A Major Force. Temporary help agencies play an important role in the American workplace. They can be an excellent first stop for the newcomer to the American work-force. These agencies exist in nearly every field and income level, from general office work to skilled engineering consulting and computer programming.
The Concept is Simple. A company needs an employee for a special project, or to fill in when someone is absent on vacation. They don’t want to go to the expense, incur all the legal obligations, or do all the bookkeeping to hire somebody just for a short project. They call the “temp” agency. The temp agency sends them an employee and charges them, say, $30.00 an hour. The employee is actually an employee of the temp agency, which will pay, perhaps, $20.00 per hour.
Temp work is easy to get; just register with a few temp agencies. They will usually give you an office skills test. A temp assignment can last a day, a week, or longer. While temp workers lose out on certain benefits associated with full-time permanent work, like medical insurance and paid days off, they get to work on their own terms. They can say “no” to an assignment if they want.
Staying On. In many cases companies hire temps through an agency and then decide they like the person so much that they want them on their permanent payroll. So “temping” is an excellent way to break into the American world of work. It is a first step in beginning a network of contacts that leads to building a career. If you’re temping at a company, working hard and otherwise making yourself indispensable, you might be in a position to hand your resume personally to someone who already looks on you favorably.
Next Section:The Gender Gap
Making a Living: Chapter Home
Life in the USA Home Page.