Out of work and beating the streets trying to find the next “perfect” job? Never fear, help is here. There are a variety of employment agencies who work extremely hard to help people find a job, albeit temporary, with the possibility of turning into a full time position.

Being a temp — a temporarily assigned employee — can be the best of both worlds — a job and freedom. Being a temp helps build self-esteem and is an opportunity for different types of training. A temp works a variety of jobs, often given assignments which might have taken months to acquire before but now, out of necessity, are plopped right down in the “temp’s” lap.

There are people who don’t like the fact of being a “temp.” Having “temped” for years in the past, it was one of the most fun jobs this writer has ever done. Temps are thrust into all manner of tasks from the minute they arrive at the job. Some chores are fun, some boring, some challenging. Each day is new. The good news is — if you don’t like it, it’s no big deal to call your manager and ask to be reassigned, just don’t do it on a regular basis. On the other hand, maybe this is the job of a life time and the company decides to offer it to you. One simply never knows and it’s a grand adventure!

“Becoming a temp is a very good place to start,” said Matt Foerster, franchisee/manager, Express Employment Professionals. “I can tell you hundreds of people in the last two years we’ve helped out of a bad situation to a very good one. They fought me on being a temp. But then they come back and say, ‘Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!’”

Matt has worked at Express Employment Pros since it opened as a franchise in 1996.

“I progressed through various positions in the office and when the owner was ready to sell the office in 2002, I bought it,” said Matt. “My drive in life is to help people. This is one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever been able to do. The lowest point in anybody’s life is when they’re looking for a job, especially if they have families to support or other obligations. I really do love people and helping them better their lives.

“One of my most successful stories is about a gentleman who transferred here, looking for an $8/hour job. I sent him for a week long assignment to get a mail-out done for a department at STC. The manager left a week later. Now, 10 years later, he has been promoted four times, once as an HR services rep for STC. He liked it so much he finished his degree at STC and now is a HR Program Instructor there.”

Sam Olivares, owner/partner in Texas Pro Staffing, has been in the business 13 years and started his own company three years ago. Starting as a sales representative with Link Staff, he reached a point where he felt it was time to go out on his own.

With Ruben Zamorano, also from Link Staff, as his partner, they developed a niche in the temp business which was strongly construction. Diversifying in the down economy, they also started handling more clerical.

“Most construction companies bring in their crews and we mainly deal with the general contractor,” Sam said. “They don’t have time to look for people. Much of the time it’s just plain Jane general labor, with some semi-skilled and skilled labor (plumbers, electricians, framers, dry-wallers) needed every now and then.”

Many of their “temp” positions also go to permanent placement.

“If one of our placements is well qualified, has a good work ethic and is ambitions and motivated, the companies will pick them up and put them on their payroll,” said Sam.

“The Temp business is usually a lag indicator,” said Matt. “A lot of people keep temps on longer when the economy is worse because they don’t hire. When it’s going better, it’s usually the temp who is the first to fill their position. I think people have been discouraged because they have been looking for jobs for so long that they’re not necessarily knowing where to go anymore.” Matt’s business is up 40 percent from this time last year.

“Anybody who is currently unemployed, why not let the agency do all the leg work?” said Sam.

The agencies are the ones who will find the clients work. All one needs do is apply at an agency which handles temporary assignments and apply like any other company - filling out the application, taking tests if necessary (depending on the job). In essence, it’s like applying to many companies one time.

For their client companies, the agencies do all the legwork also, handling the advertising, the applications, the screening, interviews, drug screening, criminal background checks, covering the workman’s compensation cost.

“I think a lot of people don’t know exactly how easy it is to go through a temporary service to find a job,” Matt said.

Adrienne Downey had been working in retail, handling shipping, receiving, inventory and wanted something different. She had gone as far as she could go and wanted a place where she could grow.

“I’m a huge believer that you need to climb the ladder and have room to grow,” Adrienne said. “What’s going to push you to do better and to learn more?”

Having been a hospitality, tours and management major in college, she took time off after her move to McAllen. Using this as an opportunity to gain experience and perhaps discover her true calling, she came to Express Employment Professionals not knowing what to expect.

By the time it was all over, she was hired as a Temp Sales Assistant with a possible evaluation hire.

“I think of my friends who are going to graduate in May with only a degree and no experience. I’ve learned employers want experience. They want to know — ‘What have you done?’ not ‘What do you know?’ Finding a job is hard, not having experience is even harder,” she said.

At the time of the interview she had just found out she would be a firm hire — she got the job!

“I’m very excited. I love the environment. But it’s not just a job,” she said with a knowing look. “It’s been a lot of learning. I’ve always loved helping people and I always wanted to work with people and help someone. Whether it be helping the client find the people or the people find the client, either way, in this job, in this company, I’ll be helping someone.”

“It’s a great industry. I love what I’m doing,” said Sam. “Every day is a challenge, something different. The economy changes, things change, companies change, personnel change. We’re a human resource department to everybody.”