Image courtesy of Pakorn at

Like it or not, often the quickest way to an entry-level position that doesn’t require you to ask, “Do you want fries with that?” is through a temp agency. Get placed, keep your nose clean for at least 90 days (sometimes longer), and you could be some company’s newest full-time employee, hopefully with benefits to boot.

Getting placed, however, is the first step, and that first step can be a doozy. You see, somewhere between ‘getting placed’ and actually working the job of your dreams (or even just one that’s going to keep your lights on) stands a representative of the staffing firm that services that company. They go by various titles – staffing manager, staffing coordinator, recruiter, etc., but they have one thing in common – they often hold just the keys you need to unlock those oft-elusive career doors.

Ideally, you want staffing managers to be your advocate, an agent of sorts, to guide you to the best fit for you within their clientele. Given that, if you are applying for work at a staffing agency it’s in your best interest to do what it takes to win the staffing manager to your side.

Since we’ve already detailed several ‘don’ts’ in the world of staffing in our article on how to avoid our blacklist, let’s focus on a few ‘do’s’ that can help differentiate you from all the other applicants vying for the same job.

1.) Fill out a complete application – One would think this would be obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people are content to put their name and contact information on there with little or nothing else attached. Put yourself in our shoes and imagine looking through a stack of applications (or a list online), trying to find a machine operator with CNC experience. Even if your name is Clark Kent and we pause on yours for a second and think, “Man of steel – I’ll bet he could run a CNC,” if you didn’t include your work history we’ll have no choice but to pass. We simply don’t have the time to babysit, and if you don’t care about your application enough to fill it out completely, there’s really nothing we can do for you.

Every single question of an application is there to help us help you. Fill it all out, every single line. Even the phone number and supervisor information for your past jobs is important. Time-starved reference checking staffing managers aren’t going to think pleasant thoughts about you if they are forced to Google or Yellow Page your last place of employment, then bother half a dozen people before finally finding out who you worked for at XYZ corporation.

2.) Interview well – Interviewing well really involves just a few things (some of which we elaborate more on in this article):

Dress appropriately – You can both overdress and underdress for an interview, depending on the position. The key is to dress a notch above what you are applying for, nothing more or less. Unless you are applying for an executive or higher level office job, please leave the suit, tie, and dress clothes at home. Sorry, but someone who comes in a suit to apply for a light industrial job just seems weird to us. On the other hand, don’t come in here looking like you just got out of bed either. A polo shirt and/or a nice blouse and jeans are entirely appropriate to interview for a light industrial job.

Be polite – Say please and thank you. Say ‘yes’ instead of ‘yeah.’ Put your phone away. Basic, elementary school stuff to be sure, but simple politeness really goes a lot farther than you think, especially in today’s increasingly IMpolite society.

Be respectful – Respect your interviewer’s person, their position (don’t be demanding), and their space (don’t put your elbows on their desk!).

Be candid – We expect you to tell the truth, but also to portray yourself in the best possible light. However, don’t tell us something unless it’s true. Also, unless the questions are clearly meant to be basic, don’t use simple ‘yes or no’ answers. Elaborate when you can.

3.) Do what you say you’re going to do – Whether it’s showing up on time for an interview or a drug test or showing up for work on that first day, simply doing what you tell us you’re going to do will go a LONG way toward making us your advocate. We WANT to help people we can trust!

There you have it, three simple things you can do to differentiate yourself from a significant percentage of your competitors. Of course, this doesn’t just apply to the staffing world – it applies to any other job you hope to land as well!

Written by Scott Morefield

Scott started with AtWork as a Staffing Manager in 1999, eventually taking over the Bristol, TN office as Branch Manager in 2005. After a two year stint as both Branch Manager and social media manager, he assumed the role of Director of Marketing in October of 2014. By night, Scott is a news and opinion columnist for BizPac Review. His work has also been featured on the Drudge Report, Fox Nation, Breitbart, TheBlaze, WND, Staffing Talk, among others. Scott holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources and an MBA from East Tennessee State University. He and his wife, Kim, live in Bristol, Tennessee with their four children.

View all posts by this author →