Ask Matt: Should I take a temp job if I want a permanent one?

  • Article by: MATT KRUMRIE
  • Updated: October 28, 2013 - 9:32 AM

Dear Matt: I’m unemployed, and even though I’m seeking full-time employment I’m considering accepting a six-month temporary job. What happens if I accept this temp role but leave for a full-time job before my temp stint is up? Am I required to stay? I’ve never worked in a temporary role — what are some benefits?

Matt says: According to the American Staffing Association (ASA), there are 2.91 million people employed by staffing companies every day and 11.5 million temporary and contract workers hired by U.S. staffing firms every year. Despite these numbers, there are still many people unfamiliar with the opportunities or processes involved with working in a temporary or contract roles.

Here’s what you need to know: According to ASA, 90 percent of staffing companies provide free training to their temporary and contract employees; 88 percent of staffing employees say that temporary or contract work made them more employable; 80 percent of staffing clients say staffing firms offer a good way to find people who can become permanent employees; and 77 percent of staffing employees say it’s a good way to obtain a permanent job.

“For some, it’s as basic as keeping a steady paycheck coming in,” says Kent Johnson, Director of Talent Acquisition at Comm-Works (ww.comm-works.com), a Twin Cities-based IT solution management staffing organization. “For others, it’s a chance to explore job options and keep their skills sharp.”

That’s exactly what this reader and others in this situation should do: Take advantage of the opportunity to work in a temporary or contract role, even if you are searching for a permanent position. Just be upfront.

“It’s always beneficial to share your status and goals with your recruiter,” says Johnson. “If you’re knee deep with interviews for other jobs, share that with you recruiter so they know you may have to give notice sooner than later. While staffing companies look for a candidate to commit for a certain length of time, you’re not technically obligated to stay for a specific period.”

If you decide to leave, it’s always professional courtesy to give a two-week notice — but sometimes this isn’t reality, admits Johnson. However, give your staffing service as much notice as possible so the client company isn’t blindsided by the move. Try to leave on good terms to avoid burning bridges; you never know when you may work with these companies in the future. Think about short and long-term goals and consequences, but mostly, think of temporary or contract opportunities as another way to advance your career, learn new skills and make new contacts.

“For many, temporary or contract work is critical in continuing their career path,” says Johnson.

Contact Matt at jobslink@startribune.com

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