Temporary or “temp” agencies have become a source of hope for many. They not only provide a much needed source of income, but help job seekers to maintain current skills while looking for a permanent job. Working for temporary agencies also provides the opportunity to learn new skills to increase marketability. It is important to realize, however, that not all temp agencies handle the same type of company clientele or place the same type of workers.
A general agency is one that normally finds work in basic administrative, secretarial and light industrial areas. They generally purport themselves has handling a wide variety of placements without any specialties. Many people will use these types of agencies to fill in between permanent paying jobs. General agencies will occasionally offer “industry specific” jobs if they retain a client who owns a construction company, for example. This type of specificity in a general agency is rare, however.
Administrative and clerical agencies are slightly more specialized than a general agency. Aside from administrative and executive assistant positions, they may also place people in graphic design or project management type work. Their clients tend to be larger firms then those utilizing the general agencies. Companies also tend to use these types of agencies to hire temp to perm workers. This gives them the opportunity to see how a temp will work out before placing them on the payroll.
Industry specific, is a third type of temporary agency. These agencies tend to work with one particular field of job seekers, for example, accounting or nursing. Industry specific agencies are particularly helpful to people looking for work in a specific field or to maintain current skills in an area of expertise. These placements, however, do not last as long as the assignments with the other types of agencies.
While those are the main types of temporary agencies, there are some that fall loosely into the temporary agency category. Executive only placement is one such agency. This agency is geared toward placing higher paid executives. In this case, the client may be the job seeker rather than a specific company. An on-site agency is another category of temporary agency. These agencies tend to be “on-site” at large companies that use a lot of temporary workers. This takes the burden off of the company’s Human Resources Department to keep the positions filled. The final special agency type would be the Technical Placement Agency. This type of agency tends to place IT professionals.
As unbelievable as it may be, scams do exist even in the world of temporary agencies. A scam agency may contact you claiming to be working on behalf of a large firm, but they may not be. Their company clients tend to be less then reputable. Also, be careful if an agency offers to "tweak" your resume. This “tweaking” could be an attempt to bolster and include inaccurate information about your skills to make you more marketable. Be sure to check the track record of any temporary agency you choose to work with. After all, the responsibility of your work and integrity lies solely with you.
It is important to remember that not all temporary agencies work in the same manner or handle the same type of client. Determine what type of placement you are looking for and work with the agency that best suits your needs. It is alright, however, to work with a variety of agencies in order to increase your chances of finding a job. Next week, I will talk about what to expect and putting your best foot forward when working with temporary agencies.