I’d like to talk a bit this time about temporary employment agencies. I’ve always been puzzled by how few people who are out of work use them, whereas as a hiring manager I love temporary agencies.
Case in point. The son of a good friend of mine has been – unsuccessfully – looking for a job for over nine months. He has some good experience, is smart, and presents himself well. However, with so many other over-qualified people in the job market he just hasn’t yet been able to land anything. I asked him if he’d thought about looking for some temporary jobs while he continued to seek full time employment. Turns out he hadn’t even considered it. I told him he most certainly should and here’s why.
First, it’s an excellent way to get your foot in the door of an organization and demonstrate what you can do. As a hiring manager, I always prefer hiring people with whom I’m familiar, as it greatly reduces the risk associated with new employees. Resumes and interviews are all well and good, but nothing quite compares to being able to see firsthand whether someone has the soft skills that are so important to success (see my last two posts for details about the important soft skills).
I use temporary agencies several times each year and love the fact that I can get a pre-screened, qualified person quickly to fill an immediate need. I’ve used temporary agencies for all levels of employees – from clerical help all the way up to high level technical and business professionals.
In fact, I recently used temporary workers that I brought in to backfill for two of my employees who were working on a special assignment in another department. Both of these temporary hires did extremely well and I became very familiar with their skills sets and good work ethic. After a few months, my employees on special assignment were doing so well that they were promoted and I now had to fill their positions permanently. No problem. I already had two known, good performing replacements on board and I hired them.
Over the years, I’ve hired many temporary workers as permanent employees and almost without exception they’ve been excellent hires. This is no surprise, as good temporary agencies screen their candidates well and there’s a high likelihood of them being competent and having good attitudes. In fact, most of the temporary workers I’ve hired were doing these gigs because they were unemployed and searching for permanent jobs. They are almost always happy to be working and consequently try hard to do a good job, get along with everyone and make a good overall impression. In other words, just the kind of people hiring managers like to hire!
Even if your temporary jobs don’t lead to full time employment, at a minimum you’ve gained experience and make some valuable contacts. I always offer to be a reference to people I’ve hired temporarily (assuming, of course, that they did a good job!) and I periodically get reference calls on temporary employees I’ve hired in the past.
If you’re currently unemployed and job searching, there is absolutely no stigma associated with working for a temporary agency. Most hiring managers will be impressed that you had the initiative to find temporary work while you were looking for a permanent job and remember – you’ll have those good references to use.