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Staying Positive While Job Hunting for Temporary Jobs

By Meghan McFee and Sarah Terlaga

No matter if you’re seeking a permanent position or a temporary engagement, when you’re searching for a job you may be feeling nervous, mixed with a bit of excitement. Your dream job, even if it’s a temporary role, could be just around the corner.

For those job seekers looking for temporary positions, either as part of a freelance lifestyle or a bridge to permanent employment, the emotional roller coaster of the contract job market can be thrilling – and stressful. The temp market moves eons faster than the traditional job market with some assignments starting the day after an interview – if there is even an interview at all.

7 Tips for Staying Positive in Your Job Search

It is easy to remain upbeat during a job search—for the first days and weeks anyway. After that, if you’re not seeing much activity, you may start to feel down or discouraged. But don’t lose faith! Here are some tips to help you stay positive throughout your temp job search:

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1. Expect the Unpredictable

Yes, it’s true that the interview and hiring process for temp positions is typically faster than with permanent posts.

However, the temp market is always changing. You may have a week where you have ten interviews, and then two weeks without one.

What’s the typical length of a temp job search? There isn’t one. It could be three days or six months.

There is such a huge range because the market is so unpredictable and a “temporary” assignment can vary from a daylong data entry job to a nine-month web development project. The more complex the work, the longer the search could take.

2. Have Realistic Expectations

It’s important to know that the number of interviews you get is market driven. A lack of interviews doesn’t mean you’re lacking an important characteristic or skill. Try not to take the radio silence personally.

It’s possible that you may need to expand your target job requirements. More flexibility in your parameters may result in an uptick of interviews.

Also, if you do go out on 10 interviews and none of them pan out, don’t lose hope. There are more interviews in your future. You and your recruiter just haven’t found the right fit -- yet.

3. Manage Your Emotions

When you have multiple interviews you can feel euphoric, while a dearth of appointments can leave you disappointed. These swings are natural, but you need to keep them in check, particularly when talking with hiring managers.

Confidence is an admirable quality, but don’t come off as pompous. Candidates have been known to blow interviews because they’ve gone in with the attitude of “I am so in demand, they’d be lucky to have me.” Others have lost out on opportunities because they came off as timid or desperate.

Do your best to stay even-keeled. And always interview to get the job. Once you have the offer, you can decide if you want it.

4. Know Thyself

Just like when looking for a permanent job, before you start your search, know what you want in your next temp assignment. What are you looking for? What is non-negotiable? Where can you make concessions?

Consider things like the length of the contract, the type of work, and your commute. You want to be flexible enough that you have choices, but picky enough that they are all real options. This self-reflection at the start will help you explore new opportunities while staying true to your core values.

5. Control Your Search

Finding a job is your full-time job, whether you are looking for a permanent position or the right number of temp assignments to keep you employed at the level you desire.

Keeping track of all of your efforts is important. You should have a running list of every resume sent, including those sent by staffing firms you are working with; and all the interviews you’ve had along with who you met with and the outcome of each.

No matter if you’ve applied directly for a job, or a recruiter has done so on your behalf, sending your resume multiple times or contacting several people at the same company makes you appear disorganized.

Any follow-up should be through your recruiter or the person you originally contacted and reference your previous correspondence.

If you’re searching for a job on your own while at the same time working through a staffing firm, make sure your recruiter runs every position by you before submitting you as a candidate. This is also key in building a trusting relationship with your staffing partner and is critical if you choose to work with multiple recruitment firms which you many need to do in order to keep your level of employment steady.

6. Get a Life

Stay in touch with hiring managers and your recruiters, but don’t get obsessed. If you let your search control your life, you will burn out. Then when you do get that interview, your desperation and single-mindedness will show.

So take your phone and go for a walk or find something that will energize and rejuvenate you -- but always be reachable. Temp jobs pop up suddenly and if you aren’t available for an interview, or to start an assignment, the company or recruiter will move on to the next candidate.

7. Revel in Small Wins

Finding a new lead, sending out multiple resumes, and getting a phone interview (even if it doesn’t lead to an in-person interview) are all reasons to celebrate! The job search can be a long process. It’s easy to dwell on what isn’t happening, but to stay optimistic you also have to focus on your “wins” -- even small ones.

It may seem like a cliché to say that finding a new job, even a temporary one, will change your life, but for all practical purposes it will. You’ll be in a new location and in a new role with new people and opportunities. Your life will, in fact, be different. Channel that freshness and excitement to stay positive as you navigate your job search.

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About the authors...

Meghan McFee is a Principal Staffing Manager in the Technology division of WinterWyman Contract Staffing and Sarah Terlaga is a Senior Staffing Manager in the Human Resources division of WinterWyman Contract Staffing. Meghan’s focus is on recruiting Database, QA, Project Management and Tech Support professionals in the New York and Boston markets while Sarah works with all levels of HR contractors in the New England area. Contact Meghan at mmcfee@winterwyman.com and Sarah at sterlaga@winterwyman.com. To keep abreast of happenings in the contract staffing world, follow WinterWyman's LinkedIn page, and check out @WWcontracts on Twitter.


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