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Temporary Employment Agencies

Learn about temporary employment agencies and how they work.

Temp agencies place job seekers in the medical, business and food industries. [©Jupiter Images, 2010]
©Jupiter Images, 2010
Temp agencies place job seekers in the medical, business and food industries.

Temporary employment agencies, or temp agencies, find employees to fill jobs on a temporary basis. Businesses may need temp workers to assist during a busy season, such as the holidays for retail companies or January through April for tax companies. Other businesses may hire temps to cover employees who are out on extended vacation or maternity leave.

Temporary employees are hired on a contract basis and are paid by the temporary employment agency. Some temp jobs are considered temp-to-hire, meaning that the job begins as a temporary assignment, but the company may eventually hire the employee after a specified time if the arrangement works out.

How Temporary Employment Agencies Work

Temporary employment agencies are available for job seekers in a wide variety of fields from administrative to technical. Often, they will work with job seekers with little or no relevant experience, explains CollegeGrad.com.

Temporary employment agencies strike a deal with the companies for whom they fill job positions, usually negotiating a fee of anywhere from 25 to 100 percent of the temp's salary, according to CollegeGrad.com. Temp assignments can be for a set length of time, or they can be ongoing and even turn into permanent full-time positions.

Once the temporary employment agency finds the job seeker a position, the temp agency becomes the candidate's official employer. The agency handles the employee's pay, benefits, taxes, timecards and other employment-related details.

How to Sign Up With a Temp Agency

Finding work through a temp agency offers a number of benefits to job seekers. Temp work offers a flexibility to those who may be interested in a particular field but don't want to commit to a permanent full-time position. Temping also allows an employee to try out an employer to see if the job and company culture is a good fit before going full-time. Some temp workers enjoy temping so much that they stay with one temporary employment agency and simply work short stints at each assignment.

Manpower, a temporary employment agency, employs 33,000 temps who work at 440,000 businesses worldwide. Many temporary employment agencies offer benefits to their full-time temps. Manpower offers its temps holiday pay, medical and dental coverage, life insurance and a 401(k) plan. Job seekers should inquire about benefits when evaluating a temp agency, since the company seeking to fill a position will rarely, if ever, pay benefits to their temp workers.

Applying to a temp agency is relatively simple. Many temporary employment agencies, such as Manpower and OfficeTeam have Web sites with online job-search engines. Job seekers simply need to enter their information and upload their resume and wait for the agency to get in touch with them.

The first contact from a temp agency is usually a phone call to set up an initial meeting. This meeting can take up to two hours and generally includes filling out an application, being interviewed and completing a skills test. The skills test is usually multiple choice and skill-based and monitors the candidate's adeptness at certain job skills, including:

  • Typing
  • 10-key
  • Accounting
  • Spelling and grammar
  • Customer service


After the initial interview and skills test, the agency attempts to match the candidate with open positions in his or her field. When a match is found, the agency lets the job seeker know and an interview may be set up with the hiring company. If that interview goes well, the hiring company may request additional information. These requests may include:

  • Background check
  • Drug testing
  • Credit check


If all goes well, the hiring company notifies the temporary employment agency that it wishes to hire the job seeker on a temporary basis. The agency negotiates all relevant details, such as length of the assignment, pay and starting date, and then calls the job seeker to offer the position.

Job candidates should dress conservatively when meeting with temporary employment agencies and the companies looking to fill a position. The agency's revenue is based on its success in filling positions, and it is more likely to succeed with candidates who look professional. It's helpful to bring along a resume describing job history, personal information, relevant software knowledge and education. Job seekers should also bring their drivers licenses and a day planner to write down available shifts.

Who should work for temporary employment agencies?

Temp work isn't for everyone. Many people prefer a more stable job situation than a temporary employment agency can offer. But for others, temp agencies are the perfect way to gain experience or get a foot in the door at a certain corporation.

Job seekers in the following fields have the highest probability of finding a job match through a temporary employment agency:

  • Light industrial
  • Maintenance and janitorial
  • Food service
  • Shipping and receiving
  • Clerical
  • Home health and hospice care


Not everyone should use a temporary employment agency to find work. For example, parents who need to secure child care for their children may not wish to work as temps. Temp work for many positions pays an entry-level wage, and this salary may simply be eaten up by day-care expenses. Also, temp workers are often paid less than their co-workers who do the exact same job, because part of their pay goes to the temporary employment agency.

If the temp agency doesn't offer benefits, temp workers will have to go without sick time, vacation time, 401(k) and medical benefits, unless they are offered a permanent position with the company. Many temp workers feel ostracized by the managers and their peers at the company. Managers are sometimes reticent about treating temporary employees like full-time staff, and temps may be excluded from meetings and company parties.

However, for job seekers who crave flexibility or a set ending date for an assignment, temping can be a wonderful alternative to full-time work. These job seekers can often get a foot in the door at their dream job by getting their start at a temporary employment agency.

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