To Temp Or Not To Temp With A Buzz.

So, I get asked frequently; “Should I temp while looking for a job?”  First of all we’re all temps in both a literal and figurative way.    Until the early 1990’s temporary workers were for the most part clerical or hourly production jobs that were being used in that way to hide census, keep labor cost down or actually filling in for some type of leave, vacation, etc. Today, temps include virtually every profession. Doctors, engineers, CFOs, plant managers and many others are being assigned temporary roles.

As with most things there are both positive and negative implications around temporary assignments, and here are just a few to keep in mind while they’re on my mind.  Senility as my wife of for years, Linda says is setting in, and if I don’ write them down, they’ll be gone shortly.  Whatever Lisa, I’m perfectly sane.

  • Temp assignments ( go with consulting or contract if it makes you feel better about yourself) keep your skills sharp.  If you’ve been out of work and you’re are finding that your job search is taking longer than anticipated, you may become unmotivated, and less confident. These roles will give your skills and confidence level a boost while you continue your search. Be sure to tell the company where you are engaged that you are actively pursuing a permanent employment.
  • These assignments give you another way to meet new companies and people (think networking here). After they see what you are capable of, you may find yourself in a permanent job with that company or the people you’re working with may refer you to another company looking for people with the skills you’ve demonstrated.
  • If you’ve had a long run at the same place for 10+ years, you may not realize that your former competitors do thing differently.  Try to vary your assignments as this will give you a chance to learn new systems and processes. Further, it gives you strong benchmarking experience and creates a greater value proposition for you to express to potential employers.
  • Be sure to incorporate these assignments in to your resume.  It is not a negative.  You are making yourself more valuable.  Contrary to the previous thinking, employers would much rather have someone with a variety of employer relationship and assignments.  It demonstrates the ability to operate in different culture, with ambiguity, and the ability to learn quickly.
  • It’s also the best way to convert to a permanent assignment (remember there are none). Employers can check you out on the job and you can see what they are like prior to accepting the offer.  If this assignment works out, sweet! If it doesn’t, oh well…it was only a temp job.
  • Lastly on the positives, it’s a way to generate some income. Even though most assignments don’t pay as much as permanent ones some pay very well.  In any case you can’t be a 99er forever, and something is better than nothing.   There are even some consulting groups, contract employment agencies, and temporary firms that offer benefits after you work a certain number of hours.  Just sayin.
  • The only real negative to is that it may inhibit your ability to really execute on your job search.  Researching, interviewing, and networking are for the most part accomplished during the time that you may be on assignment.  However, these should not be show stopping issues, but rather something to be aware of and manage accordingly.

I’ve actually know a few that have shared with their temporary employer that they needed to take the morning  off in order to interview, and been offered a job by the company they were temping at shortly thereafter.  Oh man, I wish I could get so lucky.

Buzz Smith is SR Curmudgeon and VP Consulting Services OPI National Outplacement.  OPI National Outplacement and Career Transition Services Located in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Buzz can be reached at 865.531.9154


About Buzz Smith

Welcome. My name is Charles “Buzz” Smith and I’m the SR Curmudgeon of Consulting Services at OPI National Outplacement. My role, in addition to agitating our sales personnel, and consultants is to take the lead on delivering outplacement and career transition services that are effective. I blog about career stuff when my wife of 40 years, Linda banishes to the garden.

Posted on June 7, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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