You’ve got a great degree, your résumé is spotless, and your work experience is sound. But somehow, you can seem to find the right job. What do you do: accept temporary employment or hang in there until the perfect position comes along?
Whether you’re a recent graduate or you were laid off when your previous company downsized, sometimes it’s difficult to find the perfect permanent job. Fortunately, there’s a good alternative: working temporary positions. In fact, in the years since the 2007 recession, temporary employees have become more popular with employers who want an easily scalable workforce that doesn’t require the additional costs of benefits. It’s interesting to note that according to the American Staffing Association, in the U.S., staffing companies put an average of 3.2 million temp and contract employees to work each week in 2014. That’s a 5.4 percent increase over 2013.
Clearly, there are many positions available for people who don’t want to or can’t find a full-time, direct hire position. But it’s not just this increase in companies hiring temporary workers that makes it important to consider taking temporary positions. It’s essential to understand that temporary positions offer a number of distinct advantages that can help your situation and your career:
- A psychological boost. As Aaron Guerrero points out in his U.S. News article, “10 Reasons to Take a Temporary Job,” if you’ve been out of work for a while, a temporary position can give you the psychological boost you need to know you’re capable of landing a job. In addition, it can provide you with structure and a sense of meaning.
- The opportunity to make some money. Being able to earn a salary—even if it’s only for a few months—is usually preferable to claiming unemployment. In many cases, the salary you’ll earn will be significantly higher than your unemployment payments.
- Continuous employment on your résumé. No employer wants to see blank spaces on a candidate’s résumé, and most of us will do anything to avoid them. Temporary positions—even if they’re not directly related to our chosen profession—can fill in the gaps and show employers you’re motivated and willing to work.
- Opportunities to gain work experience. Many companies aren’t hiring permanent employees in order to keep their overhead low—but that doesn’t mean that the temporary workers they employ aren’t skilled. On the contrary, contingent workers are increasingly important assets since many highly qualified workers such as engineers and life sciences professionals prefer to work on a project-by-project basis. It’s entirely possible to find temporary employment in your professional field that can help you gain relevant work experience.
- The chance to sample various industries. Temporary work allows you to try out employment in a variety of industries. For example, if you’re an IT specialist, you could work in an e-commerce company, a healthcare organization, and a call center before you finally find the field that you like best.
- The ability to test the waters at a specific firm. If you’ve always dreamed of working at a specific company, accepting a temporary position will enable you to find out what it’s like to work there. In addition, it can also let you get a foot in the door for when a permanent position opens up.
- The chance to keep your knowledge current and learn new skills. The worst thing about being unemployed is that your knowledge can quickly become outdated. Temporary work lets you flex your professional muscles to keep them strong, as well as learn new skills that can be of use in your career.
- Build your professional network. According to Kerry Hannon in her Forbes article “Why Temporary Work Is Worth It,” you can build and expand your professional network while working temporary jobs. And the contacts you make can be of use to help you find out about more job opportunities, as well as function as your references for future applications.
Considering these advantages, it’s obvious that temporary work can be a good solution when a permanent contract remains out of sight. Moreover, if you find a staffing agency that can continuously place you in positions that match your expertise, you might even get the benefits associated with a permanent contract.