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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

5 Ways Temping Can Help Your Career

As many of you know, before I became a corporate recruiter, I spent over three years as a staffing recruiter. I worked for a great staffing agency called Northwest Staffing Resources, in their Bellevue office. This article was written by Sarah Honkala, a NSR temp working out of the Vancouver office.

5 Ways Temping Can Help Your Career

With unemployment high and new positions filling fast, temporary agencies can be a great way to find work. In the past ten years, I have spent almost five years working as a temporary employee. I used to feel a little self-conscious about that while watching someone glance through my work history. Then I realized all of the experience I’d gained by working in those temp positions. Now I see my time spent temping as an asset. I’d like to share the top 5 ways that temping has helped me in my employment search. If you keep an open mind and work hard, you can use these to help with your own career.

1) Short-term jobs can become long-term jobs. When signing up with a temporary agency, it is a good idea to be open for short-term work as well as long term. I know, you’re probably saying, “But with my bills, I really need a full-time job.” I understand. There have been times when I’ve needed a full-time job with no prospects. But short-term jobs can turn into long-term jobs. I worked a three-week assignment that turned into one year. I had a week assignment turn into seven months. I’ve worked a short-term assignment for a few days, and then was asked back when they needed help again. There are no guarantees that a job can turn into long term, but there aren’t guarantees that a permanent job is long term either. Temporary agencies get you back into working mode and give you a chance.

2) A temp job can help get your foot in the door of a company or organization. People want to hire people they are comfortable with. Do your homework. If you want to work for the government, find the temp agency they work with. If you want to work in the music business, find the temp agency that works in that environment. Ask questions before you sign up. Once you are working in that organization be proactive and helpful. When a position is open you’ll have better odds of being hired. I worked for the city government as a direct result of a temp assignment. (Note: if you are looking for a job with the government be patient, the hiring process can be lengthy).

3) Temporary jobs let you find your likes and dislikes. While working on temporary assignments make a note of environments you like and dislike. Do you find yourself more comfortable in a small office environment? A large organization? Working directly with people? Working with numbers? I found out while working in a temporary environment that it is important for me to feel like I’m doing a great job. I worked for awhile as a medical transcriptionist. I had no medical knowledge and would stumble on each word I typed. After the documents were typed they went to a quality control department. I knew my pages were getting marked up and it made me feel horrible. I went back to the agency and asked for an assignment I was better suited for. It was hard for me to pass up, but I’m glad I did it. I missed a paycheck or two but in the end I had a job I was better suited for. Finding an enjoyable job is a dream for many. Temping helps you find out what you like with the stability of one company, your agency, which looks better on your resume then excessive job hopping.

4) You can get experience in a new career field. I wanted to work in public relations. I had a Bachelor’s degree and a customer service background. I applied at different places and - nothing. I didn’t have the right type of experience. I communicated with the temporary agency about what type of career I was interested in and mentioned I’d like jobs that would help me in that area. I found myself working in public outreach and on a few other assignments that gave me experience. That is a great benefit of being a temporary employee.

5) The agency you work through will have more contacts then you do to help find you a job. Temporary agencies have mastered the art of networking. They know what companies are in the area and they know which companies are hiring. You can spend your time networking and following job lead after job lead, or simply fill out an employment application and let the temp agency do the networking work for you. This will get you a lot further then the newspaper ads and Craigslist.

Creating a career has become more challenging with the volatile times. Tricks and tips that worked before don’t work as well as they used to. Networking your way to a job is great, but it takes time to see results. A lot of the unemployed don’t have the time to wait and see results, they need results now. Temporary agencies are a great way to see results more quickly.
Working in a temporary environment can be stressful and challenging. Temping is an employment option that will take you from your kitchen table filling out applications, to behind a desk on your way to a new career.

Sarah will be writing more articles about how to be a successful temporary employee:

Thank you Sarah!

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