Temporary work as a career option? 6 myths, 6 realities

By Robert Half on 22 December 2020

As the employment market continues to absorb the various impacts of the coronavirus, many jobseekers are searching for permanent roles as they prioritise job security. COVID-19, however, has resulted in many companies putting on hold their recruitment plans for permanent staff. Instead, more managers are open to hiring interim workers and contractors, driven by the demand for specific technical and analytical skillsets and the need to maintain business continuity.

While some jobseekers might be hesitant to take on jobs on a temporary and contracting basis, many have embraced the benefits, helping to dispel the persistent myths surrounding temporary work.

First, what are the benefits of taking on temp or contracting work as a career option?

  • A variety of engagements that allow jobseekers to hone existing skills and develop new ones as they build their resumes
  • Exposure to a diverse set of professionals — critical for building strong networks
  • Financial freedom that allows workers to be more selective about the full-time opportunities they may apply for while they’re generating income
  • A flexible schedule for those who want to spend more time with their families or focus on a hobby or other interest

And second, here are six misconceptions about temporary work we want to set the record straight about.

Myth 1: Temporary work is low-level

Reality: As the needs of businesses and workers have changed over the years, the temporary industry has evolved with specialised contractors being in high demand. Companies have found they can readily gain access to highly skilled professionals who supply specialised expertise for immediate and long-term projects. Should they have entry-level positions to fill, they have access to candidates at this stage in their careers, as well.

Myth 2: Temp work will hurt my prospects of getting hired

Reality: Quite the contrary. Many businesses view interim hiring as a way to evaluate individuals for full-time positions. To bridge gaps, they’re bringing in the most accomplished interim professionals they can find using a temp-to-hire strategy. They evaluate the skills and workplace-culture fit of these individuals with an eye toward making them full-time employees.

Myth 3: Temporary work is short term, sporadic and low paying

Reality: Although project consulting can offer the option of working fewer hours than a full-time role might require, highly skilled professionals usually find they can work as much as they want. In fact, many temporary professionals and contractors work the equivalent of full-time hours when they choose this career option. Also, temporary assignments can last from a few days to more than a year.

As for wages, many temporary positions pay on par with permanent ones, and individuals with the most sought-after skills can often command a premium.

Myth 4: You can’t include temporary work on a resume

Reality: As the temporary industry has grown and expanded, interim assignments have come to be viewed more as high-level consulting projects and less like entry-level positions. Hiring managers understand that project work provides valuable experience that enhance a candidate’s abilities.

Myth 5: You can’t develop new skills when choosing this career option

Reality: Professionals who work on a temporary or contracting basis are often involved in projects that are as interesting and challenging as those they might encounter in permanent positions.

Myth 6: If you're working, you can’t continue your job search

Reality: Depending on how much you choose to work, you may need to make some adjustments as to how and when you conduct your job search, but it shouldn’t be too difficult. It may involve simply shifting your networking and research activities into the early morning or evening hours, or possibly during your lunch break.

Also, keep in mind that your temporary assignment can help you advance your job search. You never know when a position might open at the company where you’re working. Or you might meet people during the course of your assignment who are willing to recommend you for a position in their network.

So now you know: You can do rewarding work, make a major impact in companies and build a rewarding career when you choose temporary or contracting work as a career option. So get started!

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