Using a Temporary Job to Launch Your Career


inspirational towels, temporary job, temp job, career, staffing, HR career

Sometimes we can get a huge lift in our career from the unlikeliest places. We just need the right information and mindset. Today’s reader note is a perfect example.

I’m a struggling “wannabe HR professional”. By that I mean, my resume is all over the place. I’ve been a temp worker for so long. I feel like I’m unsuccessful when it comes to landing great HR positions. Instead I keep landing recruiting coordinator roles, and to me it’s not HR.

I’ve paid over $300 to get a professional resume and I feel as though I was taken advantage off.  What advice would you give someone like me?

First off, there are two separate issues in this note: 1) working in a temporary job and 2) having your resume professionally prepared. Since these are both big issues in today’s job market, I’m going to respond in two articles. Today, we’re going to focus on the temporary staffing part.

To help us learn more about staffing agencies, I reached out to a friend of mine, Joan Ciferri,who wasthe president of a regional staffing firmfor over 25 years.

Joan, for those people who might not know, what’s the function of a staffing company as it relates to a temporary job?

[Ciferri] Most staffing companies concentrate on non-exempt positions. They normally have a specialty such as:

  • Administrative, includingaccounting and finance
  • Humanresources
  • Information technology
  • Light or heavy industrial

Staffing companies acquire a client company’s business to fill the company’s positions in their niche. Most candidates start out as a temporary or contract worker on the staffing company’s payroll for a specific time period for peak business times, special projects, or coverage for a worker who is out on leave.

Joan Ciferri, headshot, temporary job, temp job, career, HR career, career development, Human Resources careerMany client companies chose to hire the best of these workers if they have an open position because they have had the opportunity to view their work product and habits. Most staffing companies allow their clients to hire their temporary worker after a 90-day period with a nominal or no additional fee. If a client wishes to hire the temporary worker prior to the contracted period, they may do so by ‘buying out’ the contract. Since the staffing company normally is placing several candidates with a client company, they tend to be well connected to the hiring managers and supervisors. They’re in a good position to recommend other candidates to the client company who would fit their environment. Staffing companies get paid when they place someone with the client company on assignment or directly with the company.

How is this different from a search firm?

[Ciferri] Search firms (also called executive search or headhunters) concentrate on higher-level exempt positions. Search firms tend to specialize in positions and/or, more often, in a particular industry. Their recruiters are usually knowledgeable in that industry, so they can understand the client company’s and candidate’s background and needs. Search firms typically are engaged to fill a specific role or roles in the company. Client companies typically pay the search firm for the process of the search regardless if they hire the person.

The client company has specific guidelines of the skills and experience they are looking for and the search company will search both passive and active candidates who fit this description.

Why do people choose a temporary job?

[Ciferri] People choose temp work for a variety of reasons such as:

  • Filling in the employment gap while looking for full-time employment or employment in their field.
  • Allowing for flexibility to travel or pursue interests that would require periodic time away from work.
  • Helping them determine the type of work or company that could be a fit for them.
  • Enjoying the variety and find working for only one employer limiting or boring.

In your experience, do companies regularly hire temps for HR departments? If so, what are the typical temp positions inHR?

[Ciferri] Yes. The most common temporary positions are for recruiters to assist them with ramping up projects or peak periods. Some companies hire HR or administrative temporaries for large benefit open enrollment periods or mergers. Some companies will hire a temporary HR generalist to start a department or cover for their HR person who may be out on Family and Medical Leave (FMLA).

If someone is working through a staffing firm, but wants full-time work, what are 1-2 things they should tell the staffing company before they take an assignment?

[Ciferri] Tell the staffing firm that they want full time work. Have an agreement about what will happen if they get a job offer or interview for full time work while on assignment for the temp company.

In this reader note, the person sounds frustrated or unhappy. If someone is unhappy or disappointed with their temporary job, what should they do?

[Ciferri] Let the staffing company know right away so they can help rectify the situation or replace them. Do not just leave the client company and temp company without notice.

My thanks to Joan for sharing her expertise with us. An increasing number of individuals and organizations are looking for flexibility when it comes to talent. Staffing companies and a temporary job can fill that need. But it takes understanding what a staffing company does best. And openly communicating your needs.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby after speaking at the HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas, NV




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