Temp employment 101

Temporary employees, or 'temps', fill a critical need in today's labor force.

Temporary employees, or "temps," fill a critical need in today's labor force. Temp agencies provide emergency and short-term labor for companies in the midst of a staff crunch or for large projects that demand more than a company's regular employee workforce can handle.

It's also a great way to get in the door and show a potential employer what kind of worker you are.

Although a majority of temp agencies staff administrative positions, temporary work is usually available for any type of career or job description. Temporary work often appeals to job seekers who are just beginning a full-time job search, who have relocated or who need the benefit of flexible work hours.

Things to keep in mind

  • When you register with a temp agency, you may be given a proficiency test. The agency will be your employer and usually will have contracts with the companies that put you to work.

  • As a temporary employee, you'll need to provide for your own medical benefits. Also, you should learn the temp agency's policy about leaving for a company that wants to hire you full-time.

  • Some temp agencies are seen as recruiting grounds for permanent positions, so it's a good idea to sign on with an agency that contracts with companies you might like to work for full-time.
Guidelines for choosing a temp agency

Find a list of temp agencies using Kudzu.com, then follow these guidelines to choose the right one for you.
  • Choose an agency that matches your career training.

  • Ask the agency for a client list and, if you have time, contact human resource representatives at one or more of the companies. Ask about the agency's track record.

  • Compare the average hourly rates temps are paid at various agencies.

  • Request references from clients.

  • If you sign on with an agency and don't have a smooth experience, feel free to switch. You should never feel obligated to stay with an agency that isn't fulfilling its end of the bargain. Remember, they work for you just as much as you work for them.

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