How to Be a Good Temporary Employee: Communicate Well with Your Agency Representative

Congratulations! You’ve been looking for work with the help of a temp agency, and you just started your first long-term assignment. If you’re like me, you’re probably working hard at your assignment site, while fantasizing about your first paycheck. You’re trying to fit in at a new company, and so the temp agency that helped you get to said company may fade in your mind, except as “those guys that send me my checks.”

Don’t forget your temp agency, though. The agency is your employer, your crucial liaison between you and your assignment. While you may think the temp agencies are there to serve you – e.g., get you a job – it’s really a two-way street. Temp agencies will find you work, but, in return, they expect you to be a good, dependable employee. Performing well at your assignment is only one part of your success as a temp. You have to do right by the temp agency too, which means keeping in constant contact.

The First Few Days

Call your agency rep on the first day of the assignment to let him or her know that you have arrived punctually. Some agencies require you to do this, and some don’t. Do it anyway, even if you aren’t required to. Your rep will appreciate it.
At the end of your first week, E-mail or call your agency rep with a summary of your first days on the job. The temp agency’s mission is to find assignments that satisfy the company and the temp employee. While the agency may be in contact with your supervisor at the assignment, your agency rep may not always solicit your side of the story. Taking the initiative to debrief your agency rep demonstrates that you’re a proactive employee.

Heads Up!

Of course, if you have any problems or questions, call or E-mail your agency rep as soon as possible. Barring difficulties, however, you should E-mail or call your agency rep every week. Let him or her know how your assignment is going, even if nothing much has changed.

Regular chats with your agency rep have a twofold purpose. One is strictly business. Remember – you work for the temp agency at a particular company. While you may have an on-site supervisor that you report to, you are an employee of the temp agency, so technically your agency representative is your boss. Reporting regularly to your boss is as much part of your job as completing your temp assignment.

Second, you should talk to your rep frequently because it’s in your best interest. Not only will you resolve any questions or conflicts sooner, but you’ll also establish yourself as a conscientious employee with good follow-up and attention to detail. Then you’re much more likely to receive prompt, helpful service from your rep in returnâÂ?¦as well as a positive reference for your resume.


If you’re going to be sick or on vacation, you already know that you should tell your agency rep and your supervisor at your assignment. Let both of them know how long you will be gone and when you will return.

But there’s more. Once you come back from the sick bed or from your tropical getaway, send your agency rep a message that you’re back on the job. It may seem like overkill, but you and your rep can’t just pass each other in the hall and chat about Bermuda. Since you and your rep are at different sites, the more communication between you, the better.

Job Offers

Refer all questions about “going perm” to your agency rep. This is actually part of frequent communication, but it bears repeating. If you are offered a full-time job at your current assignment, don’t say yes or no immediately.

If you are interested in working full-time at the company where you are temping, you might reply, “Thanks for the offer; I am interested, but I have to talk to the agency about how to go about applying.” This is common courtesy. Because you’re employed by the temp agency, you can’t just commit to another job without letting the agency know. Furthermore, since your agency rep probably works on commission, with some sort of bonus if one of his or her temps goes perm, he or she will appreciate your heads-up.

If the company where you are assigned makes you an offer, but you don’t want to go perm, say no politely, but tell your rep about the offer. Again, your rep will appreciate that you are keeping him or her in the loop. Also, even if you say no, your rep will at least know that there are business leads at the assigned company, with the possibility of future commissions.

Ask Questions

While most of my advice is about extra information you should supply to your agency rep, don’t be afraid to GET information from him or her. Just because you’re on assignment doesn’t mean that you can’t think about others. If filing bores you out of your skull and you’d rather be doing reception, ask your rep if he or she has any receptionist assignments. If you realize that you’d be better fitted for financial services temping, rather than legal work, ask if the agency has a specific rep – or even a different division – that you can work with. If you initially interviewed for short-term assignments, but you’d like to switch to permanent placement, say so.

As a temp, you have a two-fold job. First, you do your work at your assignment. Second, you stay in touch with your agency rep. Both are essential ingredients to your success.

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