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To Temp or Not To Temp, That is the Question
September 2010

It's a full time job to find a full time job! You talk to anyone about a job search and they will tell you that you have to put in lots of time to reap the rewards. Yet many people have bills to pay and turn to temporary work while in-between jobs. Temping can offer you an opportunity to stay in the job market and keep your skills fresh while you are searching for your permanent opportunity.

If you have followed my Career Zone articles over the last few months, you would know that I lost my job at the end of April and have been on a journey to find my next dream job. While I am on this adventure, I decided to do some consulting for a media company and help them with recruiting.

Accepting a temporary or consulting job while you are searching for permanent work can be very advantageous. One of the biggest advantages is flexibility. As a temp you can decide when you are available for work or not. Another benefit is the opportunity to gain new skills or experience. Your temp assignments can vary, so you have plenty of opportunities to try out new companies, industries and job functions.

Another important aspect of temporary and consulting work is that it gives you insight. You have the unique opportunity to check under the hood and see how much you like the corporate culture and job duties. Maybe you are transferring your accounting skills and working as a business analyst or you used to work in advertising but are now working in the fashion industry.

Not only can you gain insight on the culture and inner workings of a company, but you can also utilize the assignment to your advantage. You are sitting in the seat, working the job. It is your time to shine and show the employer that you have the skills and talents to add value to their organization. Every day you're there is your interview, so go the extra mile and show the employer that you do the job better than anyone else out there.

While you are temping, keep a few things in mind. Temp to perm situations can lead to confusion about your unemployment benefits. The best thing to do is check with your local department of labor to learn about your benefit situation. In most states, a claim is usually good for one year. My first unemployment claim was in May 2010, so if my consulting opportunity was to end next week, and I had no job lined up, I could resume my unemployment benefits until May 2011.

Staying on top of your job search is also critical when you are working a temp or consulting assignment. This has been one of my biggest challenges. I am tired after I get home from work each day! The last thing I want to do is get on the internet to look at job boards, go to a networking event or meet someone for a cup of coffee or drink. But I know in order to land my dream job, I need to stay on top of my job search while I am working. I have to constantly remind myself to get busy with my job search and I try and carve out 15 hours a week to dedicate.

If you think temping is right for you, but you are not sure how to start, visit the American Staffing Association to search for a credentialed agency near you.