If you're a typical job seeker, you're looking for a job where you can stay for a few years. You like stability, structure, a daily routine, a steady paycheck, and good benefits.
Note that I said typical job seeker, because not everyone wants a long-term job. Some of us like adventure and change with a dollop of unpredictability, and thus prefer a series of temporary jobs. And, of course, the recession has forced others into temporary jobs, whether they like it or not. Sometimes you do what you gotta do.
In fact, the federal government says there was a 29% rise in temp jobs—a total of about 500,000—from September 2009 to November 2010, according to a report on NPR.org, the web site of National Public Radio. That rise comes in contrast to an unemployment rate that is stubbornly hanging on at less than 10%.
Why Are They Hiring More Temps?
Part of the rise in temp jobs can be linked to the slow rise in the economy. Employers that still see uncertainty ahead don't want to make long-term commitments to new hires, so they find temporary workers, contract workers, or freelance workers—call them what you will. Others hire temporary workers to cover for employees on leave, or to manage seasonal increases in workload.
The employers get the work done, don’t have to pay employee benefits, and can end the relationship when demand slows down, no questions asked. This trend is something we can expect for the long run, the NPR article suggests.
What’s In It for You?
Here are some of the possible benefits of working as a temp:
- A worker who lands a temporary position through a staffing agency usually gets paid a higher wage than a regular employee.
- Being a temp offers flexibility, and keeps your skills fresh.
- If you do a great job, the employer might decide to offer you a full-time job once they can afford to bring you on staff.
- If your skills can help several companies, you can build a reputation as an ideal "fill in" for specific, short-term, assignments.
- You can keep looking for a suitable full-time job while working temp jobs, rather than "settling" for something less than what you want.
- You might find you like living the life of a temporary worker, provided it keeps bringing in good money and you can count on steady work.
What about Benefits?
The downside to temp work, of course, is that if you really need such highly cherished benefits as health insurance and a retirement pension, you may be on your own (unless you have a spouse or domestic partner who can provide them). Although many staffing agencies offer benefits such as group health insurance after a certain number of hours worked, you’ll probably have to pay a large portion of the premiums yourself.
The big question is: Would you take the risk?
Have you ever taken a temporary job? How did it work out for you? Please tell us in a comment below.
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