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Temp–Contract–Consulting assignments… worthwhile???

I’m often asked by job seekers whether I think they ought to check out a temporary position instead of waiting to land a new FTE (Full Time Employee) role. While everyone’s situation is different… most of the time my answer is… Yes!

People have varied preconceptions of what a temporary role entails. Some perceptions may be right, and many are wrong.

Temporary work has evolved greatly over the last 20 years and today it’s not uncommon for people to develop successful careers out of “temporary” work.

Here are some Myths and Facts about Temporary positions…

 

Myth
Temporary jobs are only for Administrative Assistants or high-level consultants.

Fact
These days, there are temporary, contract, or consulting opportunities for almost any field. I’m always amazed when I hear of a staffing firm or recruiter that specializes in placing people in fields that I would never have imagined. Certainly there are a great number of contract / temporary positions for Accountants, Financial Analysts, Programmers, Engineers, Technical Writers, Machinists, Farm Workers, and others. However, there are also opportunities for Doctors, Veterinarians, Nurses, Caterers, Waiters/Waitresses, Seamstresses, Retail Staff, Managers, Hotel Staff, and dozens of other fields and professions. No matter what kind of position you’re looking for, you’re likely to find temporary, contract, or consulting opportunities in your field.

Myth
Temporary positions typically pay far less than what you would earn in an FTE role.

Fact
While pay may be lower in some situations, there are many more where pay is actually quite a bit higher than what an FTE role might pay. Benefits typically aren’t always available or very good when they are available. However, the hourly wage often more than compensates for the loss in benefits. A computer programmer that might make $75,000 per year as an FTE, can often earn $50 to $60 per hour on a contract assignment, equating to $100,000 to $120,000 per year. The same is often true for many other fields as well.

Myth
It’s always better, and cheaper to get health insurance from an employer than to purchase it on your own.

Fact
Company health plans can vary dramatically in cost and coverage from one employer to the next. It’s not unusual for a company to only offer a one-size-fits-all option that may be far more expensive than something you might find on your own that’s better tailored for your needs. There are many factors that go into this, and it’s important to do your own research for your circumstances. However, it’s often possible to buy cheaper and better targeted health plans on your own than to rely on the company benefit.

Myth
It will hurt your resume and perceived career track to have a temporary or contract assignment on it rather than waiting to find a new FTE role.

Fact
The reality in most cases is that it shows you’re proactive, and focused on staying productive rather than simply waiting indefinitely for a perfect role to come along. You can certainly keep looking for an FTE role while working in the temporary position, and you’re gaining new experience, an income, and a productive track record along the way.

Myth
A short-term assignment will mess up my unemployment benefits.

Fact
Rules vary by state. However, in the vast majority of situations, a temporary assignment only puts benefits on-hold while your working and they can be resumed when the assignment ends without loss of weeks you’re eligible to receive. In the meantime, you’ve gained experience at a new organization, earned more than unemployment benefits pay, extended the length of time you can get by without a new FTE role, and filled in a gap on your resume.

More Facts…

  • Temporary positions often turn into FTE roles if the company has an opening and they’ve seen, and like, your work.

  • Many people create a new career out of working only temporary or contract assignments. It provides more variety, flexibility, some detachment from office politics, and often much better pay.

  • Temporary positions typically pay hourly… for EVERY hour worked. Full-Time salaried positions often end up paying less on an hourly basis if you work more than full-time hours without additional pay.

Too often job seekers don’t consider temporary positions because they think there are too many negatives. In reality, many of them would greatly benefit from considering some temporary work options. Explore what opportunities might be available to you!


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