A reader is looking at entry-level jobs so she can build her credit history.

Question: I already work 9 to 5 as a receptionist in a doctor’s office. Now I’m looking to work 5 to 9 at some entry-level job so I can make enough money to pay off my credit cards. Why? Because I want to buy my own house someday, and I just turned 30. I want “someday” to be before I’m 40. 

Here’s my problem: Many of the jobs I’ve looked into are from “temporary staffing agencies” and “employment agencies.” Are these legit? What’s the difference? How much of my money will they take? Since I’m looking at basic jobs, it’s not like I’m going to make a lot in the first place.

— Michelle in Indiana

Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…

Don’t worry, Michelle, a reputable employment agency or temporary staffing firm won’t take any of your hourly pay. What’s the difference between the two? Employment agencies help employers find full-time, permanent workers, while temp agencies assist with short-term assignments.

It can get confusing because “temp agencies” can also place permanent workers. For instance, Manpower is a national firm that offers “temporary to permanent” assignments — which means if you do well, you might stick around for a long time.

Pros and cons

As for how Manpower makes its money, it’s not from you directly. From its FAQ: “Manpower works on your behalf to place you with some of America’s most admired companies — at no charge to you.”

So how do these employment and temp agencies make money? They charge the employers who come to them looking for talent. They usually charge the employer a percentage of your starting salary, which might make you skeptical: “I’ll be paid less than if I just got the job without going to an employment agency!”

That may be true, but here’s what usually happens: The employment agency lobbies the employer to boost the salary, both because it makes it easier to find quality talent and because it boosts the agency’s bottom line.

Still, there’s been controversy about these firms ever since the Great Recession. Jobs site Careerbuilder has reported that in the first four years after the recession, temp work accounted for 15 percent of all job growth. That contributed to what’s known as underemployment — when Americans want to find full-time work but have to settle for part-time.

In your case, Michelle, you’re simply looking for a second job for the admirable purpose of paying down your debts. You’ll become one of the 4.9 percent of employed Americans who hold a second job, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I don’t want to discourage your work ethic, Michelle, but I might suggest you review your finances to see if you really need to moonlight at all. Call us for a free debt analysis at  1-800-810-0989. If nothing else, our counselors can offer advice on how to best pay down those credit cards quickly.

Find out: How to Identify Fake Job Offers

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About the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

I’m a certified public accountant who has authored two books on getting out of debt, Credit Hell and Power Up, and I am one of the personal finance experts for Debt.com. I have focused my professional endeavors in the consumer finance, technology, media and real estate industries creating not only Debt.com, but also Financial Apps and Start Fresh Today, among others. My personal finance advice has been included in countless articles, and has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur as well as virtually every national and local newspaper in the country. Everyone should have a reason for living that’s bigger than themselves, and besides my family, mine is this: Teaching Americans how to live happily within their means. To me, money is not the root of all evil. Poor money management is. Money cannot buy happiness, but going into debt always buys misery. That’s why I launched Debt.com. I’m glad you’re here.

Published by Debt.com, LLC