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Home > Blog: Job Seeker Tips > Can't Get Hired? Consider Temp or Contract Work

Can't Get Hired? Consider Temp or Contract Work

If you’re out of work and anticipate a long layoff (e.g., more than six months), you may have quite a bit to gain by taking on a temporary or contract job to generate cash to pay the bills while you hunt for full-time work. With the nation’s unemployment rate at its highest in many years, thousands of out-of-work job seekers are facing — or already experiencing — many weeks, even months, without a paycheck.

Besides the money, contract work also offers these benefits:

  • You’ll maintain a semi-regular workday schedule, so returning to full-time work won’t be such a jolt;
  • You can make new connections and expand your network of contacts;
  • You might pick up new skills you were seeking anyway;
  • You can add the experience to your resume, and;
  • You might impress them enough that they’ll hire you when economic conditions improve.

What kind of contract jobs can you find? They’re popular in information technology, which regularly looks for technical and project management help. Many companies will work with temporary staffing agencies for help in office administration, accounting, and finance. In a recent press release, the specialized staffing firm Robert Half International listed these roles as being among the most prevalent in today’s economy: credit and collections specialists, mortgage specialists, help desk and desktop support, bankruptcy/foreclosure attorneys, litigation paralegals, customer service representatives, and administrative healthcare positions.

Here are three sites you can use to find listings for contract work: Sologig, Elance, and You can find other sites, as well as links to temp staffing agencies’ web sites, at


If you're modifying your resume for a particular temporary or contract position, here are three suggestions:

  • Limit your resume to one page that highlights the most essential elements for the job. For instance, a company seeking a web developer probably doesn’t need to know about your staff management skills.
  • Headline your resume with a title, such as Experienced IT Project Manager, in place of an Objective or Summary. Then write two or three sentences that summarize your unique expertise and experience that match key phrases in the job description. (If you have a Pongo account, see the end of this blog post for instructions on adding a headline to your resume template.)
  • Include a cover letter if you’re applying on your own, to express your interest in the position and how you found out about it. For those who look through a staffing agency, the agency acts as a “verbal cover letter,” explaining your qualifications to their client.


Just about every career and job search advisor will tell you that you need to network — in person and online — to help land that next job. This is especially true for temporary work. For in-person networking, business cards can come in handy. Be sure to include a title on the card that closely matches the one you would use to headline your resume. Also, include your phone numbers and email address, as well as the URL to your web resume or LinkedIn profile, if you have one. You want to give contacts every possible way to find out about you and reach you.

Need business cards? Try these sites: VistaPrint, iPrint, and PrintsMadeEasy.


  • First, log into your account and click on My Resumes.
  • Open your resume (or create a new one), then click Headings.
  • In the "Custom Heading" field, write your title, then click Add Heading.
  • The new heading will show up at the bottom of the Assigned column. Click the up-arrow on the right to move it up to the top position.
  • Delete the heading titled Summary or Objective.
  • Click Save. The title will appear on your resume under your name and contact information.
  • Click Edit under the heading and write the sentences that describe your background and experience that are most pertinent to the position you’re applying for.

Have you taken a temporary job that led to a full-time position? Or did the experience at the temp job help you land something elsewhere? Let us know.

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