Is Temp Work Right For You?
Is Temp Work Right For You?

Meg hasn't held a steady job for a year, and she likes it that way. She works as a contract worker, writing and editing technical service manuals for a Silicon Valley firm. She's happy to be one of the thousands of temporary workers in North America.

Today, people have many employment choices, including temp work. Temporary services are booming. Temp employment can be a source of flexible, fulfilling work that can provide a bridge to full-time employment. According to research, one-third of temp employees prefer this arrangement over traditional employment options.

Are you suited to temporary employment?
Answer "yes" or "no.” I like . . .

  1. Trying different kinds of work.
  2. Working where and when I choose.
  3. Earning good or extra money.
  4. Investigating a company before making a long-term commitment.
  5. Developing new skills.
  6. Meeting new people.
  7. Adapting to new situations and surroundings.

Five or more yes responses suggest you may enjoy temp work. Temporary employment can benefit both workers and client companies.
Because companies must constantly shift gears to meet the changing demands of the global marketplace, they need to have 10 to 20 percent of their work force as temporary. The Conference Board (a business intelligence organization that distributes information about management and the marketplace) found that about 90 percent of U.S. businesses use temp workers to meet demand periods, cover employee absences, and work on special projects. Companies also like to observe temps during a trial period to determine their suitability for permanent positions.
More than three million temporary and contract employees work for America’s staffing companies during an average week. During the course of a year, North America’s staffing companies hire nearly 17 million temporary and contract employees.
Companies find that effective use of temporary staffing can increase productivity and profit levels. Many organizations prefer using staffing firms to find suitable employees over posting job wanted ads. Employers tend to hold temp workers to as high a standard as they do full-time employees.
Many staffing firms offer competitive benefit packages which include medical insurance and bonus pay. Cash awards, gift certificates and free lunches for top employees are other perks. Opportunities to acquire computer or other skills are added benefits.
Varied types of workers seek the assistance of the 19,000 staffing offices nation wide. These include burned-out professionals who want to try something else, homemakers re-entering the work force, and people who need second jobs to meet expenses. Opportunities abound for engineers, financial analysts, word processors, human resources personnel, and varied managerial levels and health professionals. 
Temp jobs can last from a day to several months. The average tenure is 10 weeks. Many temp or contract workers stay much longer. A number get hired permanently.
People select temporary employment for many reasons. It can be a bridge to a full-time job and relieves some of the financial and emotional stress during job search or college/university attendance. It also provides flexible hours, days and assignments. Gaining new skills while making valuable business contacts is another benefit. Employees who want medical, pension or other benefits can also find these perks with some staffing firms.
You have the option of being a full-time temp or combining temp work with traditional employment and/or self employment. If your goal is to work as a permanent, full-time employee, but are having difficulty finding the right job or company, temp work can help pay the bills. If you're looking for new ways to work, want to learn varied skills, investigate a different industry, have more flexibility or control over your career or work schedule, temp work is an option.
To get the most out of temp assignments, get to know temp agencies in your area. Many temp agencies focus on specific industries including account staffing, technology staffing, legal staffing, finance staffing and other.  Maintain regular contact with them. Inquire about the benefits they offer, and get information about their clients (employers). Find out what kinds of jobs are available, their respective salaries and locations of employers. Let them know that you're eager to learn new skills and gain experience in a certain field. If your goal is full-time, permanent employment, advise them of this.
Don't pass up opportunities to learn. Don't expect each temp job to be perfect, but see each as a valuable experience that can help you achieve your career goal.
For more information about staffing firms in your area, check the local phone directory. Also check the internet for local firms as well as the American Staffing Association's website:

Award winning, Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life, by Carole Kanchier, discusses numerous other ways to access temp agencies and find jobs: 
Carole Kanchier, coach and author of Questers Dare to Change, shows clients how to determine job suitability and attain desired career goals.