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Looking for Work? Try a Temp Job

Hiring is brisk for temporary workers, with plenty of high-skilled jobs that can lead to full-time positions

By Julie Shifman

If you’re trying to find work and haven’t considered a temp job, now is the time.

While many employers are reluctant to hire permanent staffers, temp hiring is up.

Maybe you’ve scoffed at the notion of looking for temp work, thinking it’s only for low-level administrative jobs. Not so.

(MORE: Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs)

Today’s temporary jobs are far from menial labor. They're often high-skilled positions in such fields as health care, technology, engineering, law and accounting. IT professionals are especially in demand right now.

Temping no longer carries a stigma. In fact, having a temporary job can actually help you find a full-time job, for four reasons:

1. It prevents prospective employers looking for full-time workers from dismissing your resumé because you are unemployed. A temporary job looks like any other job on a resumé; there’s no reason to indicate it’s temporary.

2. If your temp work is impressive, that employer just might offer you a full-time job. When a permanent job opens up where you're temping, it makes sense that the employer would first consider a well-vetted, well-liked person over an unknown.

Kim Dubé-Sena, senior recruiter for Kao USA (which owns brands like Jergens and John Freida), says “hiring someone who started out as a temp is advantageous for us as an organization, because we are already familiar with their skill sets and they have already developed relationships with our employees.” For the temp workers, Dubé-Sena says, “every day becomes a chance to show the company what they bring to the table.”

3. A temporary job creates a natural job-search network. When you have a temporary position, you meet other workers who might connect you with people they know who are hiring. A personal introduction to a hiring manager can be the difference between getting a job interview and not.

4. Exposure to a new company can expand your skill set and broaden your insights. You'll likely learn new ways of doing things that could help make you a stronger candidate for a full-time job.

Temp jobs have a few downsides, though: They’re less likely to come with health insurance or retirement benefits, they often pay less than what full-timers earn for comparable jobs, and it’s harder to form work friendships, since your colleagues think you may soon be gone.

Most of all, they offer very little job security. You could be hired to cover an employee out on a six-week maternity leave or to work on a six-month project.


Finding a Temporary Job

Some of the techniques for snagging a temporary job are the same as those for obtaining full-time work: Have a well-crafted resumé, use social networking networking sites like LinkedIn, and check job websites such as CareerBuilder and Monster.

But there are also a few things you can do specifically on a temp-job hunt:

Connect with firms that specialize in temporary staffing. Most cities have a few. Below are the largest national temporary-placement firms; their sites will say whether there are open positions in your city and your field:

Look for staffing firms that specialize. There are now recruiters who focus on temp jobs exclusively for professionals, executives and creative types, or for workers looking for shorter hours than full-time jobs require.

  • Flexible Executives finds temp work for seasoned, vetted professionals across a range of business disciplines, from lawyers to marketing execs to writers.
  • Mom Corps focuses on firms with flexible workplace arrangements, such as telecommuting and modified workweeks.
  • Ten til 2 calls itself “the part-time placement firm” and lists jobs for professionals looking for long-term, part-time temp work at reduced hours.
  • Lease-An-Exec does just what its name suggests. It fills the need of smaller companies that can’t afford to hire full-time executives but want to bring in top management on a temporary basis.
  • Aquent has postings for temporary marketing, creative and digital placements.
Julie Shifman is an inspirational keynote speaker, career coach and the author of Act Three: Create the Life You Want, which is available on and in bookstores. You can buy a signed copy at her website. Read More
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