When we embark upon a job search, the vast majority of us are hoping for a permanent position complete with benefits and a greater sense of stability. In this economic climate, however, employers are more inclined to hire contract and temporary workers. A new survey from CareerBuilder and the American Staffing Association states that less than 25 percent of employers intend to hire full-time employees in 2012. 36 percent of employers, however, planned to hire contract and temporary workers this year. Here are five reasons why you should accept a contract position rather than holding out for a permanent job.
- The try out period. Temporary hires allow employers to “try out” employees before converting them to permanent employees. That’s a two-way street, however. As a contract worker you are “trying out” the employer to see if the company and position are a good fit for you. If you are in a truly abysmal situation, you can extricate yourself relatively quickly and easily while still maintaining your professionalism. Contract positions can also afford the chance to explore other areas of professional interest without jettisoning your current career trajectory.
- Keep your skills sharp and acquire new ones. As demanding as job searching is, it is not the same as working in your field. Left unused, your skills will atrophy and it will be that much more difficult to find your feet once you do secure a position. As Matthew Walden, Senior Vice President of Infinity Consulting Solutions (ICS) explains, “At ICS, we are seeing the advantages of temporary work in real time. Companies still need to meet demand and will leverage contingent workers to do so. However, there has been an influx of quality talent injected into the unemployed landscape. Companies are scouring this landscape to elevate the quality of their workforce. Given this, my advice to job seekers is to continue to pursue fulltime opportunities but entertain temporary assignments as they will keep your skill sets sharp and help make you more marketable in the long run.”
- Work with a recruiter. Recruiters do more than pair candidates with positions, they also provide training. According to the American Staffing Association, 90 percent staffing companies provide free training to their temporary and contract employees. In its studies, 65 percent of recruitment firm employees reported that they developed new or improved work skills through their assignments. Recruiters also make us better job hunters with advice on resumes, interviews, and other ways to become a more attractive applicant. On a more practical note, if you are being paid by a staffing agency, you do not need to worry about the tax issues associated with the misclassification of independent workers and often will have access to group benefits like health insurance and retirement plans. For those who have been out of work for a long time and COBRA has run out, this can be a lifesaver.
- A temporary job can become a permanent position. While every temporary or contract job will not lead to a permanent position, it happens more often that you may realize. It is not uncommon to take a temporary job with no expectation of a position becoming available anytime soon and, after proving yourself over time, find a job offer in hand. There are no guarantees this will happen, even if a job is officially designated temp-to-perm, but if you treat this job like you would a permanent one, your work will be noticed.
- Expand your professional network. Whenever you are in the workforce, regardless of whether you have a contract or permanent position, you are meeting new people and making connections. Fostering those relationships can be professionally rewarding and open doors to opportunities not only at your current workplace but also with other organizations. According to the US Labor Department, 70% of all jobs are found through networking. In addition to learning about positions that you may never have heard about otherwise, that professional connection can ensure your resume is seen and you are actually considered for the role, which is no small feat in a market flooded with quality applicants.