How do Temp Agencies Work? 9 Tips You Can’t Afford to Miss

As you respond to job postings, job ads, and check out job boards, you may have thought about applying for a job with a temp agencies, but not knowing how they work has stopped you from following through. Well fear no more! This article is a comprehensive guide to temp and staffing agencies so you can go into it with confidence.

A temp agency is a good place to start

A temp agency is a good place to start

1. What is the benefit of a temp agency?

Temp agencies (also called temporary agencies or staffing agencies) provide a service that is beneficial for both employers and employees.

Employees can go to a temp agency and generally find a job within a short period of time. It is also a possible way of getting a foot in the door for a full-time position.

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

Woohooo! Everyone benefits. But there is much more to it, and we have to go into more detail to answer the question, “How do temp agencies work?”

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

A temporary agency screens and interviews so many people so they can match them with jobs. The agency can place you in jobs with many different companies that the temp agency has contracts with. The contract describes what type of work they need done, what the prospective employee’s duties will be, and how much they will be paid.

Each temp agency has their own guidelines and different contracts with companies; therefore, the following information could vary from one to another.

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

When you walk into a temp agency, a staffing specialist will greet you and have you fill out an application/information sheet that helps to highlight your strengths. You should bring your resume if you have one. If you do not, some agencies will help you to create one. References for the type of work you are seeking and a background check are also generally required by the agency.


Get ready for the interview! Many are done over Skype as well.

Other than that, your interview at the temp agency is similar to an interview you would have when you apply directly to a company looking for a new employee. The staff member will ask you questions about your employment history, strengths and about circumstances under which you left previous jobs. Just be honest and have

 answers prepared for the potential questions.


Don’t stress over the interviews here. It is much easier to do well in these than regular interviews because most staffing companies always want to increase their pool of employees to choose from and want to help you improve your chances of getting a job through them.

Plus, it is less commitment and is less expensive for them to hire and let go of you than it is for a regular company.

Additionally, you may be asked to take tests to assess your skill level for the type of work you perform. For example, if one of your skills is typing, you will be given an exam to see how many words per minute you type as well as the accuracy. Another example that is very common is a Microsoft Office skills test, such as Word or Excel. Other tests may be required based on your specialty or industry. The temp agency uses the results of your tests to match you with jobs they have from different companies.

4. What will my schedule be like?

When you work for a temporary agency, they will usually call you when something in your area of expertise is needed. Alternatively, some temp agencies advise you to call them on a regular basis to check for available jobs.

Be prepared to answer these common questions about what kind of schedule you would like:

  • Are you available on weekends?
  • Do you want to work strictly days, nights or are you available anytime?
  • Is there a particular geographical area where you would prefer to work?

What will my schedule be like?

Temp schedules are unpredictable until you are on a project or job with a company. They may call you at any moment and on short notice to go for an interview at one of the companies they work with.


5. Do I have to sign a contract?

When you decide to work or a temp agency, you will almost always be asked to sign a contract. This contract basically states that you are affiliated with the temp agency and have certain restrictions with the companies that they introduce you to.

When they send you on a job, you cannot accept any other temporary or permanent position with the company without going through the temp agency. Should the company want to hire you permanently, they will pay the temp agency a certain amount to release you from your contract. This amount depends on the temporary agency and I will explain it later. (Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice)

Once you have finished this process and signed the contract, crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s, you now are able to be called for to work for a client of the temp agency.

6. 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.


Money, money, money, money … MONEY!!!

7. Is it better for the company to hire workers from a temp agency or independent contractors?

Companies get certain advantages from using temp employees through agencies, the burden of figuring and withholding employment taxes is taken away from them. In addition, they don’t have to worry about paying benefits, such as health insurance, unemployment, or vacation.

If a company hires an independent contractor, they pay them a certain amount for their services. An independent contractor typically works their own hours and days, does not use the employer’s equipment and is not trained nor told how to work by the person hiring them.

The company does not have to pay any payroll taxes for temporary workers. They enter into a contract with the temp agency. This contract states that the agency pays the employee. It also states that the temporary agency is responsible for payroll taxes for the temp.


How to Get a Job Through a Staffing Agency

Some job seekers don’t want to use a staffing agency because they think these agencies only provide entry-level, temporary jobs. Others think that agencies never provide benefits to workers. None of this is true.


A job seeker can use a staffing agency (also known as an employment agency or staffing company) to find a wide variety of jobs, including permanent jobs, in a number of industries. Staffing agencies hire everyone from entry-level workers to CEOs. Learn what a staffing agency is, and how to use one to find the right job for you.                                                                  

How a Staffing Agency Works

At a staffing agency, companies pay the agency to find employees for them. Job seekers can apply to specific jobs through the staffing agency, or can simply contact the staffing agency looking for a job. The agency interviews the job seekers and places them in appropriate positions. Typically, the agency then pays the selected candidate to work for the client company.

If the company decides to hire the job seeker permanently, the staffing agency will no longer pay the job seeker. The employee will instead be paid by the company.


There are many benefits to using a staffing agency to find a job. Some benefits include: 

It’s Free

Because the company (rather than the job seeker) is the client, you don’t have to pay to be considered for jobs at an agency.

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They Do the Job Searching for You

When you sign up to work with a staffing agency, they ask you about your skills and experience and let you know if they have a job that might be a good fit for you. You can also search for jobs on their internal job site. Often, they know of job openings that aren’t available on other job sites. It is a great way to get help finding job openings.

There Is Variety

You can find staffing agencies that specialize in almost any industry. You can also find different types of jobs within almost any staffing agency. Jobs range from very short-term positions (as little as a couple of weeks) to permanent positions.

There Are Often Benefits

Some staffing agencies provide benefits after employees have worked a certain number of days or hours. These benefits may include health insurance, a retirement plan, or even tuition reimbursement (or all three).

They Give You Feedback

Most staffing agencies provide you with feedback throughout the job application process. They might give you tips on how to revise your resume or provide advice on how to successfully interview. This kind of free feedback is invaluable.

Types of Available Jobs

Some people think staffing agencies only fill temporary secretarial and administrative jobs, but this is not the case. You can find a job in almost every industry through a staffing agency.

Some staffing agencies (including Kelly Services and Adecco) work with all kinds of companies, while others specialize in particular industries. Medical Solutions, for example, focuses on healthcare jobs. TEKsystems staffs companies with IT hires.

Agencies also offer jobs that last for varying lengths of time. These include:

Temporary Jobs

Companies often look for temporary hires to help during an employee’s absence or period of leave, or during a busy work period. Sometimes they hire temporary workers to complete a particular project. These temporary jobs range in length from a couple of weeks to many months.

Temp-to-Hire Jobs

Also known as temp-to-perm jobs, these positions begin as temporary jobs so that the company can get to know the employee on a trial basis. Then, if the company is happy with the employee’s work, they will likely hire him or her directly. While the staffing agency will typically pay for the worker during the temporary phase, the company will then take over paying the employee when he or she becomes a full-time hire.

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 Permanent Jobs

Some staffing agencies hire candidates for permanent positions at companies. In these situations, the agency works more like a traditional recruiter, finding, interviewing, and selecting candidates for the company. In this case, the company pays the agency a fee. If the company hires an employee, they pay for the employee.

Many agencies offer a variety of all three of these kinds of jobs, although some specialize. For example, Frontline Source Group focuses on hiring temporary workers.

How to Find the Right Staffing Agency for You

When you are looking for a staffing agency to work with, make sure you know the kinds of industries the agency deals with, and whether they offer temporary, temp-to-hire, or permanent jobs—or all three.


Check out the American Staffing Association’s online directory to find reputable staffing firms. You can search for firms in your area. You can also search by employment options (temporary, long-term, etc.) and industry.


When you interview with a staffing agency, feel free to ask questions. Ask about what benefits (if any) they offer, what kinds of jobs they typically fill, the industries they work with, and the average time it takes for a job seeker to land a job. The recruiter you work with is there to help you, so don’t be afraid to gather all the information you need.


Check into whether or not the agency has any services, such as workshops to help you develop skills or counselors who will help you with your resume and cover letter. If these are available, take advantage of them.


Also, keep in mind that you should never have to pay a staffing agency to help you find a job. Reputable staffing agencies are paid by companies, not by job seekers.


Working for Temp Agencies – Pros & Cons of Temping (Temporary Job)

How Temping Works

Temporary (“temp”) employment agencies find workers for companies that need people to fill in on a short-term basis. The company benefits because it doesn’t incur all the administrative costs of placing an ad, interviewing, and possibly training a new employee. It also saves by paying a flat hourly rate to the temp agency, which issues a paycheck to the temp and handles all the payroll withholding and benefits.

The temp agency finds workers and places them with the appropriate company, and the temp worker is on the job only as long as they are needed – it could be for a few days, a few weeks, or a few months. I know people with computer skills who have been temps at the same company for years.

The Good News

Here’s the good news: Temp jobs in the U.S. are on the rise, and experts interpret this trend to mean that employers are starting to think about hiring. The move to more temporary hiring indicates that employers are willing to try out potential candidates for permanent jobs. What this means for you is that working as a temp could very well blossom into a permanent, full-time job.

Choosing a Temp Agency

There are many different types of temp agency. Some specialize in a particular industry, such as computer technology or accounting. Others specialize in certain types of jobs, like administrative or managerial. Some even offer medical and vacation benefits. Check out several agencies before you decide which one to work with, and be sure to ask the following questions:

  • Do you charge a placement fee, or does the employer pay the fee?
  • How long is the typical time between assignments?
  • Do you provide any training?
  • Do you provide any benefits?
  • What is your job placement rate?

Don’t work with any agency that charges you a fee for placement. Most agencies collect their fees from the employer.

When you work with a temp agency, expect to be interviewed just as you would for any other job. You may also have to take a typing or computer skills test. Consider yourself lucky if the agency is willing to provide you with free training.

Working With Your Temp Agency

Once you settle on an agency to work with, you must sign a contract with them. Be sure to read all the fine print, and ask questions about anything you don’t fully understand.

Under the contract, you agree to become an employee of the temp agency. Any offers of work, either temp or permanent, must go through the agency. Don’t assume that you can make your own connections and subvert the agency to get a job.

Working With Temp AgencyAdvantages of Temping

1. Gain Exposure
Temping gives you the opportunity to see what different company cultures are like and what you prefer as an employee. Do you thrive in a fast-paced environment? Do you enjoy sitting at a desk? Do you like working with the public? Now is the time to discover what you’re good at and what you really want out of a job.

You can also learn about career fields you might not otherwise be exposed to. For example, I once temped at the office of a medical society and learned about a unique medical specialty I had never previously heard of. This type of exposure could make all the difference when choosing your future career.

2. Make Contacts
As a temp worker, you’ll be represented by an agency with more contacts than you could ever develop on your own. Furthermore, the agency has the inside track on who’s hiring and what they’re really looking for. When you work with an agency, you come with a seal of approval and are well ahead of the applicant off the street.

3. Transition Into Permanent Employment
Once you’re on the job as a temp, the employer gets a chance to see you shine. Don’t be surprised if what started out as a week’s assignment turns into a permanent job offer. When that time comes, you’ll know if this is a company that you want to stay with long-term. You don’t have to accept the offer but if you do, be sure to let the temp agency know.

4. Enjoy Flexibility
Most temp jobs are 40 hours a week while they last, and when your assignment is over, you can take some time off if you’d like. Just be sure to maintain enough of a presence in the job pool to keep the temp agency interested in working with you. If you keep disappearing from sight, they might decide that you’re just too flaky.

5. Gain Skills and Experience
I’ve met several people over the past few years who have been laid off from their jobs and are now trying to move onto a more lucrative career. Taking courses at your local community college or adult education school will teach you new skills, but nothing teaches you as well as personal experience.

For example, you could take a QuickBooks course at a local community college. And because QuickBooks is used by about 95% of small businesses in the U.S., you will probably get plenty of placements where you can further hone your QuickBooks expertise and gain ancillary experience and expertise in the process.

A combination of classwork and on-the-job experience is the ideal way to prepare yourself for a new line of work. If you can prove to the temp agency that you have some basic skills, they will very likely place you in jobs where you can work under supervision and further enhance your skill set.


There’s a downside to everything, and that includes temping:

  • You may feel isolated
  • You may be treated like a second-class citizen on the job
  • There is a lack of certainty about income
  • You may not have health insurance, a pension plan, or paid vacations

There aren’t very many disadvantages to temping – but if you like the security of a regular job and the camaraderie of a consistent circle of coworkers, you may find temping to be a disappointment.

Disadvantages With Temp AgencyFinal Word

Temping isn’t for everybody but it could help you gain visibility in a crowded and uncertain job market. Plus, it will keep you from having unsightly gaps in your resume. And if you’re reentering the workforce or just entering the job market, a temporary job could be one of the few ways to get your foot in the door to a permanent position.

Have you tried temping? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you experiences first hand?

5 Reasons to Use a Staffing Agency to Hire Temps

When a company needs to hire temporary employees on a short-term, long-term or intermittent basis they have a few options. They can place ads, contact recruiting agencies for full-time staff, or call a temp staffing agency. The third choice is the one that offers the most benefits when temporary workers are needed.

Here are five reasons why companies and businesses can benefit from using a temp staffing agency.

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Reduced Costs

The recruitment and training process is costly. Businesses have to develop a vacancy announcement and advertise in print and/or online media platforms. The business answers questions regarding the position, collects and reviews resumes, schedules and conducts interviews, assesses applicants, checks references, and conducts background checks. They then have to train and orientate the employee. All of these activities take existing staff away from their regular duties. The business also has to process payroll, handle taxes, and is responsible for unemployment, workers compensation, and any liability claims.

Using a temp staffing agency eliminates all of these costs. The agency determines the needs of the business and develops advertisements and manages job postings, and handles all aspects of the hiring, onboarding, and HR process. The business simply pays the agency which is responsible for all tax deductions and WSIB claims.

Specialized Expertise

Just like a juggler, businesses have numerous balls or responsibilities they must keep in the air all day long. They touch each ball over and over again, but they never spend a lot of time holding one ball because the other ones would fall to the ground. Staffing agencies are different. They have only one ball on which they are focused – placing the right person in the right job. Businesses using temp agencies benefit from this commitment to one set of responsibilities and the resulting specialized expertise.

Reduced Training Costs and Time

The recruitment process of a staffing temp agency is lengthy and can be more involved than internally-managed recruitment processes. They assess the current skills of an applicant, but they take the process one step further. They can provide training that strengthens existing skills and develop their workers in new skills. When a staffing agency employee starts at your business they should have very little need for extra training and be well-prepared to hit the ground running.

Increased Productivity

A staffing agency does not always have to recruit for every position that they are contracted for. They typically have pre-screened qualified workers ready and willing to work with little notice. If the staffing agency can place a skilled employee in your vacant position within a short period of time, perhaps in hours or a day or two, you never have to worry about tasks not being completed in time. And current staff do not have to step up and be burdened by taking on additional responsibilities reducing their productivity.


Staffing agencies do not place any restrictions on the use of their employees. Businesses can hire temporary workers in any capacity, for whatever timeframes they desire. You may need someone to fill in for a maternity leave, provide additional help during a busy holiday season, cover off emergency sick leave, or step in with added manpower during an unexpected project. Whenever you need them, a staffing agency and their talented employees will be there.

Businesses are often surprised to find out how many benefits temp agencies can bring to their operations that strengthen.