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You've picked an agency - now you have to apply for a spot on the team. It's not as easy as just walking in unemployed and being handed a job (or, placement in temp jargon). The people at the agency have to decide whether they want you to represent their company.
Make an appointment at the agency and prepare yourself accordingly. "Be professional and dress as if it's a 'real' interview," said Jacqueline Johnson, who has more than 10 years of experience temping in Washington, DC, Boston, Mass., Nashville, Tenn., and Northridge, Calif.
Bring a resume with a detailed work history and contact information for references. Although agencies definitely look at candidates' work history and skills to determine a proper fit, the interview is considered the key to getting a good placement. The career counselors who conduct the interviews are usually the same people who decide what assignment you'll be offered. Strive to make a good first impression - it can only pay off in the long run. "I've established a rapport with the counselors," said Johnson. "They look out for you, get you the best jobs and the best pay."
Communicate your interests to the agency
If an agency doesn't seem to be interested in your preferences, share your concern or look elsewhere. You want to avoid getting an assignment that is neither enjoyable nor lucrative. As a temp, Scott Verrastro learned the hard way about the importance of communicating with the agency. "The first agency I registered with hardly ever tried to find me a job, and never actually asked what I want to do, or what might be good for me," he said.
Trained in music literature, Verrastro had been looking for something in the music industry or journalism. So he left that agency after a few days of mind-numbing data entry. The second agency he registered with did much more legwork - they asked him more detailed questions and quickly found him a suitable position. He has been on that assignment for nearly a year.
After the interview come the tests
"One of the drawbacks is the paperwork and extensive testing," said Johnson. "It's three or four hours the first time you go in. But once you get past that, it's cool." However, most agencies use the same computer-based test, so you may become a point-and-click pro after a day or two of interviewing at agencies.
Ask questions and read the fine print
Also, find out what benefits your agency offers. Do you receive vacation pay after a certain number of hours? Is there a health insurance program? A 401(k)? Not only does understanding your responsibilities and benefits help you make the most of your temporary employment, it can also provide you with insight into your professional goals.
- Regina Robo, Salary.com News Editor
Copyright 2000-2004 © Salary.com, Inc.
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