Why Not Temp?

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Posted by Lindsey Pollak on June 19, 2011
Why Not Temp?

When students think about graduating and starting to hunt for jobs, many overlook the possibility of temping.  But corporate recruiters kept mentioning this option as a great way for young people to gain experience and skills, so we started to pay attention.

There is one overwhelming advantage to temp jobs: almost anyone can get one at any time.  This means no long interview process, no recruiting dinners, no salary negotiation.  The other major upside is that temp jobs are, obviously, temporary, so you're not making a major lifetime commitment.

What's intriguing about temping is that it's like being an intern-you are able to gain on-the-job, in-the-office experience-but the length of commitment is up to you.  And you're likely to have some choice in what temp position to accept: according to the Occupational Outlook Quarterly in 2006, the temporary services industry is projected to grow quickly over the next decade.  And, in even better news, the Quarterly reports that businesses are not only using more temporary help, but also relying on temp workers to fill a wider variety of positions: "Traditionally, temporary jobs have been in office and administrative support, production, and transportation and material moving occupations-and there are still many jobs in these fields. But today, an increasing number of jobs are in occupations, such as computer programmers, lawyers, or registered nurses, that require higher education and command greater pay."

Let's look at some tips for being a tactically minded temp:

Get a temp job that will help your career prospects:

  • Temp in an industry that interests you.  Do your research to find temp agencies that specialize in the industries you think-or know-you might want to work in full-time.  Then, you'll gain experience in that industry through your temp job, and you'll be in a better position to raise your hand if a job opportunity arises while you're temping. 
  • Temp in a major corporation.  If you're unsure of what industry you'd like to work in, do your best to get a temp job in a major corporation.  The good news is that corporations are more likely to hire large numbers of temps.  Why is it helpful to temp at a corporation?  Employers are always impressed by "brand name" corporate experience because of the level of professionalism found in large, respected companies.  Even if you're just sitting at the reception desk of such a company, or unpacking boxes in a back room, you'll still be exposed to how such companies run and what the environments are like.  That's experience you can use to begin to determine if corporate life is for you, and even mention in a corporate job interview if you choose to pursue that route.

Make the most of a temp job once you have it:

  • Think like an intern-or, better yet, an employee.  Just like an internship, any work opportunity, even a temp experience, is a chance to show your skills, meet people, and learn about the Real World.  You never know who's around the corner watching.or hiring.   
  • Be positive.  In full-time job interviews or any time you talk about your temp work, be positive about the experience.  You can probably guess that saying, "I graduated without a job and would have taken anything at that point!" is not the best strategy.  Instead, talk about the best experience and skills you gained from temping-exposure to the corporate environment, learning about different functional roles at the company, etc.


About the author: Lindsey Pollak is a bestselling author, speaker, and blogger specializing in career advice for college students and young professionals. She is the author of Getting from College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World and writes the top-rated Lindsey Pollak Career Blog. Lindsey is also the career contributor for ABC News on Campus, has written for Marie Claire magazine and Metro New York newspaper, and frequently speaks at universities and corporations across the country. She is a graduate of Yale University.

This article was excerpted from College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World. To learn more, visit www.LindseyPollak.com

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