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You and Your Possible Services

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The key to happiness in your life as a temp is building a good relationship with your temporary service. It’s a partnership. The temporary service needs you to make it look good to its client company, and you need your temporary service to keep you busy when you want to work. But finding the right service isn't as easy as closing your eyes and sticking a pin in the Yellow Pages. Different services have different personalities, and you owe it to yourself to be finicky. Shop around and see what's out there before you make your decision. Right now, temporary help firms are begging for people. They have more orders than they can fill, and a good temporary employee is a highly marketable commodity

Give the same time and consideration to finding a temporary employer as you would a permanent one. After all, it will be your new "boss." There are over 7,000 services nationwide, and they not only have different corporate personalities but they also serve vastly different markets. If you are a secretary, you do not want to waste time talking to services that specialize in warehouse personnel. There are national firms that have branches or franchises around the country. Names that might be familiar to you include Kelly, Olsten, Manpower, Adia, Western, and Norrell. There are also large privately owned firms with multiple offices, and there are smaller local services whose owners may operate at a single location or several in nearby areas.


Check out your Sunday paper

Look in the recruitment classifieds under Temporary Help. What do you see? Many of the ads share common de nominators: the use of terms such as "high rates" "long- and short-term assignments", "bonuses " "free training" and "great benefits." Most ads indicate their area of specialty, e.g., word processing or industrial. Some newspapers have separate sections for temporary services, and they may not be listed alphabetically. Also be sure to check headings of skill areas (such as customer service, paralegal, or programmer).

Look in the phone book

Surprise! You will not find prospect firms under "Temporary Services." Instead, look under the heading "Employment Contractors-Temporary Help." Review the ads in Figure 1. Which ones appeal to you?

Ask your friends for recommendations

The best way to find a quality service is always through a referral. If you know someone whose firm hires temporary help, find out which service(s) the firm uses. Is the firm happy with that service?

Hint: If you will be using temporary employment in order to obtain a permanent position, review the "Employment Agency" section of the classified ads and telephone directory. Pay attention to which agencies also operate temporary services: Working with one of them might expedite your search and make your parting, once you find what you are looking for, a little bit easier.

Did you review what the ads in our sampling say? How do they compare with the ads in your newspaper? Notice how they target special audiences and skills. Be sure you’ve taken an inventory of your own current skills; then you can target your services.

Call your prospects

Many temps omit this step, and it is a mistake to do so. Call the service even if their ads indicate that no appointment is necessary. How are you treated? This is an all-important clue to how you will be treated forever after. Once a service meets you and begins sending you on assignments, your only contact with them may be by telephone. So pay attention.

Are they courteous, efficient, and friendly?

Hint: During your call, ask when payday is. Why? Payday is not a good day to interview with a prospective service; it is usually very hectic. However, it is a great day to do some detective work. Visit their offices, even if it’s only to pick up their literature. Go around noontime. As their temps arrive to pick up their checks, notice how they look. You should consider them your coworkers. Even though you may never share an assignment, you do share a service. The appearance and attitude of a service's temps say a lot about the service. You might even ask one or two if they like working with the firm.

Do your homework

In every market there is a need. You learn this need by reading classified advertisements and the business section of your largest local daily paper. Local industry will dictate what types of positions are most in demand. For example, a university town often requires an abundance of clerical help, particularly data processing; a high-tech area has a need for technical professionals; and a community with a large health-care facility may need a steady supply of medical temps.

How do your current skills compare with what is in demand? Take a personal inventory of your talents. What do you qualify for? This is an area many temps neglect. You can't go to a service and expect miracles. For instance, if you are looking for office assignments, don't expect $10 an hour if you type with two fingers. Expect to be paid what your skills are worth.

Hint: We encourage you to be open-minded about clerical assignments. We meet many people, particularly recent college graduates, who have a snobbish attitude about typing. It has been our experience that this is a foolish tack to take, especially if you are looking for a permanent job at a hard-to-get-into employer or in a glamour industry (advertising, publishing, television, public relations, and so forth). Competition is heavy for top companies, and just getting in is half the battle. Why not accept something to get your foot in the door, rather than hold out for a dream assignment that may never come? Our advice is never to be ashamed to admit you can type; in this era of the keyboard, it is an asset rather than a hindrance.

After you have determined the markets greatest needs and how you meet these needs, verbalize-out loud-why you want to temp and what fields interest you. Practice this in front of a mirror. Be able to answer (1) why you want to temp; (2) what your ideal assignment would be; (3) how long you plan to temp; and (4) any special preferences you may have (e.g., no work on Mon days or long-term assignments only). Your personal interview with the temp service is going to be critical in determining where they will send you. If you are articulate and appear to have a sense of self, you will gain the service s confidence earlier than most temps.
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