary agencies make my job a lot easier, especially with the labor shortages created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In other words, temp agencies are sure a great deal for us Hiring Managers!

But are they a great deal for you – the job seeker? There isn’t an easy answer, as temp agencies present a mixture of disadvantages as well as advantages that may or may not work for you. Here’s my read on temp agencies as far as job seekers are concerned. 

The Pros of Temp Agencies for the Job Seeker

  • It’s a good way to gain experience when you don’t have enough to qualify for a permanent job.
  • It’s a good way to become familiar with that company as a potential future employer.
  • It’s a good way for that company to get familiar with you. As a result, the temporary job may end up turning into a permanent job, but be careful here. Most temp agencies contractually prohibit you from taking a permanent job with the company they sent you to for a period of 30 to 60 days. This is to prevent companies from using temp agencies as their recruiters. Carefully consider this when deciding which temp agency to use.
  • Your hours may be flexible, especially if you’re placed in a large company.
  • You don’t have a long-term commitment to one organization.
  • It’s a good way to earn money when you’re in between jobs and looking for permanent employment.
  • It’s a way to develop a good reputation and obtain references you can use when seeking a permanent job.
  • It’s a way to build your referral network.
  • You can develop new skills to make you more marketable.
  • It can fill in gaps in employment and shows initiative to future employers.
  • It’s a good way to reenter the job market after a long period of absence.
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The Cons of Temp Agencies for Job Seekers

  • Temporary jobs obtained through a general temporary employment agency (as opposed to an agency specializing in professional jobs) tend to be lower level and frequently repetitious with set routines.
  • There is little job security. If staff is reduced, temporary employees are usually the first to go.
  • There are usually few employee rights for temp employees, at least at the company with which you’re placed. You may have some with your temporary agency.
  • You may not be treated as well as permanent employees.
  • There are few or no company benefits for temps, although you may have some with the temp agency if you’ve been with them for some time.

Tips for If You Decide to Sign Up With a Temp Agency

  • Treat temporary agencies just like you would any other employer. Find out the skills they look for and the geographical areas they service (you may not want to find yourself with a long commute).
  • Ask in advance what type of testing they do. Many will test your Microsoft Office skills, typing, and data entry skills. They may want to do this in advance of taking you on as a client.
  • Also, look at company job postings, as many companies directly recruit for temporary positions. Getting a temporary job this way can be very beneficial because if they like you they can hire you permanently without the contract restrictions of a temporary agency. I’ve hired many permanent positions like this. It’s a great way to evaluate someone on the job before making a permanent hire.
  • Temporary agencies are in great demand today due to the labor shortages, so treat them as you would any other employer. The better you perform on the assignments they send you on, the better the assignments you’ll get in the future.
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