3 surprising ways a temp job can take your career to the next level


It's not your imagination: Temp work is becoming a way of life for a growing number of U.S. workers. While contingent workers — including temporary and part-time employees — made up about 12% of the American workforce in 2010, that proportion has risen to about 20%, according to Staffing Industry Analysts data reported by USA Today in 2016.

Demand for temps is projected to be strong in 2017, too. What's more, millennials and people just entering the workforce are especially likely to be offered temporary or part-time positions, rather than traditional full-time work.

Getting offered a low-paying temporary position can be frustrating for sure. More often than not, you'll be on your own when it comes to paying for health insurance and saving for retirement. But that doesn't mean it's a dead end. 


If you've been looking for a job for a few months and only get offered temp work, don't be discouraged. Here are three reasons why you might want to take it:

It pays dividends on your resume

One of the biggest benefits of temp work is the opportunity to build an employment history and beef up an otherwise skimpy resume. In addition to giving you a chance to learn new skills, it can also help avoid big gaps on your resume before you land a full-time position.

"A temp job is a good way to build up your portfolio by learning, building relationships and practicing skills you may have never used," human resources expert Laurie Ruettimann told Monster. Soak up as much knowledge as you can to become a better candidate for the job you really want.

Lauren Griffin, senior vice president at Adecco Staffing USA, said in an interview that "temp work absolutely helps young people gain noteworthy experience. More and more we’re seeing employers consider meaningful temp assignments as equal to traditional, salaried experience."

It helps you soul search

"The best immediate perk of a temp job is the flexibility of being able to try out a role and gain experience without as many strings attached," Griffin said. 

Finding meaningful work is especially important to millennials. The Atlantic reported that "younger Americans were much more likely to say that their top priority [for their first job] was doing something that they found enjoyable or making a difference in society."  

The problem is, you may not know what work you like until you start working.

Temp work is a low-commitment way to try out different careers and see where you might be a good fit and what kind of work environment is best for you. 

That temp gig could become a full-time job

Employers are often wary of taking a chance on hiring a full-time worker who has been unemployed or lacks experience

In those situations, they may be more willing to bring you on board as a temp worker, rather than a full-time staffer. 

Once you have your foot in the door, you have the chance to impress your boss so much that you wind up with a full-time job.

As Melanie Holmes, a vice president at ManpowerGroup told Forbes, “Working as a temporary employee gives you the opportunity to be on the inside and ultimately gives you an advantage over external candidates when applying for permanent jobs."

That's because your boss has a chance to get to know you and has likely already invested a good amount of time and energy into training you. If it's a good fit, they have much less reason to start all over looking for a replacement.

And if you don't get hired? Chances are, the experience was worth it as you've built professional relationships that will help you find the job you really want.

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