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Temp Your Way to a Dream Job: Five Smart Strategies for Success

For many, "temping" is a back door entrance to a new career. Here's how to make the most of contract opportunities.

Security?

The concept of job security is eroding quickly in this country. Frankly, "permanent" jobs are becoming a delusion. According to the Washington Post, more than a quarter of people who have found jobs since the recession ended have landed in temporary positions. This is a dramatic and unprecedented shift in the work place. Today, no job is permanent at any level or with any company.

Conspiracy?

Many are calling the lack of "permanent" opportunities a conspiracy... some have called it the beginning of the end of the middle class. They complain that companies are adding "consultants" to their ranks to avoid paying benefits and dealing with unionized workforces. Others lament that temp employment is making it difficult for many to qualify for a mortgage or build their credit score.

Reality!

In these turbulent times, hiring managers simply cannot get head count approval because corporations don't know what their business landscape will look like, from year to year. They're hedging their bets by creating temp jobs to fill in the gaps.

Think temp opportunities are all administrative in nature? Think again! Manpower North America recently reported that, "companies are hiring more middle management and even executive level workers for temporary or consulting jobs, especially project roles in accounting, finance, IT, engineering and healthcare."

The bright side? Temporary workers are staying in their posts longer, averaging 13.8 weeks. And many opportunities are much longer in duration. Typically, about half of those on temp assignments end up being hired as full-time employees. For the unemployed, these are not bad odds for finding the elusive, full-time opportunity. In fact, for many, contract employment is a back door entrance to a new career.

Temp Your Way to your Dream Job: 5 Smart Strategy for Success

1) Pick an agency wisely: Whether you want to shift your career or hone in on an industry, you can find an agency that focuses on the area of your interest, be it accounting, IT, marketing, pharma or environmental. The list goes on and on... Also, keep in mind that some temp/consulting firms actually DO provide benefits to their consultants/temps.

2) Communicate your goals: Are you trying to gain experience in a particular field or enhance your skill set? Let your agency recruiter know what you're looking for and exactly how you think you can "fit" this type of job. Ultimately, the agency recruiter works for the Companies that are hiring. It is up to the agency to make advantageous "matches." Explain your skills, your field of interest and "pitch" yourself for several scenarios that you would consider.

3) Go above and beyond: Once on the job, your first priorities are the tasks at hand. Do them to the best of your ability and then ask for more. Be visible, enthusiastic and engaged. Find ways to enhance the position and suggest improvements to the process without being obnoxious or pushy. How can your current temp role be done better? How can you help save money and be more efficient? Think about these issues while you are on the job and mention your solutions to your superiors.

4) Consider the job a loooooong interview: Ask questions. Be curious. And be on your best behavior. Do a little internal research on the different areas of the company and how they might appeal to you and your skill set. Find a way to delicately communicate the facts that you are "more than a temp" and that you are interested in a full-time opportunity with the firm. A word to the wise: Do not badger decision-makers with your goals and aspirations. Project professionalism.

5) Explore all opportunities while onsite: Seminars. Lunch and learn. Blood drives. After-work sports teams. Take every allowable opportunity to mesh into the fabric of the company. Become an "insider" and others will take notice. Scout out newly vacated/created positions on internal job boards. Even if a job does not materialize, you will make new connections, expand your network and potentially open doors to other unknown opportunities. 

Instead of dreading the prospect of temping, why not embrace it? After all, there is one major benefit to working on a contract basis--it's a great way to test drive a company before you commit.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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