Your Ultimate Guide to Temp Agencies (And What To Watch Out For!)

Apr 28, 2019

Beginners Guide to Temp Agencies

Temp agencies can be godsends for people who need employment quickly but don’t want to go through the process of spending weeks applying for a job. Many temp agencies give employees the ability to choose from several different jobs in their field, offer flexible hours, and let you start work right away!

With so much to love about temp agencies, it’s clear why people of all walks of life are using them on a regular basis. Let’s take a deep dive into what you can expect from your temp agency, how to make the most of your temporary employment, and what red flags you should be on the lookout for!

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Working For A Temp Agency

If you have questions about working at a temp agency, we have answers!

When you enter your new job armed with the information that we’ve laid out here, you’re better equipped for success. One of the most important tips to make the most of your temp job is to give your all to stand out from the pack.

Additionally, you should understand the details of how temp agencies work.

Let’s say that you’ve landed your dream temp job and you can’t wait for the company to see how amazing you are and hire you on a permanent basis! How do you stand out in a sea of employees? Familiarize yourself with going above and beyond and you’ll already be light-years ahead of everyone else.

What Do Employment Agencies Do?

At their core, all employment, recruitment, and temp agencies are the same. They find employees who fit with their clients’ needs. The more specialized the field, the more difficult the agency’s search generally is.

The thing that makes them different is that all of them have a vetting process that they use to identify which employees would be good fits. We will delve deeper into what that process entails later on in this section.

Why Use A Recruitment Agency?

Recruitment Agency Purpose

Recruiters differ slightly from temp agencies because they are generally looking for employees with specific skill sets. You can contact a recruiter directly, or they can find you online. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that you have a visible resume and an updated and optimized LinkedIn profile online.

Recruitment agencies pass along their charge to the client so you generally will not have any upfront costs when doing business with one. Ultimately, they will sell you to the company which makes working with one a safer bet than interviewing cold. It’s their job to ferret out good employees, so if they vouch for you, you’ll know that you have a good shot of getting in the door!

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Temp Agency?

A huge benefit of using a temp agency is starting at your new job right away. For those who are between jobs or need some income to bridge the gap, this is an enormous plus!

Additionally, you’ll get to see what different company cultures are like and learn what you like and don’t like about office environments. Temp agencies also have the ability to stretch your comfort zone by putting you in roles that you might not have envisioned for yourself. This way, you could find a new skill or job that you absolutely love!

You will also be able to do some networking. According to Alison Doyle of The Balance Careers, networking is one of the best ways to jumpstart your career and put you on a path for continued success. You can also work flexible hours and even get permanent employment if you want to.

Why Do Employers Hire Temporary Workers?

There are plenty of benefits that employers get from working with temp companies. They know that quality agencies will vet the prospects and provide them with only the best candidates. Additionally, they know that if they’re in a pinch and need to hire people quickly, temp agencies are the way to go.

Employers can also monitor the performance of their temp employees without worrying about the ramifications of firing a staff member. Since temp employees are ultimately working for their temp agency, not the end-employer, the companies that they’re temping at can rest easy that if they want to hire them permanently they can. If not, they can always ask the temp agency for different prospects.

How Much Does It Cost To Use A Recruitment Agency?

If you are an employee, recruitment agencies don’t usually cost anything. It’s a red flag for one to try to charge you. Your employer does incur a cost from recruitment agencies. They usually will wind up paying around 20 percent of your salary for the first year.

This fluctuates and is negotiable between the recruitment agency and the employer. Ultimately, employees do not have to worry about the cost because they won’t see any difference in their paycheck!

How To Choose Your Perfect Recruitment Agency?

Comparing Different Recruitment Agencies

If you opt to go with a recruitment agency there are plenty of things that you should keep in mind. Have a crystal-clear objective and look for recruitment agencies that mirror your career goals. Think about your employment trajectory. Are you looking for temporary or permanent work’ What are your salary requirements? Are you willing to relocate?

Remember, you are in an advantageous position especially if your skillset is unique. You can afford to be picky. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want!?

Do Temp Agencies Take A Cut Of Your Pay?

Temp agencies take a cut of your pay right off the top, so you won’t even notice the difference. They bill the employer for the cost of finding you. If you are hired as a permanent employee, you’ll likely see a bump in pay.

Why Do Temp Agencies Take A Cut?

Temp agencies incur the cost of finding and vetting temporary employees. That means that they need to conduct interviews, do background checks, call references, and run drug screenings. For certain specialized work, like medical billing or research, they might need to make sure that employees are HIPAA compliant or up to date on other certifications. Since it takes a lot of administrative work to get you in the door, temp agencies will take a cut.

How Long Is A Temp Agency Contract?

Temp Agency Contract Time Frame

Temporary contracts will vary in length and the agency should tell you the length of the contract up front. It’s fairly uncommon for contracts to last more than a few months, although it does happen from time to time.

If you are unsure of the timeframe that your contract covers don’t be afraid to ask!

How Do Temp Agencies Make Money?

Temp agencies make money but taking a percentage of their temporary employee’s salary from the end employer. They work with a base of clients to who they continually send temporary workers.

Can I Quit A Temp Job?

You can quit a temp job but make sure that you do it in a respectful manner so you don’t burn any bridges. According to Áine Cain, Business Insider contributor, it’s crucial to quit your job in a way that makes you look totally professional.

If you are working through a temp agency, quit your job by contacting the representative at your agency and giving them a standard two-week notice. They might not require you to work the full two weeks, but it gives them enough time to find a replacement. Also, you might need to revisit that agency for temp work in the future and you want to leave a favorable impression with them!

What Does A Temp Do In An Office?

A better question might be “what doesn’t a temp do in an office?”. Temps are hired for many different roles from administration to management. They can come in for a few days to cover sick leave or work indefinitely in a position. They are expected to immediately adapt to office culture and pick up the details of their jobs right off the bat.

According to Lorna Faires of Liberty Staffing, temp employees don’t have an easy task. Ultimately what sets apart the good ones from the bad ones is a mix of punctuality, accountability, productivity, and motivation. Even if you don’t get all of the details of your job right away, being eager to learn and dedicated to success will set you apart from the pack.


Find out more about how ShiftPixy can help you rock work-life balance.

What Should I Wear To A Temp Agency?

Temp Agency Dress Code, Ideas and Tips

According to Forbes Contributor Ashira Prossack, dressing to impress is key. If the company dress code calls for business casual, try to be more business formal.

Make sure that your clothes are always neatly pressed and clean. Pay attention to your grooming. Women might want to wear long hair up in a sleek bun or a smart ponytail. Men should have their facial hair groomed. Your fingernails should be clean and trimmed.

It’s advisable to wear little or no perfume to a new job. You might think that you smell amazing, but many different scents can come across as overbearing to others.

Can A Temp Job Become Permanent?

Temp work can often become permanent! This is especially true of positions that are open-ended. If you do a good job, the employer is likely to hire you.

How Long Can You Be A Temporary Employee?

All temporary contracts are different, but if the position is open-ended, most employers will make the move to hire you permanently within a few months. Generally speaking, you will be evaluated and made an offer.

It’s completely okay to ask the temp agency if the position you’re applying for has the possibility of permanent employment. Good temp agencies will be transparent about their policies and let you know right off the bat what to expect.

Do Temp Agencies Do Background Checks?

According to Andrea Collatz of TransUnion, background checks cover a variety of different bases and give the temp agency a window into your past, and any red flags that come with it.

It’s standard to do a criminal background check, but some temp agencies will also look at your credit history.

Do Temporary Workers Get Benefits?

Temp workers will not get benefits through their end employer, but they could get them through their temp agency. It’s really up to the agency that you’re working with. Before signing any contracts, it’s advisable to ask about healthcare benefits.

Do Temporary Workers Get Sick Pay?

Just as with healthcare benefits, sick pay varies from agency to agency. Occasionally you’ll find that you can accrue sick, vacation, and personal days if you’ve been with an agency for long enough.

Sure-Fire Signs Of An Amazing Temp Agency

How can you find the best temp agency for you?

Look For Agencies That Respect Your Time

Do you have a meeting with a recruiter at 3 pm, but find yourself sitting around waiting until 4:30? It’s understandable to have people run behind once in a while, but if you feel like the agency is not respecting your time, that’s a huge red flag. If your recruiter doesn’t value a face-to-face meeting, how will he or she deal with any client issues or payroll concerns? Look for an agency that shows you the proper respect.

Find An Agency That Values Skill Set Matching

Matching Skill Set to Jobs

The best temp agencies know that in order to have a successful relationship with both their temps and the end-employer, they have to match up skillsets accordingly. If your recruiter pours over your resume and finds a job that suits your skillset perfectly, that’s a big sign that they respect you and their clients.

Sloppy agencies can try to force square pegs into round holes. This just sets you up for failure and irritates the client.

Transparency Is Key

The best temp agencies will let you know what to expect right off the bat. They will not blindside you with job responsibilities that were not originally covered, or switch up your hours without warning. They know that in order for you to do your best work, you have to understand exactly what is expected of you and how your performance will be measured.

Red Flags That A Temp Agency Isn’t Above Board

There are some temp agencies that you should run far away from. Do you know what red flags to look for?

Disrespectful Staff

Being bullied or pressured into taking a job that you’re not comfortable with is a giant red flag. Good agencies will never force you to do anything that you don’t want to do. If someone is putting undue pressure on you, or disrespecting your time and talents, consider what their motivation could be. Generally, it comes down to desperation, disorganization, or lack of professionalism.

They Have A Terrible Reputation

Recruitment Agencies Reviews

Sure, you can write off one or two disgruntled reviews from past employees, but when everyone is warning you to stay far away from a temp agency you should probably take notice. These days it’s easy to find out any information that you want about a company online.

If there is something that jumps out at you, don’t be afraid to bring it up with the temp agency. It’s possible that they’ve corrected the problem. If they get defensive about it, that’s another red flag to watch out for!

The Temp Agency Is Vague About Responsibilities And/Or Payroll

Trust us, this one is a doozy! Shady companies will be vague about your responsibilities because they want to stack on more duties after you’ve signed on the dotted line. They might hire you for a position at one job site and move it without warning. They also might hire you for a temporary job but fail to mention that there are plenty of other elements included in it. A classic example of this is when a company hires you to perform an administrative job, like managing an office, and also requires you to watch the reception desk after hours.

If the temp agency is vague about payroll, watch out! You should know exactly when and how much you are getting paid for your work. Never offer to work on a trial basis without compensation. If you have any questions about payroll you should ask them immediately and press the temp agency for answers if they’re vague.

If you walk into a temp agency and get a bad feeling, consider the fact that there are plenty of others that you can get employment through! Trust your gut and realize that if something seems off, it’s probably because it is!

Quick Checklist Of Ways To Set Yourself Apart From The Pack

We’ve already offered a ton of good advice about turning that temp job into a long-term career opportunity. In addition to what we’ve covered, give these other suggestions a try!

Try being nice and optimistic.

It sounds simple, but when you think about it there’s a lot of negativity swirling around the workplace. People want to work with those that they like. By simply being pleasant and resisting the urge to complain about everything, you’ll be showing that you’re someone who can inject a little sunshine into the office environment. If you’re the kind of person that others want to be around, you’re one step ahead of the competition!

Bring your best every day.

Happy Employee at Work

Prove how much you love your job by always striving to be your best every day. Complete each task to the best of your ability, and remember to underpromise and overdeliver. Dress for success and show your employer that you take your job seriously.

Don’t make excuses or pass the buck.

If you make a mistake, own it. There’s nothing worse than passing the buck to someone else because you don’t want to take accountability for your actions. Your managers know that everyone makes mistakes, but they don’t like when you won’t confess and make good on your promises to be better next time. Instead of shrugging off responsibility, reflect on what you did wrong and come up with an actionable plan to correct your behavior in the future. This will show your manager that you have accountability and self-awareness and will certainly set you apart from others!

Commit yourself to arrive at work fifteen minutes early.

Arriving late to work looks bad. Even if you have the best excuse in the world, you’re still showing that you don’t care about the job enough to leave your house in plenty of time. That being said, traffic jams and emergencies are things that happen, so prepare yourself for the inevitable by arriving at work fifteen minutes early every day. On days when you hit a snag, you’ll have a little extra buffer of time to get into the office when you’re supposed to be there. On days when things are running smoothly, you’ll be able to solidify your to-do list and prepare a coffee before your shift starts. Either way, you win!

Be a team player.

Great Team Player at Work

Being a team player means that you work for the best outcome without seeking to reap personal accolades. It means that even if you have a personal conflict with someone on the team, or feel like they’re not working to their potential, that you’re willing to pick up the slack to do what’s best for the company. Employers know who their weak links are. If someone is not pulling his or her weight, your boss is already on it. What they will see is you stepping up to fill in the gaps. This will show that you’re a superstar employee!

Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn.

On the same token, you need to step up and take credit for the things that you’ve done. If you close a really important deal, let your boss know about it. If you get a client compliment don’t be afraid to pass it on. Make sure that you’re not doing this in a boastful fashion, but walk the line between bragging and self-promotion.

How do I self-promote without bragging?

  • Lift up others as you lift yourself! If you and another employee took the lead on a big project, mention them in conjunction with yourself.
  • Self-promote during appropriate times. Don’t interrupt an unrelated meeting to talk about your latest achievement. Timing is everything.
  • Frame your self-promotion in an optimistic lens. Use the story of your self-promotion to highlight something that the company is doing right, or give your boss a way to use it to promote the department overall.

Working at a temp agency can be a big boost to your career. Knowing how to navigate agencies effectively, what to look for in a great agency, and how to stand out from the crowd are some great ways to make the most of your experience at a temp agency.

As with everything else, it is what you make of it!


Find out more about how ShiftPixy can help you rock work-life balance.