The drawbacks of a temporary job may make you contemplate taking one or reject the idea all together. But with a recovering economy, accepting a short-term position may be the best option for ending your stay among the unemployed.
And you would hardly be alone. Since the recession ended in June 2009, temporary jobs have comprised about 19 percent of all new jobs. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures released this month, the number of temporarily employed workers in April was 2.66 million, up from 2.48 million at the same time last year.
“Companies look at employing contract workers for a number of reasons,” says Janette Marx, senior vice president at Adecco Staffing, a worldwide employment agency. She notes that the speed of hiring, flexibility in scaling the number of employees to fit company needs and giving candidates a trial period before bringing them on permanently are all positives from the perspective of the employer.
But from the vantage point of the prospective employee, the benefits of a job that doesn’t guarantee an end to unemployment may seem valueless. While the job offer on the table may only last for a short stretch, here are some reasons to seriously consider it.
Temporary work isn’t so temporary
While the recession and subsequent slow-growth period that followed created legions of temporary jobs, the length of temporary jobs has increased significantly. “Most temporary work used to be temporary by the day or week, and now a lot of the temporary work is contract in nature where people will get three, four, six month contracts,” says Daniel Feldman, associate dean for academic affairs and synovus chair of servant leadership at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.
If you’ve been unemployed for months and are down to your last dollar, a temporary job, even if it’s not linear with your career path, can break the cycle of restlessness and hopelessness you may be feeling.
“There are enormous psychological benefits of having any employment compared to unemployment even if it’s not ideal,” says Feldman, noting that a job gives structure and meaning to your life.
Regardless of your station in life, temporary work can serve you well. As a newly minted high school or college graduate, it can provide the hands-on experience you never had as a student, Feldman says. For those simply out of work, a temporary job can get people out of the house and instill a new sense of hope for returning to the labor force, he adds.
“A” job is better than “no” job
While the temporary gig may be wholly unrelated to your work history, it beats unemployment and having a résumé blanketed with long gaps in between jobs. “Even if the employment is not exactly what you want, it has some value in terms of the labor market,” Feldman says.
Temporary could become permanent
With an impressive work ethic and charming personality, you can make yourself indispensable. To reach that status, you must treat every day like an audition and put your “best foot forward,” Marx says. Arriving early, staying late when needed, taking on additional responsibility and fulfilling the goals of the role you’re filling to the betterment of the department and company are all ways to grab the attention of your employer, she adds.
Carry on with your career path
Partnering with an employment agency that specializes in your particular line of work can ensure your temporary stint is relevant to your past experiences. Feldman suggests choosing contract work wisely to make sure you are in the same industry you want to be in.
Shed light on what’s next
For those lacking a firm idea of where they’re heading, dabbling in a temporary assignment or two could help you “find the next step in your career,” Marx says.
Pick up new skills
View the job, particularly if it’s not related to your past professional life, as a means to extend your know-how and experiment with a new field. “A number of people will use temporary work to help them develop new skills or open the door to a new industry they haven’t been in before,” Marx says.
Khalid Hart, a temporary worker turned full-time employee who used Adecco’s services, wrote in an email that working in the manufacturing and telecommunications field built upon pre-existing skills. “I had a solid understanding of troubleshooting systems prior to my temporary employment, but this environment I was now working in really expanded my skills,” he writes.
Expand your contacts
The employer you’re working for may not have an opening when the stint ends, but if you made personal and professional inroads during your time there, you may leave with solid references, Marx says.
“Those connections as you continue to network [will] help lead you to that right long-term position,” she adds.
Earn respect of future employers
You may be skittish about venturing out to a different career arena, but a future company sizing up your résumé will be impressed by the decision to work in a field foreign to your expertise rather than not working at all.
Even if a temporary job isn’t in line with what you were doing before, Marx says, “it’s better from an employer’s point of view if you show that you continued to work.”
By Aureon Guerrero
Is Any Job Better Than No Job
The worst part of a job search in my experience is the powerlessness we feel. You’re sitting at your computer, researching firms and sending out resumes, and absolutely nothing is happening. You’re thinking “What else can I do? Am I invisible?” There are lots of things you can do, not only to put more irons into the fire job-search-wise but also to lower your monthly burn rate while your household income is reduced. We’ll get to those action items in a second.
I would definitely talk with your kids about your job hunt. Kids are smart. They already know Daddy is upset and Mom’s probably not her chipper self all the time either. Kids want to know, and they want to help. Talk with your wife about how to get the kids involved. You can sit down with the kids and help them understand that your family spends so much money on certain things every month, and that if the kids can help you and your wife figure out where to save money, it will make a big difference. That’s empowerment. The kids will get into it. It’s wonderful to have a kid say “Dad, I saw this new Lego on TV, but it’s expensive and so I don’t need it. I can wait.” They want to be part of the solution. Let them!
I saw a documentary about Amish families, and the little kids a year and two years old were helping with chores. They know their job in the family. It’s always been that way in human families, right up until some genius decided that kids are supposed to be protected from the real world that they feel in their bodies anyway, and kept out of grown-up economic issues. That’s insanity. Get the kids involved. It will help them, your wife and you for your family to be one super-charged problem-solving unit!
As for the survival job, there’s no Either/Or. You can have more than one ‘prong’ in your job-search strategy and it’s never a bad idea to do that. That being said, there is a lot of ground to cover between your traditional accounting positions and a ten-dollar-an-hour position at your local superstore. As an accountant you know that there are jobs it wouldn’t serve you to take, because the opportunity cost is too high. Look at what you’ve got in savings accounts, not that you want to tap those but that day might come, survival job or no, and you’ve got to know what that landscape looks like. With the kids and without them, look at your monthly expenses with a critical eye.Everything happens for a reason. Click To Tweet
I’m not a fan of keeping up appearances. If it’s practical and economically smart to shift your living situation, why not? You might find a great place to live that costs one-third less than where you’re living now, and find that you like the new neighborhood better.
My Buddhist friends tell me everything happens for a reason. I don’t want you tossing and turning at night if you could lower your monthly spend and take some pressure off your job search.
If you do take a survival job, keep the ‘career’ job search going full steam. That means you’ll need to budget your time as carefully as your money. Sign up with every temporary and project-based Accounting firm in your city. It’s tax time! You should be able to make good money doing taxes for your friends and neighbors. Do accounting for churches and preschools, or anyone else you can find. Get out there. A job search today is a contact sport.
You are awesome and powerful, even if you don’t feel that way right now. Your mojo and muscles will come back, and you can take an active part in making that happen. Do what makes you happy while you’re in this reinvention mode. Play with the kids and ride your bike. Your flame is the fuel for your job search. When you feel that you have something valuable to offer an employer, they will feel it too. When you feel beaten down and disposable — and we have all been there! — that energy will radiate from you. Growing your mojo is the most important thing you can do on your job search or, for that matter, at any time.Your flame is the fuel for your job search. Click To Tweet
he message isn’t “Oh geez, I got rejected for THAT job?” but rather “This is not your place right now.” The message is“Get back on your path The amazing rest of your life is right in front of you — go find it!”
Above all, don’t evaluate your own worth or significance based on the feedback you’re getting from the broken, toxic and headed-for-the-dustbin processes I fondly refer to as the Black Hole. Brilliant people like you are always in demand. You just have to find the right way to let hiring managers know what you bring to them. The answer is already in you. Your job now is to find it!
Adapted from an article by Liz Ryan