Most job seekers are all too familiar with how competitive the market is these days. In order to be noticed in today’s crowded field, candidates must work harder than ever and employ a variety of tools and best practices. Resumes should be carefully tailored for each opportunity, persistence and follow up are critical, technology abounds, and networking, networking and more networking is the job search golden rule. For most, this advice is probably not groundbreaking but I can’t stress the importance of using these tried and true methods. In my experience, the people who do these things get better results and they get them more quickly. You can find advice all over the web – I think this summary by the American Staffing Association is a great place to start.
While today’s professionals are savvy and knowledgeable in their job search tactics, there’s one thing I think people don’t consider – temporary or contract employment; and they should. The staffing industry has often played a critical role between job seekers and employers, and in our current job market, it is an even more viable and potentially valuable option. Increased use of a contingent workforce is one harbinger of economic recovery and often a precursor to growth in FTE hiring, and we’re seeing that increase now. In addition to the obvious benefit of compensation, here are a few other advantages a contract position may provide:
1. Temporary hires often become direct employees. This has always been the case and is one of the best benefits to working in a contract position. Companies see it as an opportunity to evaluate candidates on the job and ensure that the company and candidate are a good fit for each other. And it works both ways. As a candidate you can check out the company to make sure you like them and their culture. While some companies have provisions about bringing contractors on board as direct employees, many more companies do not. I’ve worked with some firms that automatically converted any contractor to FTE after a year. Now, with many companies still hesitant, Temp-to-Hire opportunities are proliferating.
2. Is there a particular company or companies that you are really interested in? If traditional avenues haven’t produced results, consider a contract position. Almost all of the Fortune 1000 use contingent workers, many more extensively than you might think. While you might get a position in the department you hope to join, you may need to leverage an opportunity in one area to move into another. You may feel overqualified for the position, but don’t rule it out. This is a great way to tangibly demonstrate your skills, experience, and value to the company. Smart talented people use these as stepping stones to more responsibility. I just heard another success story last week about a regional senior HR manager at a global audit and consulting firm who started as a temporary administrative assistant.
3. Do you aspire to a certain job, company, or industry, but don’t have all the skills and credentials you need to compete? Do you need to reestablish yourself professionally after time away from the workforce? Contract employment can be a great way to add skills and experience to your resume. I worked with a candidate once who wanted to work at Disney but whose experience was at much smaller organizations. He took a temporary position at Yahoo! and less than a year later, he landed the job he wanted at Disney. Here is his story. If you are switching industries contract employment can also be a good way to gain needed experience quickly
4. Working with a staffing firm is like having your own personal career counselor. Recruiters succeed when their candidates succeed. They want to present you in the best possible light and they know how to do it, they’re professionals! They can help with your resume and prepare you for interviews and they know who is hiring. I am continually impressed with the efforts my colleagues put forth on behalf of their people. They are coach, cheerleader and teammate rolled into one! Who couldn’t use that kind of assistance?
I hope that I’ve at least sparked your interest in the contingent workforce market and showed you some possible ways that it might assist you in reaching your goals. And although the majority of temporary workers eventually find full time permanent employment, more and more people are opting to create rewarding careers as a contract employee, relishing in the diversity and freedom it provides. If you’d like to learn more about any type of contingent employment, please contact us at ATR. We’re always willing to share our knowledge and explore with you whether joining the flexible workforce is a good option.
Whatever path your career takes, I wish you success!
VP of Recruiting