Is Permanently Temp Work
Right for Your Career?


“They’ve asked me to do this temporarily. I don’t know what temporarily means. Life is temporary.”

~ Bob Schieffer ~

Client Patrick Asks: Does it every make sense to just make a career out of temping? Does this make me look like I can’t hold or don’t want a “real” job—that I lack ambition?

Coach Joel Answers: That depends on your life situation and your personal motivations. For example, if you like the freedom to work when you want and pursue other interests at the same time, temping is ideal. Sometimes temping can give you a higher rate of pay, but it often lacks the benefits and job security of full time employment. You could easily work fewer hours and make more money, so that makes it attractive. And many people like the challenge of getting acquainted with new companies, new people, new responsibilities.

Here are a few more benefits to add into the equation, if you’re considering a long term career as a temp.

  1. Temping enhances your resume. It shows you have a variety of skills, as well as the ability to fit easily into different environments.
  1. Temping enhances your network. You’ll meet a lot more people, get to know them and get them to know you through working temporary assignments. Who knows when the guy in the next cubicle can open the door to a whole new career or even introduce you to your future spouse?
  1. Temping keeps your skill set sharp. You know that sign on the wall at the gym—”Use it or lose it?” The same thing applies to your professional abilities. Often you go into a new assignment wondering how in the world you’ll every figure it out. Then you do, and there’s another win you can tell future employers about.
  1. Temping can facilitate a major career change. Let’s say you’ve spent your life so far in sales but you see a brighter future in IT. Maybe you’ve taken some courses or gotten some volunteer experience, but you’ve got no track record. If you can land yourself a temporary position, even at an entry-level wage, you’ll start building toward the career you really want.

In today’s economy, temping makes a lot of sense from the employer point of view as well. According to research conducted by Forbes, 36 percent of US companies will hire contract or temporary workers this year, up from 28 percent in 2009, according to the survey of more than 3,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals. They are maintaining their productivity while reducing their risk. That presents a tremendous opportunity to someone like you. If temping feels like a good place to be, I’d say go for it.

If you think temping may have potential for you, make a list of five action items you could do this week that would get you started down the temporary path.

Talkback: Are you (or have you been) a successful temp? How did you do it? Share your best advice here.

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