Dear PoPville – Advice on Finding Temp Employment

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“Dear PoPville,

Like much of the country, my significant other is having a really hard time finding work. And I mean any work – he has lived in DC since the fall, and hasn’t been able to find anything, after many an interview and application.

So basically I’m asking if your readers have had any good luck with any temp agencies or really any other tips to get hired here in DC – I’ve told him all I know, but it seems a lot of people in DC have good luck with temp agencies and I have no experience with that.


49 Comment

  • I’ve used Trak Services for about a year now on and off and have been pretty happy with them. One gig was for six months and the rest have just been 1-2 days, but it’s not bad. I would definitely recommend checking them out.

  • my only advice would be to use a temp agency that is tailored to finding work in whatever field he’s in. other than that, join any professional organizations in the field and network like crazy.

  • I had good luck with Ruthi Postow Staffing on K Street I was surprised to get quite a few 2-3 day gigs pretty regularly. They’re good at making you feel good about yourself before going to interviews, too.

    They’ll stalk your afterwards, though. Somehow they even found my Twitter feed. Not that I mind followers, I guess.

    • I too had good luck with RP

    • I had AMAZING luck with Ruthi Postow, but admittedly, this was back in 2007 when the job market wasn’t as awful as it is right now. They actually initially set me up in a job that was a temp-to-hire as the administrative assistant at a small, local comms firm. It was not quite what I wanted, but in my general interest area, so I took the gig and it ended up being a nightmare (not their fault, the people were CAH-RAZY). Because I had such a bad intial experience, they doubled-down and found a temp position with a high-profile think tank (I’d originally wanted to work in non-profit). That led to a permanent job there, which then led to a stable government job when the Administration changed over in 2009. I realize my story is not a common one, and that I might sound like a bot/ad or something, but I got really excited to see that others had had good experiences and had to chime in. Good luck.

  • I had good luck with Ruthi Postow, in terms of just finding something non-horrible to do right away. It was boring, but it was a paycheck. They were also really nice and had a big focus on trying to find temp-to-permanent jobs.

  • I guess it depends on what field he is in and what he wants to do. I would have guessed he COULD have gotten a job at Potbelly or Chipotle by now.

    We have been trying to find somebody that would want to do general yard work / garden work in the Bloomingdale neighborhood a few hours per week for $10 an hour with no luck. Looking for someone reliable / honest that wants some extra work long term.

    • I am an obsessively yard-er. And live on the Bloomie border! Would love the extra work and can even send a few photos of my yard if you want to see the work I have done with it over the yeras.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    A reader just sent the following list via email:

    Association Staffing:

    Career Blazers:

    Careers In Nonprofits:

    City Staff:

    Ford Agency:

    Gap Solutions:


    Professionals for Nonprofits:

    Protucall Staffing:


    Ruthi Postow:

    • As somebody who has had to use temp agencies, and knows a TON of people who likewise had to do the same, I can say that the only agency on this list that any of us had luck with was RuthiPostow.

      I do know one person who had luck with LegalSource, if paralegal-ing is your thing.

      • LegalSource is more for contract attorney work so unless he has a JD or is barred it won’t help him much

  • May not be exactly what you want to hear but when phrased as “any” work there’s something wrong if they can’t find a job. As a recent law grad I’m currently unemployed in my desired/chosen field..however, I was able to find a restaurant job that pays me close to the amount I’d be making in many jobs I see posted for staff attorneys and the like (other than at the big firms of course).

    Also, many service positions are great opportunities to allot time towards finding a job in the field your other would like…many places are open only in the evenings and on weekends freeing up the time many interviews may occur. And it’s a great way to meet other people who may be able to introduce you to a strong lead since as they say DC is about who you know not what you know.

    It may not be a great permanent fix, but it is a great way to start bringing in some money in the mean time.

    • what kind of restaurant job are we talking here?

      I feel like bartenders in hot spots and waitstaff at high end restaurants can make serious coin…

      • I picked up a restaurant job as well after law school. It wasn’t high-end, and I did okay. could pay the rent and take care of myself while I looked. It may not be what job seekers have in mind, but it sure beat defaulting on student loans.

        • me

          The problem is that too many people think it’s “beneath” them to do work like that when they have an advanced degree. But you’ve got the right idea about it- good luck to you!

  • When I first moved to DC, I used Trak Services not only to find temp work, but also to find a permanent placement. When you go in, they ask you what your interests are and the fields you would like to work in. Although the temp jobs may not be in these fields, they tried their best to find me placements and interviews for more permanent work.

    I was lucky enough to get put on a 7 week assignment and then interviewed at another company for a permanent job at a company that interested me. It worked out and over the last 3 years I’ve moved from over qualified receptionist to part of the professional staff.

  • I had good luck with StaffConnect. Again, the jobs were boring but regular and they paid $15/hour which isn’t the worst you can do, I guess. They are super nice, at the least, and I had a 6 week gig that offered an extension (I politely declined for seemingly greener pastures)the day after I interviewed.

  • during my job search I had very good luck with CityStaff- three months of temp employement and an offer to interview for a permanent position that I didn’t take.

  • I got my current job of 3 years through CityStaff. I have two other friends who have had success with them as well.

    1701 K St NW # 500
    Washington D.C., DC 20006-1525
    202) 861-4200

  • For several years, whenever I moved to a new city, one of my first stops was to register with Manpower. NOt only did they often find me temp work, but several times that temp work led to full time (with benefits!).

  • I had luck with Keepers in Old Town Alexandria. I think they have a couple locations in DC/MD. In addition to getting me some pretty decent temp work, they actually connected me with permanent opportunities.


    Went in before Christmas, had my first placement a week or so after I returned from home.

  • Not sure what your field is, but I’m an editor and got several good jobs (in the 90s), including my current one, through Editorial Experts in Alexandria.

  • had a fantastic experience with Premier Personnel:

    Started out with a rigorous temp-to-hire scouting, ended up with a temp-to-hire placement. Been here since beginning of 2008 with a steady pay increase and constant promotion and love every minute of where I am working.

    Temp work is well worth it and I enjoyed it because I could really pick my hours. IMO, Premier really looks at what you want for the future and places you within it. I continue to use them for any temp work we need and refer them to everyone I know who is looking for work. I tried RuthiPostow but was using PP at the same time, so I am sure RP would have given me a good result as well.

  • I have had great experiences with Professionals for NonProfits. My first placement with them was for about 3 months and could of led to a job if I wanted entry level. My next placement with them kept extending and ended up lasting about 6 months before being hired full time. The best part was the job is in a field I had never considered and am still loving it 3 years later. I would wholeheartedly recommend PNP DC.

  • I used Help Unlimited Temps years ago before I found a permanent job (

    • I’ve used Help Unlimited twice and found it to be a good experience both times – I think they specialize in non-profit-type organizations (although I also temped at the WaPo thru them).

  • The best way is usually to get help from friends. They may not be able to get him the job or even an interview single-handedly, but they can probably get the person making the decision to look at their resume. Even that is often difficult when hundreds of people apply for a job.

  • I have experience with CityStaff and Ruthi Postow.

    I worked temp to hire for a year with CityStaff and then went permanent, and stayed for 4 years, until all the economy tanked in 2008. I loved CityStaff- they always went out of their way to be super helpful and friendly.

    I then found a permanent placement through Ruthi Postow. It was a terrible fit, and I left after 3 months, and they immediately stepped in to help me find some temp work. I think they’re great. Months later, I was working in a position that I’d found through contacts, and somehow Ruthi Postow tracked me down at my office to check in and see what I was doing. I ended up referring several friends to them, one of whom got a job.

    I didn’t have the luck with Trak that other people have. I do know of a couple of people who got some short-term temp jobs through Friends and Co.

    • I temped through Friends & Co. about 11 years ago and got a few placements through them.

      When I was googling them earlier today, though, it looked like maybe they had gone out of business or been absorbed by another temp company; there didn’t seem to be a website under their own name.

  • I often have a difficult time finding qualified people to bring in for interviews despite receiving many resumes. Below are some tips that help get you an interview and possibly the job:

    Proof your resume/cover letter for grammar.
    Do not use emoticons in your cover letter (not kidding I have received them).
    Cater your cover letter to the position you are applying for.
    Submit EVERYTHING that is requested (i.e. if the employer asks for a cover letter, resume and salary requirements you must submit all.
    Show up on time for your interview (I cannot tell you how many people are late…I would guess about 50-60%).

    • When I was doing a lot of job hunting my rule was to multiply the estimated driving time by 3. So if Mapquest says it would take 15 minutes, I’d leave 45 minutes ahead of time. The method wasn’t foolproof, but in most cases it would give me just enough time to get there with traffic, park, sign in or whatever, and give myself 5-10 minutes to mentally prepare.

    • This is a good tip, especially about customizing your resume and cover letter 100% to the position. NOT SAYING the OP’s boyfriend is doing anything at all wrong at all, but most people I know who have been job hunting for more than 6 months have significant issues with either their resumes/cover letters or their expectations.

      That’s probably a kind of sh*tty thing for me to say, actually. It IS a tough market. I’m hunting, too (though currently employed).

    • Ditto!

      I just saw a cover letter that made all the difference – the two candidates were totally comparable in terms of experience, but one had taken the time to submit a thoughtful cover letter which, among other things, showed that she did her homework and was invested in being successful from the get-go. She got the job over the other candidate whose application included only her resume and a barely there email that basically said “see attached resume.”

      Cover letters might be a pain, but totally worth while.

    • One’s salary history has NOTHING to do with what they can/should make at the job for which they are interviewing.

    • Regarding salary history’s, you might as well give yourself a 10% raise at a minimum every time you apply for a new job. Depending on the field and your acquired experience at the time of the submission, you may even be able to go as high as 15%-20%. Bottom line, do your best not to move laterally in terms of salary. If you are applying for a new role, take your chances on challenging your new employer to an increase above your last rate from the start. FWIW, I think this rule applies to both good and bad job markets. If they think your worth it, they’ll pay it.

  • anon. gardener

    Georgetown University has its own temp agency – Hoya Staffing. Summer is usually slow, but demand picks up again in the fall, as you would expect at a university. They always seem to have a lot of openings at the law center. I guess everyone wants to work on the nice green main campus. Salaries aren’t the highest, but it is a really nice place to work, and it’s always been my go-to place when i’ve needed a job, any job, quickly.

    I can also vouch for Manpower in general. I worked for them in another state, and they always kept me working, and were good at being my advocate/keeping me employed.

  • Look for temp agencies in the field you’re SO is in. I’ve used Boss Staffing and The Creative Group in the past with good results (granted that was in the early 2000’s, but also a time when most creatives were jobless after the dotcom bust). And, CALL them. Don’t just send an email and cross your fingers. Temp agency staff are not afraid of the telephone. Once they meet and interview you, they’ll keep you in mind for future gigs. If they just get an email … not so much.

    Also, I’ve heard great things about Palmer Legal Staffing (lawyers, paralegals, law clerks, etc.) and Palmer Staffing Services (everything else).

    • The Boss Group has been super great for me. They have found me two very long term gigs back to back.
      The Creative Group is pretty terrible. For a lot of reasons to tiring to list.

  • Staffing Now was pretty good, but now that i see all the raves about Ruthi Postow…. makes me curious. i hate my job.

  • The USPTO is always hiring, and they don’t require any particular experience (though a science, technology, or arts degree is preferred). The work is really tedious and most people don’t stay there very long, so he could treat it as temp work until something better comes along. Most employers don’t consider it relevant work experience (unless you go into patent law) but it pays the bills.

  • I was really discouraged after four months of applying to everything remotely associated with my background and experience, and not receiving any interest. Though I was tightening my expenses (unemployment stinks!) I finally bit the bullet and hired a professional resume writing service to upgrade my resume and cover letter. After less than a week using the new format, it was like the flood gates opened up – I stopped getting the slip from temp agencies and also began receiving interview requests from direct hire opportunities.

    I just started my new gig this Monday, and couldn’t be happier! I used the professional resume service via Monster Jobs. It’s certainly an investment, but I was blown away with how awesome they framed my past experiences and down-played my period of unemployment. I would definitely recommend looking into it. Best of luck, I’m sending good vibes your way!

  • I used in Silver Spring, MD. They had positions all over the DC Metro area and some of the jobs weren’t bad. My roommate had luck with Keepers and liked the fact that they provide office training skills with the basic computer programs for free. I think he even was paid an hourly rate for training.

    The best way through the front door however, is networking. Network the hell out of your friends and family. It seems like an imposition, but you can make it up to them later when you are employed, making money, and secure in your job. …besides, what goes around comes around and they can hopefully come to you if their luck changes for the worst. Hopefully, it doesn’t.

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