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Are temp agencies a stepping stone or bottom feeders

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Are temp agencies a stepping stone or bottom feeders

Postby Eric » Fri Sep 18, 2009 2:47 pm

Kevin,

I've only been employed in industry for 4-5 years, and only with 2 small start-up biotechs. We were never large enough for temp work to even be an issue I guess. If I had worked for larger companies, then I'm sure I would be dealing with companies that hire temporary workers.

Please understand that I am not saying companies who hire temps are evil. As I said in my last post, when considering a potential employer, using temp workers raises a red flag, but not all red flags are bad. A red flag to me is simply something I note that MIGHT BE a problem. I simply look into the matter and try to determine why this company uses temp labor and how much temp labor they use. The situations you and Elsie describe sound like healthy and appropriate use of temporary workers. In many cases however, companies use temporary workers for the wrong reasons and over-reliance can suggest that the company has trust issues with committing to hiring full-time employees.
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Are temp agencies a stepping stone or bottom feeders

Postby Nathan » Fri Sep 18, 2009 3:38 pm

Have to agree with Eric but understand the potential cost savings of hiring temps. If I was a laboratory manager, tech, or post-doc employed in academia, I wouldn't jump ship for a temp position in industry. Why.....in large part due to the potential instability in the position or the fact the hiring of mostly temps reflects poorly on the financial health of the company, especially if it is small company. Usually, there are many other non-temp positions in industry that one should seek instead that reflect a better "opportunity" for the candidate. It is probably best to wait it out in academia for a better option.

Traditionally, temp positions are meant for blue colar manual labor or clerical positions. Thus, there maybe a stigma with a highly educated scientist (with a MS/PhD) choosing this pathway. I would only choose a temp position if I was unemployed or lacked an undergraduate education. Know many engineers and programmers in Dallas, they hardly mention temp options for these professions. Most are hired in a traditional full time position with benefits.
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Re: Are temp agencies a stepping stone or bottom feeders

Postby Steven Z. » Thu Sep 17, 2015 8:46 am

I thought I'd revive this topic since I have been in the field for a while and unfortunately have a lot of knowledge on this topic.

I find that the bottom feeder scenario is closer to the truth. A large number of bench positions are now controlled by these p*mps and that is not a good thing. I worked for nearly three years for a large food corp that packed the place full of temps/contractors so they didn't have to pay benefits and could fire anyone with a single phone call. It was the most miserable experience of my life. They would kick us out of meetings and exclude us from social events. I had no benefits and was earning 2/3 of what a direct employee would. I was at the point I lost all passion for the profession, stopped reading papers, and set my diplomas on fire on my 30th birthday for a morale pickup. I was preparing to quit the field and go back to school for accounting. I spent the entire time there searching for a better job but most of the large corps pull the same crap. Perma-temps.

I finally found a job at a really great smaller company and slowly recovered my passion for the field though I was initially motivated by fear of ending up back in such a miserable job. It is like night and day I get awards, raises, full benefits. The difference is just crazy.

Ultimately though I have vowed that I will never deal with a staffing agency again and will probably need to proceed with a career change if I lost my current job. I've also, sadly, had to discourage others in my family from considering pursuing a career in science. I think that is unfortunate but I feel like doing so is putting yourself in an abusive situation.
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Re: Are temp agencies a stepping stone or bottom feeders

Postby Dave Jensen » Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:17 am

Steven,

I don't think your experience is what was intended for the temp agency "norm." Working for three years for a temp agency is not temp any longer, that's a full time job and someone treating it like a career. Yes, you work for a temp agency that long and you're going to be in abuse mode by that point.

The only value one of these outfits might have, in my opinion, is that you can get some hands-on experience in a company, and use it in your job search to your advantage. Not to get cosy for years working at only 2/3 of your potential compensation and benefits.

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Re: Are temp agencies a stepping stone or bottom feeders

Postby Steven Z. » Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:22 am

Well I certainly didn't choose it. However, so many of the large companies, especially big pharma, are abusing the temp system for their bench staff that people are literally being forced to either accept it or quit the profession. I'd opt for the later.

On several occasions when interviewing for one of the few direct positions, when the interviewers asked why I was searching, I said temp/contract and they just nodded their head and told me that is pretty much what they hear from everyone. It has virtually become a plague in this profession.
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Re: Are temp agencies a stepping stone or bottom feeders

Postby Dave Jensen » Thu Sep 17, 2015 3:04 pm

Steven Z. wrote:Well I certainly didn't choose it. However, so many of the large companies, especially big pharma, are abusing the temp system for their bench staff that people are literally being forced to either accept it or quit the profession. I'd opt for the later.

On several occasions when interviewing for one of the few direct positions, when the interviewers asked why I was searching, I said temp/contract and they just nodded their head and told me that is pretty much what they hear from everyone. It has virtually become a plague in this profession.


I'm sorry but we'll have to agree to disagree with each other. Your posts have a distinctly negative tone, and my impression is that this will come out in the interviewing process as well. Science Careers are not easy, but they are also not as bad as you've painted them in several comments here today. There are certainly more opportunities than those that show up as contractor roles. Companies have employed contractors for the 30 years I've been recruiting for them, and it's usually a given percentage of their workforce. While it might have risen 2-4%, it's certainly not doubled or anything like that which would mean that there are still other jobs that are being filled by other means (not temps).

As a recruiter, I can tell you that people who have been temping for a long time are not considered "prime candidates" any longer. It's just like a PhD taking a BS or MS level job and then years later interviewing for a PhD level job -- the interviewer wonders, "What gives?" and moves on to the next candidate.

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Re: Are temp agencies a stepping stone or bottom feeders

Postby Steven Z. » Thu Sep 17, 2015 3:53 pm

First off I have only commented on two threads including this one and the post on the other thread was neutral.

I also find it annoying whenever someone recounts their negative experiences on the job market someone else just chimes in well that's why you can't find a job you have a bad attitude. I find that to be a rather cheap blow-off and nearly as bad as the people who come out and dismiss such people as being hacks who can't cut it.

I've been to several large and mid size corps in my area and their staffing model is they hire one or two senior level laboratory managers or bench scientists and have them manage large groups of temps. Even today I have had to tell 2 staffing agency recruiters to politely blow off and the job boards are so flooded with ads from staffing agencies I often had to specifically filter out Aerotek and Kelly from the results, even on ACS's board.

In fact. CEN has written several articles on it though, as usual, they tried to put a positive spin on it.
http://www.cen-chemjobs.org/jobseeker/a ... atemp.html
http://cen.acs.org/articles/91/i48/Hired.html
http://cen.acs.org/articles/89/i50/Temps-Wanted.html

One doesn't need to search very far to find similar stories and I consider it a symptom of a bigger problem. That companies have such low value for their bench scientists that they don't even feel the need to directly hire them and try to retain them. That is when you know a profession is in serious decline.
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Re: Are temp agencies a stepping stone or bottom feeders

Postby Dave Jensen » Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:06 pm

Steven Z. wrote: I also find it annoying whenever someone recounts their negative experiences on the job market someone else just chimes in well that's why you can't find a job you have a bad attitude. I find that to be a rather cheap blow-off and nearly as bad as the people who come out and dismiss such people as being hacks who can't cut it.


Steven, apologies, as I certainly didn't mean to dismiss your experiences.

Our worlds are too different. We'll only clash for the most part. I see plenty of opportunity out there -- I realize that this is the way of the big company, but there are many companies out there besides big ones. And it's essentially been this way most of the time I've been recruiting.

My guess is that you have a BS in Chemistry or a BS in Biology. If that's the case, please let us know. Most of the readers here will not face this constant "contractor push" that you might be seeing if you're at the BS level in the pharmaceutical belt.

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Re: Are temp agencies a stepping stone or bottom feeders

Postby PG » Fri Sep 18, 2015 6:29 am

I am not working for one of the big pharma and can say that ss a company we have been using temp agencies in two different ways. The first is the typical blue collar jobs in whcih we use temp agencies to meet peaks in manufacturing volumes. Some of the people workign for us in this way have been recruited to permanent positions wihtin the company and others have not.

The only time we have so far used a temp agency for R&D purposes was when we as a company were approach by a major non profit organization who asked us to develop a new assay to be used in an emergency situation. To do this we needed several new scientists to start immediately and we were unable to hire all of them directly with that short notice. This was also a project that was very limited in time and scope. Later this project got extended and we ended up paying the fee to the temp agency to allow us to do a direct hire.
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Re: Are temp agencies a stepping stone or bottom feeders

Postby Steven Z. » Fri Sep 18, 2015 8:08 am

Actually I have an MSc. By BSc. was in biochemistry and my MSc. was in the area of protein biochemistry and molecular biology but since it was in the department of chemistry my degree says chemistry (fortunately). I did not find any of my molecular biology qualifications useful for finding gainful employment so I focused more on chemistry and downplayed the biology.

After I graduated, after 6 months of temp agencies offering me $15 an hour and me telling them to go fly a kite I finally got a pretty good direct job doing analytical chemistry and moved 800 miles away to a relatively isolated rural town. I got laid off after 9 months and had to move back home as there was practically no chance of getting another professional job there.

After moving back home I decided to take a temp/contract job as at least now they were offering $20 per hour. It was with a major food conglomerate best known for their soft and sports drinks. It turned into a 3 year nightmare that darn near killed my passion for science. They were as I described, a place packed with permatemps and trying desperately to alienate them to avoid getting sued as they were operating at the edge of labor law. The sick part is they would send constant emails proclaiming how they were one of America's most ethical companies.

I spent the entire 3 years there searching and growing more and more disengaged with the job and entire profession. By the second year I was seriously investigating just declaring my entire science education a bad investment and going back to college for accounting and business.

During my search I continued to be jerked around with temp agencies though I did toy with the idea of going elsewhere as it was clear the place I was working wouldn't hire me but the situation at other companies seemed similar especially at one of the big pharmaceutical companies in the area.

I finally got a real good job at a smaller company running an analytical lab. I still have great anxiety about the job market in science and am saving a large portion of my income and living frugally so I either have the option of retraining as I has previously planned or retiring early.
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