Why temporary jobs can help your long-term career
While the economy has been improving over the past few years, some employers are still cautious when it comes to hiring full-time workers. Instead, they're turning to temporary help to fill their immediate staffing needs. According to a CareerBuilder survey predicting 2013 hiring trends, 40 percent of employers plan to hire temporary and contract workers in 2013, up from 36 percent in 2012.
That's good news for job seekers considering temporary employment. There are many reasons why someone may seek a temporary job; being unemployed, having trouble finding a full-time position and looking for flexibility are just a few. Whatever the motivation may be, temporary employment can be a rewarding experience that could lead to a long-term career.
The benefits of temporary employment
Temporary work can be mutually beneficial for both the employer and the job seeker. It's a good solution for employers who aren't ready or able to hire permanent staff, and it's also a way for them to "try before they buy," or determine whether temporary workers would be a fit with their organization.
From the job seeker's perspective, there are many advantages as well. Here are just a few:
Fills employment gaps: If you've been unemployed for a long time, employers may want to know what you've been doing to fill the gap between jobs. Temporary work is a great way to do that. Employers will be impressed that you're using your time productively, while gaining additional experience that could help you in your next job.
Provides a steady paycheck: Temporary work also comes with financial benefits. You may be looking for a permanent job, but in the meantime, temporary employment can provide a steady income and help curb any financial concerns you may have from being out of work. "Compensation is typically higher for contractors because they are paid by the hour as opposed to a set salary," says Stuart Coleman, partner and senior general manager at WinterWyman Contract Staffing. "If the job requires overtime, that time is compensated, unlike the same hours for a salaried employee ... Contracting also provides some income while being unemployed and gives the person the flexibility to continue looking for a permanent job."
Builds your skills: With temporary employment, you can work in a variety of settings. This affords you the opportunity to learn how different companies operate and gain new skills that you might not have otherwise acquired if you worked full time. Trying out different roles can also help you determine what it is that you like to do. Maybe you always thought you wanted to be in finance, but after temping at a sales-driven company, you realize you're good at customer service and enjoy the rush of making a sale.
Boosts your network: Temporary positions are a good way to meet and connect with new people professionally. Establishing relationships with your colleagues can be beneficial, should you have an opportunity to work there permanently down the road. Also, your new contacts can provide job leads, connect you with other people in the industry or serve as job references.
Potential for permanent placement: If a full-time job is what you're after, a temporary position may help you achieve that goal. Among the employers surveyed by CareerBuilder who plan to hire temporary workers in 2013, 42 percent expect to transition some temporary workers into full-time, permanent employees throughout the year.
"A lot of temporary positions evolve into offers of permanent employment," says Jeanine Hamilton, president of Boston-based staffing firm Hire Partnership. "Sometimes the employer doesn't have a permanent opening at first, but by getting inside the company, the temporary worker may rise to the top of the candidate list when one opens up. Other times, the temporary worker does such a good job in their role that the employer makes an effort to retain them by finding a permanent position within the company."
How to find temporary work
So how do you go about finding temporary employment? You can start by using an online job board. Usually job sites let you narrow your search so you can look for just temporary or contract work. From there, you can include additional keywords such as category or location.
You can also enlist the help of a staffing firm that can do the heavy lifting for you. Staffing professionals are well-connected and knowledgeable about local employment prospects and can speak with potential employers on your behalf. Some staffing firms specialize in employment for a particular industry, such as information technology or marketing, which can help you find opportunities in your areas of interest. What's more, their services are free, and since they usually get paid when they make placements, it's an incentive for them to find you work. The American Staffing Association provides resources for job seekers interested in working with staffing firms.
"Staffing agency recruiters are focused on finding you opportunities that leverage your skills and meet your desired interests, so it's important to represent yourself clearly and help them understand your strengths and needs," says Aaron Green, president of Professional Staffing Group. "Candidates should take ownership of their job search by being prepared and practiced before interviews and researching the job market to set reasonable goals."
When searching for temporary jobs, it's important to keep an open mind, because you never know where an opportunity might lead you. "The more flexible someone is about the type of position they'd consider, the more opportunities they will hear about," Green says.
Debra Auerbach is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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