As I blearily send off today’s strip to our e-mail subscribers this morning, I got a question that surprised me. What is a staffing agent? Well, the demagraphic for Scooter and Ferret is mainly professionals between the ages of 20 and 34. Not that other people can’t occasionally find a gag they like, but the basic story is, Ferret and Scooter are X-er age and they deal with X-er problems. Namely, the constant struggle we go through to stay employed. And most of us stay employed through a staffing agent, who fills either contract or temp positions for employers large and small. Microsoft hires most of their IT, designers, and management through staffing firms at least to start with. So did IBM and scores of other large companies. Small firms also do it. Programming professionals in Seattle often go through Volt (most of the IT guys I know at Microsoft were theirs). I have personally done work for Art Source, IDR in Atlanta, and my personal favorite, Big Fish. Big Fish has some great hard working people in it, and my experience with the callous agents is not applicable to them. It’s more applicable to some of Seattle’s other firms, but even more so, the countless temping firms that hire warm bodies for office work and manufacturing.

Scott and I have met many people our age toiling away for agencies while patiently waiting for full-time work they can really count on. We’ve met engineers temping in manual labor, programmers hopping from one company to another, artists taking contracts here and there to make ends meet, and countless numbers of agents. This is not my favorite corporate practice; so many companies these days find contractors so much less of a commitment. Employees have to be provided for, contractors don’t get benefits or the assurance of having a job next week. Two friends of mine have recently lost their jobs and are hearing about how nicely contractors are treated, and I wish it were so. The typical contractor is young, struggling, and I hope, reading Scooter and Ferret.

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