Monday, September 24, 2012

The other side of the temp story

From this week's C&EN, a letter to the editors:
After working several temp-to-hire jobs, I saw the article “Temps Wanted,” which asserts that staffing companies are beneficial to industry and new graduates (C&EN, Dec. 12, 2011, page 41). My experience, however, has been contrary. 
When I applied directly to a company, I was handed over to a hiring agency to cover the background check and drug testing, but the agency never checked up on me. In addition, when I was ill, I had no paid sick leave and barely made enough to cover living expenses. A few days before my contract expired, I was laid off with no notice and had been misled three weeks prior that the company would be happy to hire me. The temp agency had no backup jobs available, nor did it have anything months later when I followed up with them. 
From what I’ve heard, agencies make 15–35% on your salary (meaning their client could hire you permanently for at least your current pay rate). In addition, some agencies require the client to “buy” the contractor for a headhunter fee of $5,000–$20,000 to convert the contractor to an employee. Europe has laws requiring contractors to be treated as regular employees after four months, with equal benefits and commensurate pay. 
ACS needs to reconsider temp agencies and to advocate for its members. Moving every three to 12 months when a contract expires, as well as not being treated equally with coworkers, is mentally and financially exhausting. 
By Emily Bloom
San Lorenzo, Calif.
This is a part of the temp-to-hire story that doesn't get told enough. (I confess it's one of the reasons that I do not cover the Kelly Scientific jobs in the ACS Careers database in the same manner as typical positions.)


  1. Another often untold part of the story is the lack of bargaining power you have if you are fortunate enough to get hired on full-time from a Temp position.

    My first job after graduating with a B.S. in Biochemistry was a temporary position in Aldrich's marketing department. I was fortunate enough to make a good impression and get hired on full-time in the technical service department, but I had basically zero bargaining power when it came to negotiating a salary.

    The companies know full well that you are desperate for a full-time position with full benefits, so they can make an offer that doesn't exactly align with what experience would dictate.

  2. A couple of pet peeves with temp (& perm) offerings:

    Hiring managers phoning me to come in for an interview, but failing to notice from the CV header that I'm on the other side of the country. Then I find out locals only, grasshopper.

    Offerings so devoid of detail that one wonders what the employer wants.

  3. I'm not a chemist, I merely minored in it, but I did major in a science. I was recently let go from a contract to hire temporary position with absolutely zero warning. I had zero attendance issues, I came in early for meetings, I covered for other employees, and did my job every night. Nonetheless, I received a phone call on a Monday saying the previous Friday was my last day because "I wasn't a good fit." I was so looking forward to actually having a steady job with benefits, but now I'm scrambling for government assistance while I hunt for jobs. I'll probably end up someplace where I'm overqualified and underpaid, but be happy simply because I have a paycheck.

    Science degrees are not nearly as lucrative as advertized, and I think you for talking about the reality of the situation.

    1. "Science degrees are not nearly as lucrative as advertized, and I think you for talking about the reality of the situation."

      Thank you, not think you, stupid typos

  4. I agree with you that at the end of have that paycheck and that you have given your best under the circumstances beyond anyone's control. But, this will come to haunt all as you have to wonder how low is too low? Frankly it seems to me that we are marching towards that bottomless pit, even if the economy by and large recovers!

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