How to Use a Temp Agency to get a Job

How to Use a Temp Agency to get a Job

How to Use a Temp Agency to get a Job

Updated 20 May 2021

Written by Amy Dawson
Amy Dawson

The lure of a temporary job is often overlooked. People are used to the expectations of permanent employment; whether that’s a stable income, employee benefits or opportunities for career progression.

But in recent years, the temporary jobs market has expanded dramatically. It’s no longer the domain of entry-level jobs or low-paid employment. Instead, the temporary workforce (and the resurgent gig economy) has been revitalized.

As such, you can find short-term employment in almost any sector at any stage of your career.

The explosion of temporary staffing agencies means that it’s now possible to break into seemingly impossible job roles thanks to the positive relationships fostered between corporate clients and recruitment consultants.

Therefore, if you are looking to try and break into a new job role, change your career, find working hours that suit your lifestyle or simply test a new role without any commitment, then you may wish to register your details with a temporary job agency.

This article explores how to strategically make use of temp job agencies to take control of your career.

What Is a Temp Agency?

A temp agency specializes in the recruitment of short-term workforces.

They may focus on specific work contracts (perhaps lasting three to six months) or they may specialize in the self-employment/locum sector whereby the worker is placed into a job role for specific shift patterns (for example, supply teachers).

Temporary work agencies have a pool of talent available at their disposal. They encourage individuals to register their details and provide copies of their CVs or resumes.

When a suitable job role comes up that matches an individual's skill sets, they can set in motion the recruitment process on behalf of the employer (who pays a commission to the agency).

Temp agencies can recruit for a wide range of job roles including seasonal roles (such as additional retail roles during the holidays) or time-specific job roles such as summer jobs to supplement your income.

Temp agencies can also be a valuable resource for companies who need to fill short-term skills gaps and are otherwise unlikely to attract high caliber applicants.

Why Do Businesses Choose to Use Temporary Employment Agencies?

Many businesses choose to work with temporary employment agencies because they may have a role that they need to fill for a short amount of time (possibly to cope with a specific project or maybe to cover for a staff member who is unable to work).

They may not have the time to invest in a lengthy recruitment campaign or they might want to test if a new role is the right move for their business.

Instead, they can simply provide details of the job role to the temporary agency, knowing that the agency will seek out highly qualified candidates, arrange any compliance checks (such as background checks or identification verification) and filter through the prospective candidates most likely to succeed.

In today’s increasingly complicated economy, more businesses are turning to short-term workforces to manage projects or test out new areas for business growth.

This is because they can have access to talented workforces without the expense of lengthy recruitment campaigns or having to worry about making staff redundant at the end of a project.

Why Do Individuals Choose to Register With Temporary Employment Agencies?

For an individual, there are many reasons why you may wish to look at short-term employment as a viable career choice.

Some people may benefit from the flexibility that short-term contracts can bring. For example, if you are working in a seasonal job role or you have long periods of free time, short-term contracts can fill in the gaps, providing you with additional income.

Others are drawn to the fact that you can take complete control over your career. You can choose what hours you want to work (ideal if you are raising a family or have other commitments), you can decide what types of job role you want to do and there is no need to worry about spending time looking for a job – the agency will do that on your behalf.

Ultimately, choosing to work via a temporary job agency can give you more freedom over your career than is otherwise possible in permanent employment.

How to Find the Right Temp Agency for You

Your first step to using a temporary job agency to strategically help you achieve your dream career is to register with an agency.

It is worth spending time researching various temporary employment agencies. Each will have its own ways of working or niche specialisms.

Some may have specific contracts with certain employers (which can be perfect if you are trying to break into a specific industry) and others may focus on senior recruitment positions to help manage projects or cope with unexpected ebbs and flows.

Here are some of our top tips for registering with a temp agency:

Take the Time to Get to Know Your Temporary Job Agency

When you find a temporary agency that seems right for you, do not be afraid to ask them lots of questions.

Ask them what sort of job roles they recruit for and what clients they have contracts with.

You may wish to find out about contract details – how long is it likely to take before they find you a job role and, if you register with them, whether it will preclude you from registering with any other agencies.

You could also find out if the agency will help you to craft your resume or cover letter for specific job applications.

Prepare for Your Initial Meeting With Your Temp Agency Like a Job Interview

Your preferred agency will likely invite you in for an interview. This is so that the recruitment team can get to learn more about who you are, what your skills are and what job roles you are looking for.

The more information you can give them, the better the chance that the relationship will be successful.

It is important to remember that the recruiter is working on your behalf. They are there to help you find the perfect job that meets your needs and your skills. And it is in their interest to match you to that ideal placement because they will be paid a commission for finding you that job.

A top tip is to prepare for this interview like you would an interview with an employer. Take the time to think about how you would explain your strengths and weaknesses and remember that first impressions are everything.

A recruiter needs to see how you react under pressure. They want to see how you perform during an interview because that will help them to view you through a potential employer's lens.

Be Honest About What You Are Looking For

Another top tip is to be upfront about what you are looking for. The temporary job agency will be actively looking for positions on your behalf; therefore, you need to tell them if there are any specifics that you need them to consider.

These may include:

  • Shift patterns
  • Types of job you want to do
  • Things you do or do not like
  • What hours you would prefer to work

The more flexible that you can be, and the more information that you give to the recruiter, the easier it will be for them to find jobs that match your preferences.

Pretending to be more flexible than you truly can be may result in you getting a position that does not fit what you want or need. This will benefit no one.

Be Aware That You Will Be Employed by the Temp Agency

If you are working via a temporary job agency, you will be an employee of that agency, not the company that you are working for.

It sounds confusing, but this is because the agency has the responsibility of filling that company’s job role – and the employer pays them a commission for doing so.

The temp agency will be responsible for paying you directly and they will also be responsible for collecting any necessary tax payments.

Some temp job agencies will offer additional benefits such as healthcare insurance.

You must ensure that you are aware of what your agency offers before you sign any contracts.

How to Use a Temp Agency to get a Job

Advantages of Using a Temporary Employment Agency

There are many positive reasons why you should choose to register with a temporary employment agency:

1. You Can Be Honest About What You Are Looking For

During a job interview, many people will tell a few small white lies in a bid to impress the hiring panel and increase their chances of being hired.

These may not always a problem – sometimes, it is just a small embellishment (perhaps in an interview for a company that was not exactly your first choice).

When it comes to speaking with a temporary agency, you can be far more honest about what you are looking for.

If you are more motivated by salary than career progression/working atmosphere, it is fine to let your recruiter know.

When it comes to temporary recruitment, your consultant does not have a personal stake in your career development. They may be more open to listening to what you want to achieve personally, rather than how your choices affect a company.

2. You Have More Choice and the Freedom to Work in the Ways That Suit You

Temporary contacts are ideal for those who want to pick and choose when and where they want to work.

You may be looking to have a positive work-life balance; in which case, short-term contracts can help you to take time off as and when is needed.

Similarly, if you are less picky about what job roles you do, you can have far more choice because the recruiter is looking on your behalf and they may look in unexpected places.

Some people like to have a variety of workplaces on their resumes. This is because they believe that they learn transferrable skills in different industries and they are open to making new contacts in different places.

Others may feel that temporary work is perfect for them because they do not know what to expect in their future.

For example, military families may prefer temporary work placements because they do not know if they may have to relocate at short notice – in which case, only working in short-term contracts can work in their favor.

3. Your Recruiter May Have Contacts That Can Help You Open New Doors

You may be surprised to know that some of the largest national corporations may make the most of temporary workforces. You may even be surprised to learn that senior positions are often filled through short-term work placements.

An advantage of registering with a temp agency is that the recruiter will have far more contacts than you do.

They will have built strong relationships with hundreds of employers and will be far more likely to open new doors on your behalf than if you simply sent a speculative cover letter and a copy of your resume.

4. You Can Use Temporary Job Roles to Strategically Improve Your Resume

Many people misunderstand temporary work. It is not just entry-level job roles or unqualified positions.

Instead, many workforces are using short-term contracts to build up their business strategically. They may need an immediate starter and are using short-term staff to help them out whilst they organize what they need, or they may need someone to cover for a staff member who is unable to work.

At a senior level, businesses may be using C-suite project managers or consultants to come in and focus on a specific project before moving on elsewhere.

For individuals, this offers a great chance to improve a resume faster than permanent employment.

A benefit of temporary work is that you can experience different employers, learn new skills and work alongside different people. From each job, you can take something new into the next job role.

This means that you can quickly build up a wealth of experience and knowledge which may enable you to apply for more senior positions and leapfrog your way up the career ladder faster than those who have spent their entire careers working in one place.

Additionally, you can start to build up your network and contact book, which means you may be remembered in the future for a specific role, even if your temporary contract is long gone.

5. You Are Working With a Professional Recruiter Who Can Help Improve Your Technique

You should also remember that your temporary agency is there to help you get a job.

They may help you to improve your resume, or offer constructive feedback on how to write a cover letter or prepare for an interview.

Try to use the recruiter as much as you can to improve your employability.

6. You Can Get Honest, Constructive Feedback

It would be great to think that you would receive feedback from employers after a job interview, but the truth is that many companies simply do not have the time or inclination to offer individual feedback to unsuccessful candidates.

However, if a company is using a temporary employment agency to help in its recruitment process, it is more likely to provide feedback when making a decision.

Your recruitment consultant should pass this feedback onto you, helping you to understand what you need to do to improve your interview technique.

7. There May Be an Opportunity to Move From Temporary to Permanent Employment

Finally, many recruiters use short-term workforces as a bridge as they consider expansion plans.

Many employers will look to their temporary staff to see if they are willing to work permanently for them. These are known as temp-to-hire or temp-to-perm job opportunities.

If you are trying to get a foot in the door or are looking for a career change and you simply want to get some initial experience, this can be beneficial.

The Negatives of Using a Temporary Employment Agency

Of course, there are some drawbacks of temporary employment and using temporary job agencies:

1. You May Get Overlooked as a Result of Higher-Profile Candidates

Yes, a recruiter is looking for work on your behalf, but their reputation will be based on putting forward the most appropriate and highest-qualified candidates.

Therefore, you run a chance of being overlooked for some great temporary positions because other applicants already have better resumes or career history.

To overcome this, you need to work with your recruiter to ensure that your resume is as strong as it can be.

You also need to make sure that they are aware of all your transferrable skills so that they can ‘talk you up’ to a potential employer even if, on paper, you are a weaker proposition.

2. Some Companies Only Focus on Temporary Work, Not Temporary-to-Perm Contracts

Some temp agencies will focus on temporary-to-perm contracts. This means that there is a high probability that your contract will become permanent at the end of your fixed-term contract.

Other agencies will focus solely on temporary contracts which could be for singular shifts, for a week or two, or just a couple of months.

You must be aware of what your preferred temp agency’s strengths are. If you are moving into temporary work intending to switch back to permanent employment, you need to work with an agency that excels in temp-to-perm recruitment.

3. There Is a Lot of Paperwork Involved

Working with a temporary work agency can involve a great deal of paperwork at the start of the recruitment process.

As well as requiring an interview with the agency before you start (as mentioned above), the agency will also be responsible for all compliance protocols.

This means that you will have to submit details of your proof of identity, undertake a thorough background check and confirm that your qualifications/professional licenses are valid before you even begin the job search.

Additionally, you may find that registering with a temporary job agency means that you are bound by their terms and conditions.

This could prevent you from registering your details with other agencies whilst you are not actively working. This is something you need to check before you sign up.

4. You May Have to Have an Interview With the Agency Before You Start Work

If you are nervous about job interviews, you may be dismayed to learn that your temporary work journey will likely begin with a job interview with the temp agency.

You must take the time to prepare for the interview and consider it as an opportunity to practice and refine your interview technique.

You need to impress the agency to ensure that they think of you first when any new positions come up.

5. Registering With a Temp Job Agency Does Not Guarantee a Job

It is important to remember that just because you are registered with a temporary employment agency, it unfortunately does not mean that you are guaranteed work.

The temp agency is responsible for providing the most suitable applicants to their clients, so if you do not have the right skills for the short-term jobs that they are recruiting for, you may be unlikely to succeed.

How Long Will It Take to Get a Job Through a Temp Agency?

Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed time for how long it will take you to get a job through a temp agency.

Some people may be lucky enough to get an instant offer, others may have to wait for weeks or even months before something suitable turns up.

How to Make the Most of Your Temporary Job Agency

The best way to make the most of your temporary job agency is to be as flexible as possible.

Try to be prepared to work different shift patterns or make longer commutes. If you show that you are willing and able to take that extra step, the agency will recommend you to more employers above other candidates who may be a better match on paper.

Once you are in a temporary job role, make the most of your experience.

Every employer offers something new, whether it is new connections, new styles of working or an opportunity to add a reputable brand name to your resume.

Those who work hard and stand out, even on short-term contracts, will be remembered and stand a better chance of being chosen by firms who are looking to turn their temporary hires into permanent recruits.

Final Thoughts

This article will have helped you decide whether temporary working is right for you and how to make the most of temp agencies to boost your career.

Temporary contracts are a valuable part of the workforce and they offer ample opportunities to boost your career if you use placements strategically.

You should use your temp job agency as a resource to help you to get to where you want to be. This starts by being open and honest with them about your skills and your ambitions.

By taking the time to understand who you are as a potential applicant, they can help you find the right opportunities for you.


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