The merits of temping agencies

These days, getting a temporary job isn’t easy. My dad likes to occasionally bait me with the not-so-sympathetic line “When I was young, you simply had to walk into an office/shop/pub etc., and the job was yours”, and I have to remind him that it (probably) isn’t that no one WANTS to employ me, it’s simply that they can’t.

Working in an office ©Gveret Tered

Office departments can do without paying an under-qualified temp jobber, shops can’t afford to pay for extra help, and neither can pubs and restaurants; those that can tend to offer the jobs to people who’ve worked for them previously. Step up the temping agency.

Temping agencies have helped me enormously in finding work. My nearest town is relatively small, so after leaving school I filled out copious leaflets about myself in the hope that something would turn up. Most of the jobs that I’ve had have come from agencies, and whilst they haven’t been particularly interesting, it has saved me hours of handing out CVs and phoning up about jobs that will never be mine.

Whilst this might seem like the lazy person’s job hunt, it isn’t without its merits. Employers tend to go through agencies if they’re looking for a few extra employees for the summer, as the agencies can recommend people who are reliable and hardworking. Equally, if you turn up for work on time, are polite, well-dressed, and work hard, you can begin to build up a reputation within the agency. Once they know that you’re a good candidate for a certain job, they’ll tend to offer you jobs before other, less reliable job seekers.

Of course, this doesn’t all happen overnight. As well as spending weeks turning up on time and properly dressed to a job that is generally the same thing day in, day out, it helps to have the sort of attitude that gets you through the coma–inducing nine-to-five (most of the temp jobs available in my town are data entry) without banging your head on the desk out of sheer boredom: keep smiling and being friendly, and word will pass up through your colleagues to your boss that you’re capable of working without complaint, who will hopefully relay this feedback to the agency, who will put it on your file, and hey presto, you’re one rung further up the ladder.

Other things to think about are to go into the agency frequently, as they’re more likely to offer work to people whose faces they recognise. Always dress smartly – I was filling in forms to join an agency, and all the employees were raving about a young man who came in at the start of every holidays, wearing a suit and tie, politely asking if there were any jobs available for him. A suit isn’t always necessary, but smart is; if you’re looking for office work, definitely no jeans.

Don’t let me put you off with my complaints about boredom, as most agencies will try to find you work in a wide variety of job sectors. And although data entry, after two months, makes me want to pull out my toenails one by one for something more entertaining to do, on my CV it shows that I can put up with menial, boring tasks, something which most temp jobs are full of.

Once, I struck up enough of a friendship with my contact in an agency that, when I was desperate for a something to do to fill up a week, she offered me the job of sorting out the agency’s filing room. Not glamorous, but it was a job, which paid money, that I’d got through being polite, hardworking, and joining an agency. Definitely worth it.



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