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Over a year ago, I had just returned from my gap year, and was very, very poor. I decided to sign up with some temping agencies, while I searched for a permanent post. *Yes, I know, it took me long enough to get around to writing this review - I've only just discovered that Ciao includes recruitment agencies!* I temped for a few months with another agency, which stopped giving me work. So I decided to look for another agency. Brook Street is obviously a national chain, readers might have heard of them. I registered with the Brighton branch, there is one in Haywards Heath as well. I felt like working in Brighton, although it isn't the closest town for me to get to. It is manageable though, a whole 15 minutes by train. The consultants did seem reluctant to believe that I could mange this arduous journey. I had to convince them I was willing to work within a reasonable walking distance of the station. Agencies always do this. I suppose they need to know that you can get to work, especially if you don't drive. The registration process wasn't too painful. I was able to register on the same day I dropped in. It's always a bit tedious repeating your job history etc. (especially if you go into several agencies in one day), not to mention annooying when you have your CV with you. Their application form wasn't particularly unusual. They did the usual typing and data entry etc. tests, and the chat about what sort of work you were looking for and could do. I had by this point been temping with the other agency for my local council. The guy (technical term for a recruitment consultant) seized on this information eagerly, and convinced himself I was desparate to work in the public sector. I tried to emphasize that I was just as happy to work in the evil profit-making sector, in fact, to work for Satan himself, as long as I got paid. Recruitment agencies often try to lmit the work they'll offer you, so again, not something unique to Brook Street. I got a call a week or so later with a one day assignment, surprisingly, for a local council. This involved reception work. It turned out to be answering the phone, and being a general office dogsbody - photocopying, mailing and entering data in spreadsheets - the boring stuff no-one wants to do. It was work, I left at 5 p.m. No problem. This is another tendency of agencies. They give you a 1- or 2 - day assignment as a sort of test, you know, to make sure you're not a sociopath or drooling moron. That said, there was some doubt over the duration of the assignment. The ongoing temp had called in sick, which apparently she had done for a couple of days, and they were trying to get to the bottom of what was happening. I got a call explaining that there might be an ongoing post or there might not, and another one to say the usual girl had "recovered" and so teh job wasn't available. To their credit, Brook Street were honest and kept me informed. I got a call about part-time work in a publishing company the next week, but never heard anything more about it, although I said I'd be interested. Three weeks ish later, I got a call offering me some ongoing work, again for the council. This was one of those temp jobs which lasts until they fill the position permanently. I enjoyed the work and worked with a lovely team of people. I was actually going to apply for the permanent role, but my current employers got in first. So I had to leave them. The assignment lasted around two months, because there were complications finding a permanent employee. I was very happy with the temp assignment I was offered in the end, but I did feel I waited a long time (around a month after registering). I know Brook Street deal with a varied range of employers, in both the public and private sectors, so I am sure they could have offered me work if they weren't so set on placing me with the council. That said, at least you know what you're getting with the council, even if that means bearocracy and political correctness. You don't necessarily have that same degree of certainty with private companies. As with all agencies, I had to call Brook Street regularly to say I was still available and looking for work. If you don't, they forget about you. Once I was working, I was kept reasonably well informed about what the situation was with my job, i.e. was I required next week etc. They also phoned on my first day to check that I was happy with the job, which was impressive. They were flexible when I had to take a holiday - due to the small matter of my dad getting married, and informing of this a week before the wedding! (don't ask!) They didn't make a fuss or make me feel like a pain, and hired another temp for the duration of my holiday. I returned to my asignment (there is always the fear that they'll prefer your replacement, well, when you're as paranoid as I am!) The service was always friendly, and I never felt like "just another temp". For this reason, I would reccommend Brook Street. (Or this branch, anyway, as I'm sure the standard varies between branches). The work I ended up with was standard basic admin, which agencies always have a plentiful supply of. Equally, there are plenty of people looking for this type of work. I was offered suitable assignments, based on my experience and what I said I was looking for. The pay was £6.50 per hour, which is fairly standard. Overall, I found Brook Street a cut above the agencies who swear to call you with work "soon", and who you never hear from again.
Thanks for the comments all!
Nicole - if you live in the southeast, you might as well live in London - costs of living is much the same. 6.50 is definitely standard around here, admittedly not in the rest of the country.
Pmshack99 21.08.2005 23:24
yeah, well a agency that gives you work is a rarity! thankfully i hopefully wont have to return to an agency now ive got a permanent job but i will keep it in mind if i ever do! paula x