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VOL. 37 | NO. 19 | Friday, May 10, 2013

Temp’s life: Filling a void, finding a job

By Tony Troiano

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Hillary Curtis

Any manager who has handled scheduling for a business knows that sinking feeling. Faced with vacations, maternity leave, special or interim projects, jury duty, long-term illness or an unexpected departure, the harried manager must find a way to get the job or jobs done, with a minimum of fuss for the rest of the office, including the boss.

That’s where Hillary Curtis comes in. As business development manager at Express Employment, locally-owned and serving Williamson and Maury counties, she’s an expert at plugging in employment holes.

“This is not just a signature on paper,’’ says Curtis, a Franklin native. “It is a commitment, a relationship and partnership toward the success of our community. The people we work with on both sides (job seeker and business) are our neighbors.’’

The busiest time of year for agencies to find fill-ins for clients is winter holidays, not only in the retail stores but also for packaging and shipping companies. Demand in the summer includes a need for outdoor workers, but needs change. Information technology jobs also are a rapidly growing field in the state, experts say.

Employment agencies can be a one-stop-shop for the business in need, handling insurance coverage for employees, pay, background checks, skill verification, drug testing, recruiting and advertising to find qualified candidates. Environment, location and culture become part of the process, whatever the client needs.

On the other side is the relationship is the potential employee.

“No doubt about it,” Curtis says. “It’s a business, but you’re also dealing with people in need and often in dire straits. It gets to you, but when you have a placement, short-term or permanent, there are smiles all around.”

“The economy has been challenging for us all,” Curtis says. “However, business is on a major upswing across all areas at this point, and there are many needs for qualified professionals.”

Maury County needs industrial and commercial workers, and Williamson is growing with the clerical, administrative and executive sectors, she explains.


Angela Meyer

Vikki Parker, a Nashville bookkeeper, is working a temp-to-hire position with a local accounting firm after being out of the workforce for two years. She began searching for employment about a year ago and joined Snelling Nashville.

“I found the Snelling Nashville group and joined the agency,” Parker says. “I have been employed with a firm for just over a month as a temp-to-hire and hope to eventually become a permanent employee. I like my job and am on 480 hours probation. There’s a learning curve, but I’m optimistic.”

Snelling manager Angela Mayer says she prefers working with term interim workers rather than temps.

“We often find people with higher expectations,’’ she says. “An unemployed person should never think a job is beneath them. Sometimes you have to take a step back to go forward. If you’re working, you’re doing something and that looks better than the opposite.”

The most attractive positions right now are in IT, administrative, medical and light industrial, Mayer explains.

“Baby Boomers are somewhat difficult to place,’’ she adds. “Light industrial and construction may be too much physically for them. Clerical and administrative are good fits, but often there is less knowledge of the latest technology. More skilled workers are needed.’’

Full-time, steady paycheck

Kenneth Anderson is doing pressure washing, lawn service and painting on his own, but says he would like to find anything that is permanent along with a consistent paycheck.

“I do a little bit on my own,” Anderson says, “but at times it’s not enough. In the past I have had help from Snelling Nashville. I do get down some days because I enjoy going to work and checking in. I put all my trust in the Man upstairs. He’ll provide.”

Mayer advises job seekers “be proactive.’’

“One thing you can do is the basic, let people know you are looking for a job,” she says. “I have a ‘hot’ list of people who I know are really seeking employment, and they’re my priority.”

For those who have been job searching for some time, agency employees feel the pain.

“Yes. I’m the biggest sap in the world,” Mayer says. “You can’t help but sympathize with them. Sure you want to find people jobs from a financial standpoint for us. But you get so much gratification when you help the individual. There’s that proverbial warm feeling.”

For those persons who are coming up short on permanent positions, is there a possibility of making a living off interim work?

“Some companies only hire interim workers,” Mayer adds. “If you get with a business that pays well and then, the key, you can get ample overtime, yes there is a chance you could make a living.”