D.C. temp agencies
November 9, 2006 5:07 AM   Subscribe

Recommendations for D.C.-area temp agencies? Bonus points if you've had good experiences with one that led to a permanent job at a corporation, foundation, or non-profit.
posted by hazelshade to Work & Money (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Understand, first, that temp agencies do not work for you. They work for businesses, which pay them a percentage of your wage above what is paid to you. Your agent gets a small cut of that, in addition to a usually meager salary--or sometimes no salary at all.

It is of course in the agent's best interest to place a qualified candidate in the job and negotiate the highest wage possible. But as with most commission jobs, your experience will vary widely with the agent.

I recommend calling as many as you can and registering with each. Most won't send you any work. Some will send work but their agents will suck. One or two will be pleasant to deal with.

If you have a bad experience with one agent, don't be afraid to go over his/her head and ask for another.
posted by deadfather at 5:32 AM on November 9, 2006

Help Unlimited and PoliTemps. Can vouch for both personally and professionally.

Help Unlimited will likely find you something right away regardless of your qualifications, but PoliTemps only accepts folks that have political experience (internships, campaign work, etc).

Both staff companies in the fields in which you mentioned you're looking to work.
posted by nearandfar at 5:53 AM on November 9, 2006

I worked in DC over the summer and I was registered with Trak Legal, who I discovered through a Craigslist posting. I interviewed in late April, gave them my starting and ending dates and, save for two days, I was employed from my start day until my end day. They are absolutely wonderful. As the name implies, they specialize in legal temp work placement, but they work with a number of organizations (one of my placements was with a real estate investment company). As for payment, you tell them what you need to be making and they will ensure that you do. Since I was living in DC (and rents are high), I had to be making at least $12/hour, which I thought was high for secretarial work, but they secured pay between $12- $16.50.

During my time this summer, I worked for a national antinuclear organization (3 days, my first assignment), an investment real estate company (slightly more than a month), and a well-regarded law firm (2 months). When I got a new placement, someone from Trak Legal called me after about a week to see how I was enjoying my time there, if I had any questions, etc. Also, the office in DC is run almost entirely by women; I don't know if that's really relevant, I just thought it was interesting. Everyone that I dealt with was professional and considerate. When I had a problem with my paychecks being delivered to the right address (they were sending them to my home address in Florida, rather than my apartment in DC), they had them overnighted from their home office in Jacksonville, FL to my apartment and I never had another problem. Oh, finally-- their office is located near the Farragut North metro stop and all of my assignments were within a 5 block radius of their office.
posted by Flamingo at 6:06 AM on November 9, 2006

I worked with Doyle Personnel, they had mostly administrative positions at the time (approx. four years ago). One of their clients wanted to hire me full time, so I guess they were good for that. Lovely people at Doyle. I even ended up temping directly for them for a week or so. I think I also worked with Ameritemps, but don't recall actually getting any work from them (and remember the employees being pretty rude).

I recommended Ranstad to a friend and she LOVED them. She wanted to get into museums and it turned out they're in good with the museums or something. She got several decent positions and one that turned perm. She ended up taking a much better job shortly after, but being able to temp in her industry really helped her resume.

A friend of mine was working with Trak (don't think it was "Trak Legal" though) and they completely screwed him (and their client) over when the government agency he was working for wanted to hire him permanently. I'd be wary of them, but that's just what I heard.

Good luck!
posted by ml98tu at 7:16 AM on November 9, 2006

It's already been mentioned, but I'll put in another good word for PoliTemps. I worked with them last year in between the 2004 election and finding a permanent gig and they were great in every way. Polite, the work was good and the pay was good.
posted by Inkoate at 7:37 AM on November 9, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks all. This is exactly the information I was looking for. Much appreciate it!
posted by hazelshade at 7:39 AM on November 9, 2006

I worked for TrakLegal in late 2002, and ended up taking a job that they found for me at a non-profit that reps biotechnology companies. They were very professional and cordial, except for some minor pressure when I was first offered a position. As deadfeather noted, they don't get paid on your full-time gig unless you take the job. So expect to have to assert yourself a little to hold off for the position that you really want.

Also, since I began my relationship with them by making it clear that I was in the market for a full-time job, that was really where their energies were focused, and the job that I got was not temp-to-perm, but simply permanent right away. That said, the short-term assignments that I took while waiting for the perfect job were fine, but pretty boring.
posted by weezetr at 12:30 PM on November 9, 2006

If you are comfortable with proofreading and editing, check out EEI Communications in Alexandria. They pay slightly higher than an admin temp service and you can work in their office or their clients' office. Nice, easy going staff, interesting work and a variety of projects.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 1:14 PM on November 9, 2006

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