Why job seekers should work with staffing agencies

by Kathy McAuliffe

Staffing agencies, or temp agencies, can be serious partners in your job search. Employers and your competition are using them, and that means you should, too.

Since the end of the recession, employment through staffing companies has been particularly strong, as shown by recent data from the American Staffing Association:

  • Staffing employment grew 5.4% in 2014, with U.S. staffing companies employing 3.2 million temp and contract workers every week.
  • Additionally, In the first quarter of 2015, staffing employment was up 5.5% compared to the same period in 2014.

A 2015 study by CareerBuilder adds weight to those statistics:

  • The report notes that temporary help services were some of the first industries to add jobs when the recession officially ended, growing 57 percent between 2009 and 2014.
  • It also projects that temporary jobs will grow another 13 percent over the next five years.

Why you should seriously consider temp jobs

Employers love to hire on a temporary or contract basis because it gives them the flexibility to stay in tune with ever-changing economic and market demands. To job-seekers, however, temporary jobs might seem undesirable; many job-seekers want full employment, with the greater sense of security and the benefits it provides.

Nevertheless, there are benefits to taking a temporary assignment, and to working with a temp firm.  Sheree Gilmore, Director of Career Services at the ITT Technical Institute in Oak Brook states, ‘Yes, we most certainly do advise our students and graduates to use temporary employment agencies. They are a valuable tool for a number of reasons.’

For example, says Gilmore, when a graduate is challenged in finding a permanent job in a timely manner, working temp or on a contract basis fills in the gap of not working at all. It is key to remember, she says, that an individual is more marketable when employed…even if it is on a temporary basis. Employers are often wary of hiring job applicants who have extended periods of unemployment, and temp jobs can be a way of filling a gap on your resume.

Gilmore also points out that temp work is an excellent way to gain experience and additional skills. For those with little work experience, it can be a way to demonstrate their abilities. For those with background issues it can be a way of proving their commitment to ‘turning around,’ and to choosing a different lifestyle.

Short term temp gigs are also an excellent opportunity to gain understanding and adjust to corporate culture at a specific employer, according to Gilmore.  And it is a chance for the job-seeker to ‘interview’ every day on the job, proving his or her skills in case the employer becomes ready to open a full-time position.

Jim Fergle, Job Search Services Manager at the workNet DuPage Career Center agrees.  ‘Every time you work as a temp or on a contract, you are interviewing; it is your foot in the door.’

‘Working through a temp agency or staffing firm also helps you keep up your skills and stay marketable,’ says Fergle, ‘and it helps you identify a particular employer as right for you; helps you clarify your skills and interests.’

Additionally, many employment agencies/staffing firms will test your skills, especially if you work in general office/administration, he says.  ‘That helps you and the employer know where you stand.’

And, says Fergle, if the assignment is just not working for you, you can leave it more easily than leaving full employment; you can try another temp job and see how it goes.

Start working with staffing agencies today

A job search that does not include the professional help of a staffing firm or temp agency is missing a huge component of an effective search.

If you’re not currently working with a staffing agency, ask around for feedback about various staffing companies in the area. Go to networking groups and job clubs and ask for opinions there. Make a list of the agencies people think highly of, then call them to talk about what you have to offer and the kind of job you’re looking for.

And do it today – the sooner you start making those connections, the sooner you will start to benefit from them!

A longer version of this article first appeared at workNet Du Page.