How do Temp Agencies Work? 7 Common Questions Answered

While spending hours navigating through job boards and online postings, you may have thought about applying for a job with a temp agency, but not knowing how they work may have prevented you from submitting your application. I’m here to assure you that working with a temp agency (also called temporary agencies or staffing agencies) can benefit you in numerous ways. Here are 7 common questions asked by employees about how the world of staffing works!

1. What is the benefit of a temp agency?

Employees can go to a temp agency and generally find a job in a short period of time. It is also a way to get your foot in the door for a full-time position or to gain experience in a particular field.

Employers can get a position filled temporarily so that the work is getting done effectively and efficiently while they search for a more permanent employee.

2. What should I expect when applying to a temp agency?

Like any job, you will first have to apply online or in-person so that an agency can screen and interview you to ensure that you are matched with the appropriate job. The agency can place you in jobs with numerous companies that they have contracts with. The contract describes what type of work they need done, what the prospective employees duties will be and how much they will be paid.

3. What should I expect in my interview or visit?

Usually you will set up a meeting with a recruiter and fill out an application/information sheet that highlights your strengths and weaknesses (sometimes you will do this online prior to meeting with a recruiter). You should bring your resume if you have one. If you don’t, most agencies have career services and can help you create one. Most agencies also require that you give them 2-3 references so that a thorough background check can be completed.

Your interview at the temp agency is similar to an interview if you were to apply to a company directly. The recruiter or staff member will ask you questions regarding your employment history, strengths and weaknesses and about circumstances under which you left your previous employers.

Additionally, you may be asked to take tests to assess your skill/strength level for the type of work you wish to perform. For example, if you are applying to be a typist, you will be given an exam to see how many words per minute you can type associated with accuracy.

4. What will my schedule be like?

When you work with a staffing company your schedule can vary drastically depending on your own preferences and what has become available. Often times, temp schedules are unpredictable prior to being placed and they may call you at any moment and on short notice to go to an interview for a contracted company. If you can’t work on weekends, or work nights, speak up and let them know your schedule constraints.

5. How does the pay work?

The temp agency is responsible for paying the workers they send to a company. They charge the company a set amount per hour from which they take a percentage. The temp agency is also responsible for collecting taxes from the temporary worker’s pay. All of this is specified in the contract that the company has with the temp agency.

For example, if a temp worker is paid $15 per hour, the company for which they are working may actually be paying $25 per hour for their services. The temp agency keeps the extra $10 per hour of the pay. The markup is typically 50% to 100%, and is 66% in this example

6. What if the company I temp with wants to hire me full time?

If your skills are matched well enough to the company where you are working as a temporary employee, you may be fortunate enough to be offered permanent employment with that company. The company’s human resources manager will contact the temp agency where you’re employed and inform it that they want to hire you.

Some temp agency clients may actually use the agency to test a worker before deciding whether to hire them or not. When they decide they want to do so, the temp agency releases you from its employment, freeing you to work for your new employer.

7. Use all temporary jobs to expand your network

Now that you know how a temp agency works, you should feel more confident about updating your resume, putting on a professional outfit and visiting several temp agencies in your community. Don’t forget, while working jobs through a temp agency, expand your network and meet as many people as you can in your industry.

Also view our related blog on how to get the most out of your staffing agency!