Happy Tuesday guys! I debated even making this post, but after realizing what this day actually means to me, I figured it was meant to be done. July 25 marks one year that I have been a temp worker. Here’s the short story for how it started: after coming back from Michigan and feeling so defeated with applying to dozens of jobs with no response and burning through the last of my money to pay for gas so I could drive places, I signed with a temp agency near me to get me back on my feet. I’d heard both good and bad things about signing with an agency, but at that point, with about $40 in my bank account and a student loan payment coming up, I was desperate.
Almost serendipitously, I got a call two weeks later to be at my first job the next day. In one year, I have worked five different temp jobs of various durations, in different fields, doing mostly the same type of work. After a year, I’m ready to share my experience for anyone who may be thinking of signing with an agency.
I’m obviously going to start with the good things!
- Exposure. With working different temp jobs, you have an opportunity to find out what you want from a company as an employee. Do you like working in call centers talking on the phone all day? Do you like working in a fast-paced environment? Maybe you like being able to walk around and help people. Maybe you like sitting at a desk in front of a computer inputting data. Temp jobs help you understand the ins and outs of businesses and help you hone in on your strengths and competencies.
- Networking. You literally never know who you will meet at these jobs. I met my boyfriend at that first job. I never saw that coming. I met some of my good girlfriends at the call center job. I still have people I call on professionally from other jobs I worked. You get your name and face out there, and every hand you shake could be the difference between a great reference and a bad one.
- The chance for a full-time job. A friend of mine from high school signed with a temp agency and her second assignment was only supposed to be a week but they loved her so much that they offered to bring her on full-time. As a temp, you have the chance to really perform and make the bosses love you. It seems like they’re not taking much of a gamble with temp workers because there are no more administrative and labor costs, but they are taking a gamble with having to re-train over and over again. Every temp job you take, whether it’s for a week or a few months, could lead to full-time work WITH BENEFITS.
- The hours. Most temp jobs are on the standard workday time-table. Let me tell you firsthand how amazing it was to finally have weekends off and not work nights. I could come home, eat some dinner, and go to bed at a REASONABLE HOUR. I could go do things with friends and family! I finally felt like a normal person, and not a crazy person on an odd sleep schedule. So if you’re used to food and retail hours and never being able to make plans far in advance, welcome to the world of ROUTINE.
- Gaining new skills. With every temp job, I’ve been able to develop a new skill or refine an already existing one. My time management has gotten better, I have better problem solving abilities, I can lay out a budget for myself, learning how to talk to and interact with different people, you name it. No job is ever a waste of time.
- The chance to make great money. Some companies can afford to pay more, so you could make some sweet money. For one particular assignment as a receptionist, I got paid $14 an hour to do literally nothing but watch Netflix on my phone and occasionally transfer calls to other people in the company. Obviously those jobs are few and far between, but they do come around. Consider those your time-killing jobs to where you can keep looking for other jobs.
Now let’s get to the disadvantages…
- The lack of job security. With being a temp worker, you have zero job security. These places can end your contract without so much as a “We’re sorry, this just isn’t working out.” Two places ended my contract early and I had to find out on a phone call from my recruiters at 6 on Friday. Unless these places really need to fill a position or they just need a few projects taken care of, or if a health insurance company took on way more customers than anticipated and just needed warm bodies to get through Open Enrollment, these people have no obligation to keep you around, even for the length of time they initially proposed. With temp work, there are lots of broken promises and some bosses even lie to your face.
- You make less money. When you sign through a temp agency, there are placement fees that are taken out of your paycheck so the recruiters get paid. Some agencies can take as much as $4 every hour out of your paycheck. Most take less, but that’s still something to note. You also don’t get the paid holidays or other time off like the full time employees do. So, if you have to take a day off for a doctor’s appointment or anything else, you gotta find another way to make that money back. Last but not least, benefits. As a temp, unless you get benefits through your agency, you gotta pray you don’t get sick or hurt and need to go to the doctor because until you’re hired on full time, you don’t get benefits.
- You don’t get treated the same at the job. As a temp, you kinda get all the busy work dumped on you. Not to say that’s necessarily a bad thing, but you could feel treated like a second-class citizen in the process.
So obviously, there are many pros and a few cons to doing temp work. It’s in the name though: it’s ‘temporary’ work. It’s not meant to be a career. It’s meant to help you get back on your feet and make you some money while you find your next good job. I’ve been doing it for a year today, and I’ve had some great moments, including meeting my boyfriend and love of my life at the very first assignment, and I’ve had assignments that made me want to pull my hair out. Luckily I have a great assignment now where I’m appreciated, it’s close to my house, I love the people, and it’s generally just a great environment. Fingers crossed that this is the last temp job and it can become my full time job (until this blog does!)
If you find yourself in desperate need of a job just to pass the time, I would recommend seriously doing your research on agencies near you. I lucked out with mine because they are some wonderful people, but I’ve heard horror stories about other agencies. Make sure you read the fine print, ask questions about what you don’t understand, make a good first impression, and stay consistent!
With that, I’ll close with some questions:
- Have you ever done any temp work?
- What is your advice for those seeking temp jobs?
Everyone have a great rest of the week!