A new service has engaged since World War II, which offers advantages to at least a half million women as well as to tens of thousands of employers. It is the temporary help industry. It finds a market for the odd days and weeks of people—mainly married women. The market is with employers who have peak work loads, temporary replacement needs, and special jobs of short duration. It is a fascinating game which almost any woman can play for a profit.
How They Operate
Some of the temporary help services have branch offices in practically every state. The largest service specializing in women, Kelly Girl, head quartered in Detroit, operates through 145 branches spread out in 43 of the 50 states, including one in Anchorage, Alaska, and another in Honolulu. Others operating nation-wide include Employers Overload; Manpower, Inc.; Western Girl, Inc.; Workman Diversified Enterprises. In addition, there are a number which have one or more offices within a state.
Before adding you to its list the temporary help service will require a personal consultation, plus a test to determine what you can do. It will ad vise you on improving your skills. You will be given rules regarding your relations both with the service and with the client.
Before each job you will be informed of the name of your employer and the probable duration of the assignment, as well as its nature.
You will be expected to perform at the top level of your proficiency. Al ways you will be expected to be reliable and punctual.
While some jobs obtained from a temporary help service may go on for months, most of them last but several days at a time. Except for unusual circumstances, if you do accept a job, you will be expected to see it through.
In order to keep you as regularly employed as possible, the service will want you to report when you complete a job, even if a definite period was previously specified. You would then be put back on the active list to be contacted for the next opening.
The majority of jobs are in the categories that usually employ women, but there are frequent calls for unusual assignments, which offer intriguing experience.
A New York cook was supplied to fill an emergency opening on a liner about to embark for Nassau. A former art student in Virginia made an inventory of a millionaire’s large collection which later was sent on exhibit. A well-known writer engaged a Kelly Girl to trace his antiques to their original owners.
In Cincinnati a Manpower employee demonstrated the “wash and hang” features of a new drapery fabric. In Milwaukee a Manpower employee demonstrated the many different ways bows could be made with gift ribbons. In Kansas City, Mrs. Jane Shoemaker, a 42-year-old housewife with four children, was assigned by Employers Overload to work for former President Harry S Truman in the Truman Library. In New York licensed guides and interpreters meet planes and ships from abroad. Guide Service of New York, Inc., offers employment to women on a daily basis to serve as guides and personal shoppers.
Women have been paid to listen to their favourite radio and TV programs and report their reaction to the commercials.
It is to the advantage of the temporary service to classify you under as many different occupational headings as possible. The same woman might be filed as a secretary, linguist, model, receptionist, tutor, etc. Thus, they can get you as many assignments as possible within the time available to you. Cases have been cited of women who started as secretaries and ended up as skilled producers for radio programs, TV personalities, and private teachers. This is the familiar story of getting one’s foot in the door, becoming better acquainted, learning about opportunities, and adapting or pointing oneself toward them.
You pay no fee for any job, as the temporary help service is your employer and bills its client sufficiently to include your salary plus overhead. The service pays its share of social security and other levies. Some insure you to and from your place of work. The check you receive is your take home pay, after deductions for Federal income tax and your share of state, social security, and local taxes. Attached to each check there will be a statement of your earnings and the deductions, or such a statement will be sent you at periodic intervals to be kept for reference when you have your next date with the Internal Revenue Service.
All work is paid on an hourly basis and varies slightly according to the region.
The temporary help service spares you the trouble and time of locating a job. Because you will be sent from employer to employer, you will have variety in your work and be able to make new contacts. This is especially important for the woman who eventually plans to seek permanent full-time work. In fact, many women who have interrupted their working careers for motherhood look to the temporary service to help them keep their skills lively, particularly when they can accept only occasional work.
Unlike the firm which hires directly and which must abide by the conditions of pensions and company insurance, the temporary help service has no age limit. Even physical disability will be no bar if the employee can do the required work. Many an older woman, who was rejected when she applied directly to a company, was later engaged for the same firm by a temporary help service. Many a retired employee has gone hack to her old company as a temporary.
Services that operate nation-wide report that employees have paid the tab for traveling around the country, through temporary assignments. As they proceed to different cities, they sign up with the branches located there, work several hours a day or a few days a week, and see the sights during free time.
Temporary assignments serve as fill-ins for many women with jobs: air line stewardesses when they’re not flying, employees of companies closed by strikes, and women who want to put in a few extra hours on night jobs.
One service has on its list a broadway actress who reports regularly when she is between engagements. Robert B. Miller, president of Employers Overload, tells of a girl who worked to keep herself in pocket money while writing a book.
Not unusual Is the case of Cecily Worth, once a highly paid administrative secretary, who was able to take off several years for hobbies, leisure, travel, and study. When she tried to re-enter the labor market, she found the higher-paying jobs were in areas where new techniques and methods had been developed while she was in her ivory tower. Moreover, the supervisory jobs were held by men and women younger than herself who were reluctant to take on an older woman to whom the essentials of the work were foreign.
As she entered—and left—various offices, she was appalled by the lively efficiency of the smartly clad young women operating machines about which she knew nothing, taking crisp orders from crew-cut young men, who were always in a hurry.
Her self-confidence dented, but not broken, she concluded her best course was to get some practical experience in the business world which had taken on such puzzling dimensions since she was part of its labor force. The alternative was to resign herself to routine work at routine pay.
She put her problem up to the supervisor of a temporary help service “with more timidity than I ever felt in my life.”
Months later, and many jobs later, Cecily was hired for a responsible administrative position, starting at more than her last job paid and which, furthermore, expected her to apply the new knowledge she had acquired both during her retirement and her recent apprenticeship.
How to Approach a Temporary Help Service
The instructions that were given in the previous section apply here. They should be carefully reviewed and followed. Seek out the temporary help service as you would an individual employer whom you approach direct.
If there is no temporary help service in your town, the chances are that there is insufficient local need. In that event write the nearest ones to inquire whether there are enough part-time calls in your community to warrant your making a trip for consultation. A note to your State Employment Service or Chamber of Commerce may bring you a list of such services in your area.
If there is more than one in your locality, visit at least a few. You may prefer the atmosphere or attitude of a particular office or supervisor.
Before you call upon or write to a temporary help service—Be Prepared.
Have your skills ready to perform.
Have your resume drawn up. Remember that your education, your volunteer work, your hobbies, even your travels may add up to qualifications for some special assignment.
Know how much time you can give a job, whether you can be placed on regular call, whether you could continue on a job indefinitely.
Remember, your appearance can count for or against you.
Employers who use the temporary help services have hardheaded reasons. Just as the service spares you the trouble and time to search for part- time job, it likewise spares the employer the trouble of finding help. Engaging part-timers directly involves fringe benefits, social security, Federal and state insurance payments, payroll handling, bookkeeping and hiring costs. Since the temporary service absorbs these overhead expenses, a company can save as much as eight dollars a week per employee. Some engage a corps of part-time workers for indefinite periods from a single service and save payroll expense by paying for their assistance in a single check.
At all times the employer hires because he has specific needs in mind. He expects the proficiency he stipulated and wants his money’s worth.
The service guarantees performance. If the worker, as will sometimes happen, proves incompetent for the assignment, the service replaces her and the employer is spared the embarrassment of letting her go and the inconvenience of finding someone to take her place.
The temporary help service, operating on the principle that spare time is lime that can be put to good use, has developed a place for itself in the business world by the quality of the work performed by the women it en gages, who, too, abide by that doctrine.