Temporary Work and Work Experience - More than a Stopgap

Assured Angel By Assured Angel, 13th Jun 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Jobs>Careers

Temporary work is something that companies and individuals are looking to due to the current climate of cutbacks, uncertainty and shortages. It can be mutually beneficial to the company as it does not have an expensive outlay and it is good for the worker to increase their skills and knowledge.

How temporary work and work experience can help

Whether you are just graduating from college or a seasoned professional, temporary work should be something that is given its fair due. Sure, it would be better to have the security of a permanent job, but the usefulness of temp work should not be underestimated. In my working life, I have had quite a few temporary positions, most of them whilst I was in university. I registered with several employment agencies and would pretty much tell them when I was coming home for the holidays and how long I would be there. This would give them the time to set something up before I came home. So I worked during the summer vacation (3 months), Easter Holidays (1 month) and even Christmas (though not Christmas Day). This meant that by the time I graduated from university, I had about a year’s experience in administration--which has been the basis of my careers so far. All of this practical experience was consolidated when I studied for my Masters of Business Administration (MBA) in 2005.

There is an argument that jumping from temp job to temp job may put some employers off because it shows an inability to stick to a job; but it depends on the context. If you temp just because you get bored easily, this will come out not just in your CV but in your interview, if and when you get that far. On the other hand, thoughtful presentation of these short-term positions can show initiative and a keenness to learn. An excellent example of this is working during in a recession. In a financial downturn, businesses lay people off and are not keen to take people on--especially not long-term--leaving many to seek alternatives. If, during this time, you seek short-term assignments, this will not only help you gain useful experience, it will help provide a useful income whilst you look for something else.

When looking for temporary work, you will more than likely be using a recruitment agency (also known as employment agency). Many of them specialise in both temporary and permanent work, but temporary work is more popular. This is because more companies tend to prefer using temporary workers and they are easier to place. (It should also be noted that for the agencies, placing a permanent worker gains them a one-time fee, but placing a long-term temp provides them with ongoing income.) Furthermore, businesses tend to need someone to start almost immediately which is ideal for someone keen to get into work. In addition to this, if you find permanent work, you do not need to give as much notice when working in a temporary assignment.

Many people can be put off by the thought of temporary work because of the perception that all they will be doing is boring filing and making tea--things that more serious workers don’t want to do. Yes, there are positions like that, but by and large, this is untrue. There are companies out there, looking for people to carry out a number of roles. Many of them seek temps who can hit the ground running in real-life projects, honing existing skills and developing new ones. It is important to document the responsibilities of the role as well as any achievements. As you move from position to position (because temporary positions can last anywhere from a few days to a few months), this will be essential, because future employers will want to see some continuity in how you have developed throughout your career to date.

Sometimes a position that is advertised as a temporary vacancy can lead to a permanent position, and employers can use the initial period of the assignment as a probationary period after which they decide whether to keep you on or not. Employers do not want to lose someone that they have come to regard as an asset and spend money and time looking for someone else. So temping can definitely pay off in the short and the long term.

Temporary work can be used as a springboard into newer and better things. It is important to have balance when doing temporary work. It raises red flags when you spend three-quarters of your working life in temporary jobs. It can demonstrate an inability to commit to something and indecisiveness which fails to impress potential employers. Having some temporary work to fill a gap or learn new skills is always welcome, but only if they are few and far between more longer-term work. The recession has made this an attractive option and if done right, it can open doors for you.


Career, Career Change, Skills, Temporary Work, Work, Work Experience

Meet the author

author avatar Assured Angel
Talented and experienced freelance writer/ businesswoman with a legal background whose engaging, confident but professional attitude is reflected in her writing.
I have also written extensively (over 100 articles) and continue to do soon many subj...(more)

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