By Kerry Hanon
Recently, the big online job site, CareerBuilder, released a Harris Interactive survey that showed that more than a third of American companies are operating with smaller staffs than before the recession.
To keep business trucking along, 36 percent of companies will hire contract or temporary workers in 2012, up from 28 percent in 2009, according to the survey of more than 3,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals.And nearly a third of those employers want to hire before April. “Temporary jobs from staffing and recruiting firms are playing an increasingly important role in the economic recovery,” according Eric Gilpin, president of CareerBuilder’s Staffing & Recruiting Group.
Based on CareerBuilder’s data, the following are examples of staffing and recruiting positions currently in demand: Occupational or Physical Therapist and Speech Language Pathologist, Java or .Net Developer, Network Engineer, Administrative Assistant, Customer Service Representative and Business Analyst.
I get it. From the employer’s perspective, hiring temporary workers simply makes sense in many circumstances. They can staff up for short-range project without the price tag of healthcare and other benefits. And in this employment market, they can attract the crème de la crème. These are often workers who have been downsized, or taken early retirement packages. Once the dust clears, they discover they either need or want to keep working. Is this a good thing? It certainly can be. As a career transition expert, I view temporary work as a perfect chance for a career switcher to try on different hats, work in various types of businesses, even add new skills and experience.
A temporary, “dip in the pool” assignment lets you get a feel firsthand if this is something you really want to do. I always tell people who ask my advice on changing careers–do the job first-moonlight, apprentice, volunteer. If you can get paid for a temporary gig, go for it. That’s the only way you’ll know if the new career is all you dreamed it would be.
But even if you aren’t thinking of career changing, here are other reasons why a temporary assignment may be worth it.
- Gets you out of bed in the morning. You’ve got something to do.
- Gets you in the door. It may lead to full-time work with an employer eventually. Don’t miss the opportunity.
- Gets you decent pay. You can make your experience a plus. Employers are typically willing to pay you generously, providing you have the chops, if you solve their problem or need quickly. It lets them bypass the hand-holding and learning curve stage that a younger, less experienced, but lower-paid worker, might require.
- Builds your professional network. Nurture relationships with co-workers during your assignment. You never know where a contact may lead you, and who they might be able to refer you to for future jobs.
- Lands you new and au courant references for future employers to contact about what you’ve been up to lately.
- Keeps your resume alive. It’s a bone to stave off the disgrace of those gaping holes of idleness in your resume.
- Keeps your skills sharp. You know the mantra: Use it or lose it.
- Lets you get psyched about a work project–without the pressure of long-term expectations. No job is forever, anyway. This one just might be shorter than most, and that can be tremendously freeing
You can’t expect that temporary or contract positions will lead to a full-time or on-going position. I know that. If it is a job or a company that turns you on, though, you can subtly let it be known that you’d love an opportunity to be considered for a full-time position should things change. And, please, don’t take it personally, if it doesn’t. It’s not about you…it’s about them.
Even if it’s just what it claims to be, a temp job, you still win in my experience. First, it might be just the flexible work schedule you’re looking for. Secondly, if it’s a full-time job you really want, it still has your back.
When you’re making money, the truth is you feel better about yourself. You feel valued. It builds confidence. That’s far healthier than shooting out resumes and not getting a single response. And seriously, you never know what might come your way when you back away from the computer screen.
A final tip: Hone your yarn-spinning. Even if the assignment was the pits, and that’s always possible, find a clever to use it in a future job interview. It can be a great example of your work ethic, ability to helicopter in and solve a problem, or fill a professional need for a company. Make the time spent part of your personal career story. Poetic license.