What are some good staffing agencies in Toronto?
May 25, 2009 2:01 PM   Subscribe

What are some good staffing agencies in Toronto?

I'm currently at my first full-time job - client service at a financial institution but I want out!

I found this directory of recruiters but it's not possible to match a firm by industry without buying their $50 book.

I've seen a lot of manufacturing, retail, labour, sales and customer service jobs offered through these agencies but I'm not interested in those...

Have you had success with a staffing agency when looking for a permanent (or temp-to-permanent) job with the government or a non-profit agency or a quasi-governmental organization?

Any experiences (positive or negative) welcome. Or, if I'm barking up the wrong tree, I don't mind hearing it.
posted by cranberrymonger to Work & Money (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Several of my friends have had good experience with PD Bureau.

But personally, in this economy, I would be a bit nervous hopping from a secure full-time gig to temping.
posted by jennyhead at 5:46 PM on May 25, 2009

Best answer: I have never worked in Toronto, let alone worked with a staffing agency in Toronto. But I've worked as a temp through staffing agencies across the world, so I'll try to answer your question more generally. I apologise for the length!

I'm not sure what kind of work you're looking to find, exactly. It sounds like you have an entry level job right now and don't really know what you want next. If you don't have a long resume and are willing to do general office work (reception, data entry, filing, etc.) that might lead to a permanent position, I always recommend OfficeTeam, a division of Robert Half. I've worked with them in four different cities in three countries and in every city they were the most professional agency I encountered and had the best gigs. Perhaps I've just been lucky, but I've had consistently great experience with them and some fairly poor experiences elsewhere. You have to be willing to do anything, and the first few jobs will probably be quite boring. But the upside is that you only work in a place for a day or a week or a month. When I did find somewhere that was looking to hire permanently (temp to perm, they call it), my new company immediately upgraded my duties and my job became much more interesting. It's my impression that many companies use staffing agencies and temp to perm positions as extended interviews, so if you really shine in the temp position you have a good chance of a permanent job, even if it's not the same as your temp role.

My recommendations for getting in the door at a temp agency:
1. Fill out all their online forms completely, including uploading a resume. If they ask questions that seem to repeat themselves, or ask for information that is on your resume, answer the question again. Say things five times if they ask for it five times. You must do this before you do the next step.
2. Call the office and say that you are a candidate and wish to speak to a consultant about scheduling an interview. They will ask you if you are registered online. You say 'yes', they say, "well, normally a consultant will call you if you're suitable, but let me see what I can do." The key to this conversation is to sound professional and snappy. Rehearse your opening lines a few times before making this call. You want to sound confident yet pleasant.
3. The receptionist will probably put you through to voicemail. This is okay. Leave a short, snappy voicemail with the relevant details (Full name, just registered online, looking forward to coming in for an interview, phone number, repeat name, repeat phone number). Make sure you rehearse this voicemail before you make your first call. Note the name of the person you are leaving a voicemail for.
4. Call one to three days later. Repeat step 2. Hope you get a different staff member's voicemail. If you do, leave your message again. Sound upbeat and confident and pleasant.

Usually by this point, I have started to get calls back. The consultant will call and ask you to email your resume over. Make sure you have a decent skills based resume. Temp work seems to care way more about all your awesome office skills than how many jobs you've had or how long you've had them. This works to your advantage if you are able to write a resume that highlights your many office skills. Think of every office type skill you've used in your job or part time jobs or volunteer gigs. Filing projects, organization, document management, word procession, databases, spreadsheets, phone answering. Take the best and most representative examples and put together a good one pager.

Once you get an interview, you need to get placed.
1. Rock the interview. Before you go, spend time relearning everything about MS Word and Excel. Go through all the lessons on these two sites. Practice with 2003, not 2007 (the agencies haven't updated their tests yet). Practice getting your typing speed up. Aim for 70, be happy with over 50 wpm. Wear a nice looking pressed suit. If you look presentable and act professional and rock the Word, Excel, and typing tests, you should be good to go.
2. Call first thing every Monday morning. Call every other day as well if you'd like. Tell the receptionist you are a candidate calling in your availability to your consultant "Mary" (whoever you interviewed with). Leave voicemails for your consultant, letting them know you're available and excited to work. Send emails to your consultant first thing in the morning letting them know you're available and excited to work.
3. Answer your phone. Be available to take an assignment on very short notice. The first assignment they place you in will likely be short term and really boring. This is your first assignment but also the second stage of the interview. They want to know that you can function in an office and show up on time and all that. You are more likely to get this first assignment if you are very available and willing to do anything. You are much more likely to get an actually interesting or well paying assignment once you've done your first assignment.
4. Do every job really well. Even if you are just entering phone numbers into a database in a corner in the basement, dress professionally, act professionally, work diligently. Treat every job as if it were an extended job interview. I've been offered jobs at companies that weren't looking to hire permanently at the start because they thought I had an awesome work ethic. Have an awesome work ethic. Even if you don't, anyone can fake it for a week or two.

And the best way to get a job through a temp agency is to register with, interview with, and bug many temp agencies. Aim for three to five. I'll advise you to include OfficeTeam, but that's my own personal bias. Do a google search for "staffing agency Toronto", "temp office Toronto", etc. and note down ten or so agencies that sound good to you. Start the process at all ten and aim to get in the door for an interview at at least three of them.

Best of luck getting a new gig. I think this could be a good path for you, since this was your first job and you're not sure exactly what you're looking for next. You'll get to try a few types of jobs in lots of different industries and environments and learn more about what you are looking for and develop your marketable skills. And hey, possibly get a permanent job!
posted by mosessis at 1:49 AM on May 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

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