EXCLUSIVE: How To Work With A Temp Recruiter

The BOSS Group is a temporary staffing agency for creative people, with branches in DC, Philly, New York, Richmond, Baltimore, Dallas, and Atlanta.
The company specializes in placing PR, editorial, design, and web professionals in temporary assignments.

So you’re a pro in one of these areas. Why aren’t you getting a call back?

Turns out that most of the same rules for applying for “regular” jobs matter in the temp world, too. For a better perspective, we spoke with Ed Willis, a BOSS senior recruiter.

The highlights appear below.

  • Remember that the agency is busy, too. “What we’re faced with is anywhere from 20 to 30 to 50 applicants a day,” Willis said. This number has only increased as the recession has turned formerly happy, employed workers into desperate unemployed ones. (The good news: staffing assignments are up, too, as companies are realizing they laid off too many people during the recession but are still wary of hiring permanent workers.)
  • Just like with working with a “regular” recruiter, if the recruiter doesn’t have a job that fits your requirements, you won’t be called right away. “If you’re a proofreader, and I’m busy with writer jobs, you’re not going to get the call right away.” However, Willis added, BOSS does occasionally bring in generally-qualified people for a generic interview, just for the purposes of keeping that person’s data on file in case another assignment comes up.

  • Face-to-face meetings are just as important in the temp world. BOSS holds bimonthly happy hour meetings for local creatives to network with each other, but shh! Usually BOSS staff are on hand, too, scouting out new talent. “If I make a connection face to face, it’s more likely you’re going to get a call,” said Willis.
  • Being able to drop everything, in this industry, is a good thing. “It’s not always about being the most stellar candidate, but it’s being the most accessible to us. Someone who we know is available, flexible, who can turn around in a day and go onto an assignment if we call. It’s that type of thing we look for more than the best creative director in the world. We get that call once a year, but I get a call for someone to come in and do production for a week 50 times a year.”
  • Also, gaps in your work history are less of a red flag. While some companies may look down upon freelancers (after all, it’s hard to tell from a resume whether the freelancer was successful or just stringing together gigs here and there after being laid off), BOSS loves them. “If you have a lot of short-term roles, if we know those were contract roles or temp jobs, that won’t bother us as much,” said Willis. In fact, “if you’re a freelancer and you know when it’s not going to busy, you’re perfect for us,” because the agency will try to find projects to fill in the freelancer’s gaps.
  • One last thing: At least for Willis, he doesn’t mind persistence. “If you see multiple jobs you’re interested in, keep applying. You may want to call in if you know a recruiter.” And referrals, like anywhere in the working world, are golden.