According to the United States Department of Labor, temporary employees make up more than 2% of the total workforce. While the percentage may seem insignificant, 2% is equal to roughly 3 million people and is almost double the number of people employed in temporary positions in 2009. Contrary to what you might think, these jobs are not all mundane office support work, either. Many are skilled positions such as HR professionals, administrative assistants, marketing professionals, account executives, and registered nurses.
So, why are we seeing a shift in the number of employers providing temp positions and employees happy to take them? Indeed, temporary positions often lack the paid benefits and stability of full-time employment. However, they present unique opportunities for workers to explore new industries, learn new skills, and bolster their resumés. For many unemployed Americans, the potential benefits unquestionably outweigh any drawbacks.
Benefits of Temporary Work
Often, employers hire temporary employees due to staffing needs that are transient themselves. A time-sensitive project or seasonal increase in customer demand may require adding staff to the team for a time. Similarly, an employee taking an extended period of leave may need their position covered in their absence. In these cases, there is a defined length of time during which extra employees are necessary. While a job offer for only a few weeks or months may deter some applicants, others may relish the chance because it presents a unique opportunity that only exists for temporary personnel.
For many applicants just entering the workforce, lack of relevant experience in the job market can be a barrier standing between them and their ideal job. Temporary positions provide an excellent way to gain that experience. This type of work can be especially advantageous for those looking to change the type of work they do.
Employers are often less particular about a temporary employee’s background training and previous employment than a permanent one. An employer in a bind may be willing to train employees in new skills and software to fill open positions quickly. Working in various settings can also help to hone existing skills. Performing the same duties in a different environment can shed new light and offer new insights. Employees may learn novel ways to approach tasks and overcome challenges.
Temporary positions are also an invaluable way to fill resumé gaps. After being laid off, it may take six weeks or more to procure an offer from a desirable company. Potential employers cannot determine from glancing at your resumé how you have spent your time away from the office. Have you been pounding the pavement looking for work or binging television shows on the couch? Filling these employment gaps with temporary positions illustrates your initiative to continue working and applying (or expanding) your skills to your chosen field.
Test the Waters
A temp-to-hire position offers the option for employers and employees to “try before they buy.” Recruiting, training, and onboarding permanent employees costs time and money, and many new hires leave in the first year of employment. Temp-to-hire positions allow employers to offer applicants a job typically from three to six months. In some cases, an option to extend their contract, should they prove a valuable asset to the company occurs. However, should either party decide that the arrangement is not working, they may terminate the relationship without much loss.
During this trial period, new employees can get a feel for the company culture, working environment, and benefits. They can decide if the position is fulfilling and whether or not they can achieve their goals working for this company. They can explore career paths before becoming fully vested in the training, certifications, or work experience required.
Some workers may decide to pursue temp jobs as a lifestyle choice. This unconventional type of employment works well for those who thrive on change. It often offers a better work/life balance. Workers are not tied to one company and the opportunities it provides. They are free to dabble in multiple lines of work and explore working with many different people in diverse work environments. By experiencing the best and worst of many offices, they can ultimately determine what they are looking for in an ideal job.
Shorter Time to Hire
The need for temporary employees can sneak up on employers. New start-ups may take off sooner than anticipated, or the holiday season may be a big windfall with government stimulus checks on the horizon. They may need more employees than they planned to meet customers’ needs.
Under these constraints, employers may not have the luxury of waiting for the perfect candidate to walk through their door. They may have to be more flexible with their expectations and more willing to train applicants who can demonstrate their drive to work hard and learn tasks quickly. This faster hiring process can work to the advantage of those with potential who may lack experience or knowledge. It can offer them a foot in the door.
It would be wrong to assume that every temporary position leads to a permanent one. Often, employers really only need someone to cover for a few weeks. Their payroll cannot support more staff than they need. However, the possibility of being hired permanently is often there. Choosing to take a temporary position at a coveted company may allow workers the opportunity to prove their worth and eventually make their way up the ranks to build a fulfilling career.
However, even if the position closes at the end of the six-week contract, they will have gained valuable experience that may help them make a lateral move to another company with similar opportunities. Working for different companies within the same sector also promotes networking. Temporary employees reap the benefits of working with leaders and innovators at each job they accept, building a network of business contacts that may prove useful down the road.
Some may believe that temporary employees get the short end of the stick when it comes to opportunities and benefits. However, as the job market expands to include more temporary and temp-to-hire positions, the landscape continues to change. If temporary staffing sounds like an intriguing option for you or your company, contact a temporary staffing firm. They are your best ally in your search for temporary jobs. Agencies like PrincePerelson with offices in Utah County and Salt Lake, are uniquely integrated into the area’s job market. They can advise you about resumés, interviews, and salary expectations in Utah and guide your search whether you are looking to hire or to be hired.