What is a temping job and should you take the offer?

It’s time for another “Find a Job Like a Pro” episode and this time, let’s talk about Temping – Is it a blessing or a curse?!

Generally speaking, my recommendation when it comes to Temping is – to do it! But certain circumstances have to occur in order for Temping to make sense. While there are many good things that can happen from a Temping contract, there are also many bad things you should be aware of, and this can lead to what I call “career suicide”. Read on to find out what’s what!

You can also listen to the podcast episode over here:

What is Temping?

Temping means that your work is temporary in nature. For example, you’re coming to work for a company because somebody is going on maternity or medical leave, personal leave or whatever else the case might be. This means that the company is not looking to replace the position and person, they’re just looking for coverage while that person is out. Usually, temping lasts 3-6 months but it can also be more or less (I’ve seen a few weeks to up to 18 months!)

Contract work is really the same concept but it tends to be more project oriented. Contract work is common within technology and IT work. These projects/contracts occur when there is a project that need to be done and completed by a certain end date. So it’s not a full-time permanent need, and hence called “contract.”


When should you take on a Temping position?

Whenever you’re not working! If you’re not working and a promising temp position comes up, then seriously consider it! It should fit these criteria:

  • the work should add to your skill set and experience,
  • it has to pay somewhat comparable to what you were earning (within a 20% range up or down)
  • hopefully, it can have the option to convert to a full-time position or you can be cross-referenced for other  positions in that company.

Keep in mind that the minute you take a temping position, you take yourself off the market. So make sure that this comes with something good for you and it has a potential and positive impact for your future and career and job growth.

Don’t take a temp or contract job if you work a full time! Why would anyone in their mind quit a full-time job for a temporary position? At the end of the day, a full-time position means that the company wants you, you have good benefits, you have a future there! And many other perks. I have seen in my career as a recruiter that many will quit a full-time permanent position to take on a contract or temp role. Botton line that is the most ridiculous and reckless thing I have ever seen. It is so risky and just not a smart move.  Many potential new firms will question why you would do such a “risky” move.  So take my advice – and never quit a full-time secure role for a temp or contract role.

When you’re temp, you don’t get bonuses and many other benefits. You should have a really, REALLY good reason to even consider that. Never take on a temp job just because you’re tired of your existing position.

It can also make other firms question your logical reasoning later in your career as you explain to an employer why you left this specific firm. When you leave a stable position for a temp job, they might question your logical reasoning ability because you’ve done a really risky move!

The best time to take on a temp position is when you haven’t worked in 6 months. In that case, you do it! 

What happens when you’re not working 

When you’re not working, timing is critical! If you suddenly have a time gap in your Resume while your peers don’t, who do you think the company will want to work with? They’ll want to speak with someone who’s currently employed and working. Companies have questions about those who haven’t been working. Like “What happened there?”, “What’s the reason they haven’t worked?”. It’s easier for them to get back to the stack of Resume with people who are currently employed versus those that are not.  When you start having a big gamp on your Resume, you start to lose your marketability.

For example, if you’re out of the market for a year, so many things may have changed in the marketplace, how have you been able to keep up with this if you are not working? Industries move and shake, they’re organic and always evolving.

Therefore, after a 3-4 month pause in your work, make sure to take on an offered temp position! Or make an effort to look for some form of contract or perm work to eliminate that ever growing gap between work experience.  The longer the gap of work the more of a concern you become to a potential employer.

Make sure to include in your Resume that it’s a contract work

Whenever you’re adding this type of position on your Resume, make sure to write down that it was a temporary contract or a contract work. Otherwise, it will really make firms question you – why have you left your job after only a few months?! When you write down that it was a temp job, companies will understand that and will be more motivated to contact you!

Recently I had a candidate who was out of the job for a year for personal reasons. She had a legitimate reason but she knew that now she’s out of the market for so long it would be next to impossible to get a full-time job again compared to peers in her industry who were still working this last year that she was not.  A temporary contract option came up for her to cover someone going on maternity leave! She took on the job and when this 6-month contract will come to an end, she’ll be able to start searching for another position and then she’ll be marketable again! As now she has closed the gap of her “not working” and gained current marketable experience.


The Temping Rat-Race!

This is something I’ve seen in NY the most. For whatever reason, NY firms tend to hire people as temps at first. But then you get hired for another temp role and another and another and well… you see what happens right! This is called the “temping rat-race”. You get married to temping and every six months you have a new job! All of a sudden all agencies know that you just want to temp – and that’s it – but meanwhile your Resume becomes a big mess. Every six months there is a new job. The Resume looks awful! And now you can never really be considered for a full-time role – firms won’t be sold that you are committed or that they may think something is wrong with you that a firm never hired you for a full-time role.  So the temping rat-race can get you into big trouble so be very careful when taking on those temp roles that you focus on converting it to a full-time role asap.

At the same time, there are many people who really love it. If that’s you – then that’s awesome! You see when you become a full-time “contractor” you start commanding a high hourly billable rate (I have seen from $ 30/hour up to $ 100/hour if not more!). You become like a mini-entrepreneur. You have freedom to make your own decisions and hours – you can take on a job for few months and then take time off for a few months.  It’s up to you! So if this is you – then good for you!

So see, you can clearly now understand the good, the bad and the ugly in temping and contract. Decide what is best for you!

Remember, if you want to find a job like a pro and learn how to navigate the job hunting market then sign up for our eCourse “On Your Marks… Get Set… HIRED!” where I reveal my insider expertise and knowledge of what employers want and most importantly don’t want when hiring YOU!


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