Let’s face it – it’s not all that easy to get a job after college. Sure, yes, maybe you took all the right classes, (or maybe you followed your heart and majored in Art, only to find that well-paying painting gigs are a little hard to come by), and maybe you even have an internship or two to list on your resume. But times have been tough in the past few years, and there are some very qualified people out there who have been in the work force for much longer than you. And they are out vying for the very same position you are aiming for.
So what’s a recent college grad to do? Especially when you not only need a career, but some good old-fashioned money? Answer: Consider a staffing agency. Staffing agencies (also often known as temp agencies) generally offer a variety of
hiring options, including temporary, temporary-to-permanent, and direct hire positions. You can often start work almost immediately and (hopefully) even end up with a job that will provide you with a strong start in the corporate world.
Here’s the run-down on what these staffing terms mean:
Temporary jobs are the kind where an agency sends to you a client of theirs for a short time to fulfill a certain position.
These can be anything from receptionist, customer service, data entry or any kind of short-term need a company might have. Generally, these jobs run about a day to a few weeks, although some offer long-term temporary positions, where the “temp” (that would be you) works for several months, or even years. (Yes, it has been known to happen – some people are just very happy working this way!) While working as a temp, your salary is paid by the staffing agency. Payday is usually
once a week, which is a nice bonus for those living paycheck-to-paycheck, as many recent college grads are. You can generally pick up your check directly at the agency, although some places offer direct deposit into your checking account.
Temp-to-perm jobs start out with you working as a temp for the agency’s client. All the usual rules apply, including your
salary being paid by the agency. However, if the client likes you and you like them, they may offer you a permanent position.
If this occurs, then they hire you from the agency, and you become an official employee of the client. Temp-to-perm
positions are great because it is a good way to check out a job and/or a company before anyone makes a formal
commitment to each other.
Direct hire positions begin with a company who has an open position that they have filed with the agency. The agency then acts as a middleman between you and the company hiring. You will go through an initial interview with the staffing agency
first and they will then speak to the company about you – this is a huge bonus because you have someone who acts on
your behalf with the company. Consider the agency to be your very own personal sales team…who wouldn’t want someone talking you up to a potential employer? If everyone agrees it could be a good fit, you generally will go through an interview process with the company itself (with the agency assisting with the arrangements), until you are hopefully offered the job!
So how does it work? Most staffing agencies require an appointment, although some will accept walk-ins. You can often browse agency websites for potential positions and to find out what their general procedures are for interviews.
Once you have made an appointment, be sure to bring with you a couple of copies of your resume. The agency will want at least one on file, and it is handy for them to have an extra copy or two. In addition, be sure to bring a couple of forms of ID. When you make your appointment, it’s a good idea to ask if they need you to bring anything else with you. Once you are
there, you will fill out an application and other general paperwork (including a W-2, if you are going to start out as a temp, as this makes you an employee of the temporary agency). Agencies will often also have you do some computer tests for
various proficiencies that you have, including MS Word/Excel/Powerpoint, as well as typing, etc. These tests can take some time to complete, but they are worth it, as the agency can then inform clients of your test scores and be sure that you are a good fit for the skills that the client is seeking. So be patient, and be sure to give yourself a couple of hours for your appointment when you are making your plans for the day.
You will then meet with one of the agency’s recruiters and have an interview – during this interview, they will get a good
feel for your background, skills, and what kind of jobs you are seeking. Be sure to let them know what kind of positions
you are open to – whether it’s just temporary, temp-to-perm, or direct hire. And be flexible, if at all possible. Agencies love
to meet a bright, educated prospect that is willing to try just about anything! People who are willing to go out on a variety of temp jobs while the agency is searching for a temp-to-perm and/or permanent position for them are considered golden by agencies. Remember that if they like you, this will translate when they are talking to clients about you!
During the interview, they will probably talk to you about positions that they have open, if any of them are a good fit for you. Here’s one of the greatest things about staffing agencies – you could have a job lined up before you even walk out the door! And while you are working temporary positions, the agency can be looking for permanent positions for you. In other words, you’ll be earning money while experts are working to find you a job…now THAT’S a smart situation!