Tips for Identifying and Evaluating Temporary Agencies

Part 3

There are many factors that can make or break your level of success with a staffing service.  There are many factors that can make or break your level of success with a fortune 500 company.  Why is it that people see them as different when they are actually the same?

In this third and final part, we will discuss how to select the right staffing service, what homework you need to perform to avoid a bad experience and how to make the most of your time while looking for the right opportunity.

Top staffing services can get you in the door with organizations you may not otherwise know or have access, but don’t expect to go fishing while letting your networking contacts do all the work for you.  So, how do you make the right decision?  Here are some things to think about.

Research Various Staffing Services

Not all staffing services are the same.  Each service will have a unique set of clients. Some offer and don’t offer benefits.  Some hire specific skills and are specialty firms, such as IT, healthcare, engineering, accounting, labor and office while some are general in nature and place in a wide variety of skills.  Some will only allow you to work with only one recruiter and with some you will be able to work with all of the recruiters in the office.  Some hire for only temp, temp-to-hire or direct hire and some will offer each option.  So, make a list of what is most important to you so you can choose the staffing service that matches your needs.

In addition, you can search various on-line job sites and view the various types of positions the staffing service is advertising. You should go to their website and review their job board.  While not a complete listing, it will give you an idea as to the positions they place and whether those types of positions might offer you new opportunities.  Be selective, but also feel free to register with more than one service.

Ask Questions

A few questions up front will give you an idea of the opportunities they may have waiting for you.

  • How do you decide who to employ?  Yes, it is a pain to take a lot of tests, but a good service needs to match your skill with the client expectation and needs to be confident they can place you within their client base.
  • How long will it take to get placed?  Of course, the answer to this question will depend on why you are going to a staffing firm.  It is ok to be selective and wait for just the right kind of opportunity, but just know it will most likely take longer to be placed.
  • What percent of people get hired?  If you are applying for a particular job, ask about the client, how often they hire from that service, why the position is open, have others worked the assignment and why did they leave, etc.

Don’t Take the Staffing Service Interview Casually

A staffing service hires people only with talent that meets their client’s skill requirements.  That means you will be asked about your résumé, job experience and experience just as you would anywhere else.  Most likely, your skills will be tested.  So, do your research, be on time, look your best and don’t be vague with your answers during the interview.

Tips for the Staffing Service Interview

  • Be clear about what your goals are and what you hope to gain through temp work. At that point it will be easier to identify the organization that might benefit you the most.
  • Be flexible and keep a positive attitude.  The more flexible you are with your work requirements, the more assignments and interviews you will receive, if you are qualified for their client requirements.
  • Find out about the agency’s specializations, client companies or industries, typical work assignments, benefits and training that may be available to you.
  • Make sure you know the best way to communicate with your recruiter or with the recruiters in the office.
  • Some recruiters only work on specific clients and some recruiters are aware of all the clients in their office so find out what you need to do to keep working and how to develop a working relationship.
  • Give complete, crisp and truthful answers.  They can always tell when you are not forthcoming.
  • Find out about their policies; asking for time-off, calling in sick, getting hired by their client, your responsibility in turning in a timecard and most importantly – getting paid and the various options that may be available.  For example: direct deposit, pay card, paycheck, weekly, bi-weekly, etc.  Beware, if they find out you have violated any of their policies or procedures, your time with that service and the assignment may come to an abrupt end, just like any other company.
  • Follow-up; thank them for their time just like you would with any other company.  Believe it or not, it will set you apart.

Don’t Sit Back and Wait

We get a number of people who register with our service and then never follow-up or call back.  You do need to check-in regularly and let them know you are still looking.  A good staffing recruiter can be working with a lot of different candidates and it is difficult for the recruiter to remember everybody.  Those that distinguish themselves and call in regularly get the greater amount of their attention.  But don’t be a pest or stalk the recruiter(s).    Find out the best time and way to stay in touch.  Continue looking for work on your own as well as with other staffing services.  This is just one step in the process of networking and finding a job that fits your lifestyle.

Be Flexible with Assignments

The service may stop calling you if they offer you several positions and you keep turning them down.  Give a few temporary positions a go even if you were hoping for temp-to-hire work, and don’t be afraid to work for companies you’ve never considered. One of the advantages of working as a temporary is sampling several experiences without making a commitment; if you’re unhappy with one position, remember it won’t last forever.

A temp job is not a good choice for someone who is trying to climb the corporate ladder. Those who don’t like change would also find temp jobs undesirable. If you like to explore a variety of work settings, discover innovative industries, meet new people, gain and improve your skills, and investigate the possibility of immediate, short-term or long-term positions then you may really enjoy this lifestyle; millions do.  Working as a temp isn’t for everybody, but it can help you gain visibility in a crowded and uncertain job market.

Learn more about writing a Résumé and what Key Words to use on your résumé.