Rome, NY Sucks

But At Least We're Not Utica

Friday, July 08, 2005

Temporary Insanity

One of the 'professionals' at a temp agency pointed out the number of short term employments in my job history. Small wonder, since they were temporary assignments. This particular agency has not offered me one long term job, then criticizes me when I don't have any.

My story is kind of sad, but not particularly unique. I tried applying for direct hire jobs, but during an economic downturn, I got some interviews and no offers. I was then told about the temp agency route. My first assignment actually led to me getting hired by the company. Then they laid off half the company a few months later.

The temp jobs have been few and far between. Most of them are in Utica, since Rome is dead for jobs. I had to stop working at one job because my car couldn't make a long daily trip. You see, when you're poor, the car you buy is usually old. Your mechanics are cheap, but they can take weeks to look at it. And when you're a temp, they fire you if you can't show up for a couple of days.

I guess I could be a deadbeat full of excuses. Maybe I've squandered my chances at working some great $7 an hour job. I doubt it. I know people who are also doing temp and contract work. It's sweeping the nation and it's a sign of the future. Besides, the temp agencies aren't doing all that well. At least two of the ones I registered at have since closed.

Any of the smaller businesses in the area seem to think that hiring and training employees is too much of a hassle. Some places offer such physically damaging work that they need a steady supply of people who are not aware of the company they work for until they show up. All the companies pay a premium for it, too.

Most of the temp agencies don't like to talk about their markup. It's anywhere from 30-50% more than the employee wage. For some reason, a business would rather pay an agency $12 an hour to hire someone who just walked into a temp agency rather than interview a few people and pay them $7. That's not counting the 6% Social Security tax your employer pays. The temp agency is your employer. You don't get fired anymore, your assignment has 'ended.' And while they claim that any complaints about the 'client' can be brought to them, who are they going to side with? If you want to report illegal working conditions, are they going to side with the disposable worker of the business that pays for the agency's nice offices and new computers?

On these assignments, I usually get the "Why are you working here?" question. It makes sense. The assumption is that a four year technical degree has more use than covering up a hole on the wall. Having the question asked by the boss is especially amusing. My real answer would probably be "I don't see you advertising for full employees. That's why I'm temping. The end."

In my experience, temp-to-hire and temp-to-perm are illusions. A company hires a temp for two reasons. They have a small amount of work that needs to be done quickly or they're on such shaky financial ground that they don't want to have any more official employees that might feel that they deserve human dignity.

I'm going to issue a challenge. If anyone has good experience with experience, let me know. I could use a laugh.


  • At July 08, 2005 9:23 PM, Blogger Craig said…

    OK, I'm up for it -- don't know if you are.

    I too worked the "temp-scene" in the late 90s. It was a great gig and great job-getter until 2001.

    I finally re-wrote my resume something like this:

    1995 - 2001 - Visual Basic Consultant
    Gained experience on a variety of ... blah, blah, blah
    1995- 1997 - Project 1
    1997-1999 - Project 2
    1999-2001 - Project 3

    It had the effect of turning seemingly endless job changes into a semi-coherent series of "projects."

    You've probably already seen that tactic, but it was the best I found -- short of lying.

  • At July 09, 2005 2:49 AM, Blogger Martin said…

    Dont worry, you'll get through it one way or another. Im sure something will come up.


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