Temping in Toronto
February 11, 2014 12:14 PM   Subscribe

Tell me about temp agencies in Toronto. What are the best ones, how do they work, and how can I tailor my pretty specific skills to a more general employment audience?

I'm a video editor, and have been officially out of work for about a month. I'm applying to everything I can find, sending out cold emails, reaching out to friends/co-workers in the industry, and broadening my search somewhat, but job postings are few and far between and I've only had a few interviews that did not work out. EI is keeping me afloat, but the stress and boredom of unemployment is starting to wear me down. I need something, anything to get myself out of the house, making money and feeling like a human being again. I've just about reached the end of my cold contact and networking lists, and am going to broaden further out to looking at temp agencies next week. But I have no idea where to start or how to write a resume that is tailored to more general work. Like, an office job won't care if I know Final Cut or Avid or AfterEffects etc.

I definitely have transferable skills, I'm detail oriented, able to absorb a lot of information and cut it down to the most important, have experience supervising others, I'm a pretty decent writer and (text) editor, basic Microsoft Office skills, etc but I have no clue how to put all that into an appealing package.

So how does temping work? What are the good agencies in Toronto? Will they help me craft a resume, or do I need to come with one prepared? What exactly do I put on a resume when all my specific technical skills are limited to one industry they probably won't be dealing with anyway? I'm spinning my wheels a little and really don't know how to proceed.
posted by yellowbinder to Work & Money (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I was waiting in hopes someone with more local experience would answer, but I'll give some general advice where I can:

1. So how does temping work?

The agency will test you on a few things and talk to you about what you can and can't do, what you do and don't feel comfortable trying, and what you are and aren't capable of, and what you want to do overall careerwise. Then when they get a temporary job stint, if it's something they think you're capable of, they call and ask you if you're interested in taking it. They tell you the amount of money per hour it pays. You are paid by the temp agency, not the business you would be temping for.

Having general office skills (typing, filing, etc.) increases your chances of being sent out on more traditional office-monkey work, but they can work with you to figure out what you can and can't do - some agencies even have drop-in classes where you can use their computers to teach yourself software or typing. And once in a very great while you may find an agency that DOES place people in the kind of creative work you do; they do exist.

Your best bet is to sign up with a few of them and then check in every week when you have availability and see if they have anything. If you're new to them, they may keep you at arms' length at first for a couple weeks, so it's wise to take the first thing you think you can do when they offer it - that way you kind of get a reputation of being game for anything. They do try to keep your skill set in mind when they think of you, though, so they won't contact you for anything that is way out of your skill set.

2. Will they help me craft a resume, or do I need to come with one prepared?

A little bit of both. Do one up, and then ask for feedback when it comes to the kinds of gigs they get. They can make suggestions, and often do.

3. What exactly do I put on a resume when all my specific technical skills are limited to one industry they probably won't be dealing with anyway?

Mention them anyway, because a) they may get calls for that, and b) they may know how to spin your experience into other things. If you have any traditional office-monkey experience, though, mention that too.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:44 PM on February 11, 2014

If you've been an editor, I am guessing you have skills in dealing with customers/clients. That's a transferable skill! Also managing projects, meeting tight deadlines, multitasking, working with others etc. Right?

I suggest getting a friend to help you put together a resume that can highlight some of the best transferable skills you have. Its always hard to do your own resume - having someone else's eyes on it can make a big difference.

You might want to have a look at Craiglist/Kijiji for temp jobs without having to go through an agency.

Another idea is to check into registering with a personal concierge type of company - they sometimes offer interesting gigs.

Good luck!
posted by caroo at 4:25 PM on February 11, 2014

There used to be a temp agency that supplied people to temporary jobs at U of T: I worked for them for a year after grad school (before I started teaching) and found that the jobs were varied and entertaining, for bog-standard secretarial jobs.

Things have changed: it looks like U of T now runs its own temp agency:


It may be awful, but admin jobs in the academy are often interesting and usually good for self-starters.
posted by jrochest at 7:55 PM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

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