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12/23/2008
06:18 PM
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Is Getting Work Through A Staffing Agency Risky?

Amid the economic crisis, a lot of people are finding themselves out of work -- often for the first time. And those same people might be eyeing temporary staffing agencies to bring in at least some income. But what should be considered before taking on contract work?

Amid the economic crisis, a lot of people are finding themselves out of work -- often for the first time. And those same people might be eyeing temporary staffing agencies to bring in at least some income. But what should be considered before taking on contract work?As the unemployment rate is expected to rise in the coming months, more people will be considering staffing firms. And while you used to be able to expect a somewhat steady flow of assignments, the competition for lucrative work will likely be tough as IT workers lose their jobs or grow more concerned about job security.

Meridith Levinson at ITBusiness.ca warns of the risks of accepting contract work from IT staffing agencies:

  • Temping isn't always a quick fix. Some people sign up with staffing firms and wait months -- even years - for one assignment.
  • The staffing firm may oversell you to a client. A staffing agency, wanting to make money, might place you in a position in which you're uncomfortable since you're underqualified.
  • The staffing firm may spread you thin. In a further attempt to make money, the staffing firm might take you off one project and place you on another, blaming you to the client. Also, the firm might require overtime.
  • Contract work isn't always flexible. Once you sign a contract for an assignment, you need to stick with it.
  • You can be cut loose at any time. At the same time, the client can terminate the contract.
  • Benefits are scarce. Often, there just aren't any.

I was a bit surprised when I read this article -- maybe this is news to those signing up for staffing agencies for their first times, but I always considered it standard that there are no guarantees in temping. You're not guaranteed a job, which is why people often sign up with more than one staffing firm, and you stick with even the most mundane projects because it's a paycheck, you can network, and you signed a contract -- at least you know the position will eventually end.

Hopefully, the staffing dilemma won't be a problem for much longer, as IT jobs are expected to grow in 2009.

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