Post Academic


The Pros of Temp Jobs

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on December 20, 2010
Tags: , ,

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionThe number of temporary jobs in this economy is rising, while the number of full-time jobs is staying flat. That may seem like a bummer, but a temporary job could be perfect for a post academic. A temp or contract worker is much more likely to go from temp to full-time than an adjunct is to go from part-time to tenure-track prof.

You have nothing to lose by going the temp route. Not all temp jobs are Dilbert-esque wastes of time. I’ve had a few temp jobs, and not all of them resulted in full-time gigs, but I got one of the best full-time jobs I ever had by starting as a contract worker. These tips might help you turn a temp gig to your advantage.

Calculate the right hourly wage. The big downside of a temp job is the lack of health insurance, of course. Some of the bigger agencies will let you buy into a plan, but you usually have to be working for them for a while. You can offset the financial damage by asking for a higher hourly wage. Since the company that eventually hires you as a temp doesn’t have to pay your benefits, chances are good that you will get the money you want. Just set a budget, determine what you’ll need to get by and don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Contact multiple staffing agencies. Some staffing agencies are better than others. Usually, all you need to do is look up an agency and ask for an appointment. Just tell them your specialty (coding, editing, whatnot), and they’ll ask you to come in and take some computer-based tests. I am not endorsing any companies, but, if you’re wondering where to start, two of the bigger names in creative work are Aquent and the Creative Group, but there are a lot of other agencies that might offer a niche that fits your skills better.

More after the jump! Image of a cubicle farm by Asa Wilson from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

Get to know people like you’re full-time. Temps can get lost in the shuffle sometimes, but when I’ve temped, I’ve tried to be pleasant and helpful. I also treated tasks as if I were a full-time employee. On the other hand, if you can’t stand the place, you can always ask your contact at the temp agency if you can be moved.

Drop hints that you’d like to stay. If you get a temp job that you like, let the people who hired you know. They might not give you a job because of the budget, but if an opening appears you’ll move higher on the list for going full-time. Otherwise, they might assume that you’ll leave as soon as the contract ends, or they might assume that you prefer working on contract. Some people do since it allows for more flexible vacation time, but your temp boss won’t know that unless you say something.

While temping, you’ll probably have some jobs that are duds, but look at it this way: You’re gaining experience and making connections while getting paid. Not bad.

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2 Responses to 'The Pros of Temp Jobs'

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  1. Timely advice, as always! I’ve been thinking more about this option lately; I’ve done it before and if you’re the competent type (which it seems like post-academics would be) it certainly boosts the chances being hired permanently.

  2. Judy Crouse said,

    I worked for twenty five years as a temp off and on at 102 different positions’. I worked for 66 different companies of which 23 have gone out of business. I even worked inside a few agencies. I have written a book about my experiences and hope that my readers will take away from my exercises, what not to do, and how to obtain work without relying on these agencies. I have tried to tell my tales with humor, giving credit where credit is due. I am on Facebook and I would love to hear from you. Judy M Crouse My booked is entitled Temp Tales an Expose’! It is available at http://www.friesenpress.com.


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