When you start a new job, it's like diving into unknown waters. There may be sharp rocks just below the surface, or parasites, or sharks. How can you know what it's like to work there until you've accepted the job? The answer is: temp or fire escape hatches. Once you have gone through the interview process and likely a series of tests to determine your skills and abilities, the agency will do your job search for you, finding a job that is best suited to your skills. Certain companies may be regular clients, so the agency already knows the ins and outs of that particular place. You have the choice of asking them to place you in a permanent job, or a temporary job. While you are waiting for that dream job, why not consider working at a temporary position? Before dismissing the idea of working as a "temp", consider the benefits:

1. No interviews: The agency has more information about your potential job than what might appear in a newspaper ad, hence, no time-wasting, nerve-wracking interviews on jobs that pay too little or don't fit your abilities. You know in advance that your skills fit the job.

2. More options: The agency has access to a large number of positions that are never advertised.

3. No pay cut: Working for an agency does NOT mean a pay cut for you. The agency will pay a competitive amount for your services, and will notify you in advance of the rate depending on your qualifications. The company they send you to pays a fee to the agency for finding an employee.

4. Free job advice: After the agency reviews your resume and the results of your tests, they will likely advise you of the type of job that is best suited to your qualifications, and may suggest jobs you might never have considered.

5. Free salary advice: An agency has a good overview of the job market, and can advise you as to what you can realistically expect in terms of salary. It may be more than you think!

6. Pre-selected companies: Generally speaking, companies that regularly use agencies are companies with fairly large budgets.

7. Never get fired: Rather than hiring employees and having to fire them when they don't work out, which is not a pleasant task for most employers, some companies hire temps for a limited time period with the idea of trying them out on a temporary basis "test driving" them. If the temp doesn't fit their needs, the assignment ends, perhaps after a few weeks, with no one's feelings being hurt. If the temp meets their needs and is well qualified for the job, the company can then hire him or her on a permanent basis.

8. Recurring employment and call-backs: Companies that use agencies on a regular basis will generally take note of a temporary employee who performs well. They may specifically request this individual whenever a need arises: during the holidays; when a regular employee is on sick leave or maternity leave; when their workload gets backed up. This arrangement can be ideal for some situations, for example, a stay-at-home mother who needs additional income but is not yet planning to go back to work full time.

9. Someone on your side: The agency gets feedback from the temps on the conditions at work, and will make sure you are treated appropriately.

10. Short-term jobs: Even if the job doesn't turn out to be your dream job, it's only for a few weeks or months.

11. Free on-the-job training: While you are waiting for the agency to find a suitable permanent position, you will still be employed and keeping up your job skills. Working in a variety of work environments can mean acquiring new skills and training while being paid to learn.

12. An escape hatch: If the working conditions are really intolerable, you can contact the agency and explain the situation. In some instances the agency will be willing to let you leave the job immediately with no adverse repercussions.

13. Opening doors to a permanent job: Best of all, being a "temp" gets your foot in the door. You may start out at an entry-level position, but once you have proved yourself a hard-working, reliable, and qualified employee, companies very frequently hire temps for other, more advanced positions.

So next time you are facing a job search, why not contact an agency and test drive your new job before you start? It can open doors you never knew were there.

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