Temporary jobs are helpful when you need to fill in the gaps between regular jobs, or when you just want to work for a short period of time. But when your ultimate goal is to get employed full time without an end date, you may encounter a situation in which you have to leave one job to start the other. This is generally a good thing, since it means you have two jobs instead of none. That said, you'll need to handle the situation with tact and care.
First things first, check over any written materials you got from the temp agency. If you signed a contract, read over it carefully. Some temp agencies have policies about the amount of notice that you have to provide before you can leave the job. If you break the contract, you may be asked to pay a fee. If the materials give you a time frame, it can help you determine how long before you can start your new job.
The contract may also outline the procedures in place for leaving the temp job before the agreed-upon date, such as how you're expected to alert the temp staff that you're leaving. Generally though, a phone call or email to your temp agency representative is enough to alert them to the situation. If you call the representative on the phone, also send over a note via email so that there's documentation of your effort. The temp agency representative will likely instruct you how to proceed with the current employer. The representative may want to alert the employer, since you technically work for the agency and not the company where you've been laboring. The representative will also help you confirm your final work day at the temp job.
The new employer will also want to know when you're able to start the new job. While it may be inconvenient for the employer to wait a week or two for you to start, hopefully she'll be understanding when you explain that you want to give the temp employer the respect he deserves. The new employer may appreciate your loyalty and concern for doing the right thing.
While this situation should be fairly cut-and-dried, you may encounter certain issues during the transition. If you quit the temp job and the permanent employer doesn't end up hiring you, you may be disqualified from receiving unemployment since you quit, reminds reporter Laura Bassett of the website Huffington Post. One possible way to avoid this is to ask for a pre-employment contract or hiring contract before you quit the temp job, which serves as some sort of guarantee that you'll actually start working with the employer. If you're concerned about the situation, speak with an attorney specializing in employment law.