Tuesday, January 18, 2005

On the temp trail

You can't escape them for long...

It's been a few years since I was last at the mercy of a temp agency. In fact, the agency that time put me at the NHS in Trinity where I've been on and off ever since, so there's a reason to be nervous. But thanks to the visa restrictions placed on foreigners over here a temp agency is my only way of getting employment - no 'proper' employer wants someone who can only work for 12 weeks, after all.

The other week I signed up with seven agencies - 5 online by submitting my CV, and 2 that I called as they'd been recommended by friends. I got two responses (I'll let you guess which two). I had my first meeting yesterday, so got dressed up in my Sunday best and headed over. In an anonymous office on the 17th floor of a CBD tower, I met with a bloke who fortunately for me was sympathetic with the lot of the working traveller, as he'd just come back from cycling around Vietnam.

After a chat about my skills and what I was after, he went over my CV and then had me take 'the tests' - which any temp knows only too well. Seeing as it had been years since I did the tests, I had no idea of my scores so had to take them again. They consist of a five-minute typing test, data entry test, and alphanumeric test - then a 35-question test on MS Access and another on Excel. I'm a pretty good typer, thanks to years of hurriedly-typed illicit emails, but the test was cunningly desgined to contain lots of works like disappearing, necessary, superfluous and other nightmares for spellers (I'm not sure those are right even now).

The data entry test I aced, after all those fun years typing in dental treatment forms at the NHS - I scored a 'very good' with 8816 keystrokes an hour - not that I ever want to have to do that for an hour. Fortunately for my prospective temping I also did very well on the Access and Excel tests, so maybe that's where my potential employment will be going. The bloke came back and said my results were 'excellent' and that 'with results like this, you'll be snapped up in no time'. He said things were speeding up in Sydney so much that I should have work by Monday...