While somewhat overshadowed these days by the “gig economy” movement, the temporary staffing industry remains a huge player in workforce staffing. Temporary staffing is also referred to as contingency staffing and is used by a wide variety of companies to expand their workforce capacity for increases in seasonal demand, to support projects, and as a pipeline for talent (which is how this path differs greatly from the gig economy). While often not seen as a career pathway, the temp firm route offers several advantages:
- It allows you to work within many companies over a relatively short period of time so you can learn more about their work environment, culture, and people.
- It helps build your resume and gain skills and experience. While not seen as highly demanding on the skill side, any temp assignment should be seen as an opportunity to learn and build your skill base.
- Exposure to hiring managers. Many of us will not be able to interact with a hiring manager outside of a job interview. In a temp role, you’ll have a working relationship with managers and co-workers that you can leverage to learn more about the roles you want, discuss career paths, or simply to build your network (e.g., your current assignment may not be a great fit, but your hiring manager might know of a better opportunity for you).
- Lastly, many companies rely heaving on the temporary-to-permanent route for many positions where they fill those roles exclusively through temp agency staffing. Once they see who is performing well and enjoying the work, they offer them a permanent job. In addition to temp-to-perm, many staffing agencies provide direct placement hiring services, basically serving as the recruiter for the company.
There are a couple of ways to go about using the temporary staffing firm route. Obviously, they post jobs on their website and you can usually fill out a profile on their system as well. That being said, calling in to make an in-person (or over the phone appointment during pandemics) may be preferable as you can have a direct conversation to let the recruiter know what you are looking for, or not looking for, as well as a list of companies, or industries, you are interested in working with. Alternatively, if there is a company you are interested in, a good tactic is to call into their HR department and ask if they use temp firms, and if so, who do they use. This is a good tactic when the job postings you see require experience and skills that you have not yet gained.
Another important item to consider is that the job assignments are going to vary and may not be the most fun or exciting. Temp jobs are often entry-level clerical, administrative, call center/service, light manufacturing, or construction type jobs. But you should treat every assignment as an opportunity to learn and to gain entry to a more suitable job. You should really treat them as an ongoing job interview, as you don’t know what doors might open for you if you impress your managers and full-time co-workers. Among the big name firms, you’ll find in the staffing world are Adecco, Manpower, Kelly Services, Randstad, Kforce, and many others. Most firms provide entry level to professional level placement. Some firms specialize in IT or finance/accounting professionals, such as Robert Half. So if you do have specific skills in those areas, those firms are worth seeking out as well.
Once you get into an assignment, it will be up to you to assess the company environment, nature of their work, jobs available, potential career paths, and the people and culture to determine if it’s a good fit. If it is and you want to stay, talk with your manager and human resources about what you need to do to get on full time. If not, learn as much as you can and make a good impression….having ample references will never hurt you.
I’ve been working at ADP (Automatic Data Processing) in Fort Collins for 16 years and was introduced to the company via a part-time temp job that I worked after relocating to the area. At the time I was looking to get hired at other companies in the region, when a sales opportunity came up. I had met a member of the sales team, which allowed me to get an inside track and get the role. We have several other managers who’ve come up through the organization after starting as a temp. The temp firm route allows you to get to know companies before making a long commitment to them, it helps you understand their work environments, build your resume, learn new skills, learn what you like (or don’t like), build relationships, and position you to successfully get the right job at the right company when you find it. I hope you found this helpful. Good luck!
Pete Eberle is a District Sales Manager within ADP’s Talent Acquisition Solutions group working in Fort Collins focusing on solutions for mid-market companies. He has been with ADP for 16 years providing talent and other human capital management solutions. He also has experience in industry trade associations, eCommerce solutions, and the environmental industries. Pete has a BS in Environmental Health from Colorado State University and an MBA from Washington University.
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