Temporary job agencies are supposed to help you find gainful employment.
Being unemployed is a scary thing in today’s world. This can be interpreted on many different levels; paying the bills on time, financial security, and a person’s sense of self worth all come into play. The economy has been through the ringer the last couple of years and so to add to all the confusion is the daunting task of looking for work. Temporary job agencies are unemployed people’s first line of defense.
If you’ve been laid off, you’ll want to fill out unemployment forms. After that task is completed and you’re told about the ‘waiting week’ for your first check, you immediately are enticed to sit at the computers and begin sifting through the countless jobs that are currently available.
These jobs can range anywhere from sales clerks to satellite dish installers. You leave three hours later with a certain amount of trepidation at the thought of all these prospects.
The local paper has a job section. The news of the day, life, cartoons, and sports fall to the way side as you begin to scour this section for even the smallest hint of possibility. While searching this section your eye will be drawn to something that makes all the other adds seem anything less then desirable.
It’s an ad that seems larger than life and actually is larger then most of the single ads combined. This job posting entices with the prospect of good pay and many job offerings. The ability to start immediately is more then you can imagine at this point.
Enter the temporary job agencies.
There are many temporary staffing places to choose from and they all operate under the same premise.
Connecting employers that are seeking specifically skilled employees. A percentage of the pay goes to the temp agency and everyone wins. Employer gets laborer, laborer gets job, staffing agency gets paid.
The staffing industry in the United States began after World War II with small agencies in urban areas employing housewives for part-time work as office workers. Over the years the advantages of having workers who could be hired and fired on short notice and were exempt from paperwork and regulatory requirements resulted in a gradual but substantial increase in the use of temps with over 3.5 million temps employed in the United States by 2000.
My time spent at temporary job agencies has been a real ‘eye opener’.
It would be too easy for me to sit here and tear these places apart which is not my intent. Think of it more as a helpful tutorial that will help you keep things in perspective.
The illusion of full time employment – One of the biggest carrots I’ve ever seen dangled is the line; ‘this has the potential to turn into something full time’. This misnomer is as old as the ages and you must take it with a grain of salt. On a job site that I worked I met many fellow ‘tempers’. It was easier to pick us out at as everyone had a uniform except us.
The conversations were pretty formatted. “How long have you been here?”, “Which one (temp agency) are you working for?”. The illusion had been planted – mind your manners and they’ll bring you on full time. I had bought into it myself. Then I met someone who had been their for two years and was still eagerly awaiting for the ‘big day’ to come.
Never forget who you’re working for – Just because you show up with the rest of the employees on time does not make you one of them. You are a temporary employee. The employer can move you within and out of the company as they see fit. What you do have is a source of income that will help you until you can secure full time employment. I had just started at a new job site and had arrived with a group of temps that were starting on the same day I was. We all gathered on the floor of the plant where we would be working.
The supervisor stood in the center with clip board in hand explaining our jobs and what we should and shouldn’t wear on the job. He went on to explain that we would all be ‘floaters’ out on the floor. We might work in an area for as long as needed and then brought to another area as needed. From the back of the group I heard someone whisper;
A floater? Isn’t that a turd in the toilet that just won’t flush away?
This was met with a few laughs. The kids out of high school looked too nervous to laugh and I only was left to wonder how I had gotten to this point in my life.
Don’t let the paper work kill you – The onslaught of paper work at first is very over whelming. They tell you up front that this will take up to an hour. They are not fibbing about this. Between tests, job histories, and personal reference papers you will be tired. A lot is done on the computer now but you must still enter in all the information. People who walk in with a resume and references all typed up are only more organized then those without. They to must jump all the hoops to get to the prize.
Each week you must turn in a time card. With all the modern technology available, this still seemed archaic to me. Some temp agencies now allow you to go on-line and submit your hours for the week. While I was working, we were all required to turn in our slips on Friday. It came down to a small parking lot with everyone rushing in on a Friday to turn them in or you wouldn’t get paid.
The bottom line – Employers say they are ‘screening applicants’, the temp agencies sleep well at night because they’ve found someone a job and the employee gets to remain gainfully employed for yet another day.
My supervisor had called a meeting of all his employees in the department. We all went outside to sit on a picnic table and discuss how things were going. He thanked us for all the work we had been doing and just wanted to let us know how smoothly the department was running thanks in part to our efforts.
Empowered with this new sense of self worth I turned in my time card at the temp agency that week and told them I wanted a raise. The next Friday came and the same supervisor said that it was my last day and that my services would no longer be needed with the company. I finished the day and quietly went home.
If you always keep in the back of your head that you are temping, you will be alright, if that’s what you want.
Continue to seek full time, non-temporary work and don’t be lulled into thinking you’ve found a job.
Don’t let two years of your life go by. Expect something more, but for now ‘Smile… At least you’re working’.
I don’t know about you but the thought of just sitting around all day watching the talk shows never really did much for me. By keeping it all in perspective you will find yourself on the other side of this small moment in your life.
Have you had a similar experience with temporary job agencies? Leave us your comment below.