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Advantages and Disadvantages of Temping

By Susan P. Joyce

Like anything else, there are definitely advantages and disadvantages for becoming a temp. 

For some people, being a temp is the perfect solution to their career and/or financial needs. For others, it is less-than-perfect, but a way to pay the bills until a "real" job is found.

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Reasons for Taking a Temporary Job

These days, job seekers have many reasons to take a temporary job:

  1. The job sought is usually only available as a temporary or "seasonal" job.
  2. A temporary job is preferred by the job seeker.
  3. A temporary job is all the job seeker can find in their local job market or field, at the current time.

All of these are valid reasons for taking a temporary job. Particularly if you have been unemployed for more than six months, a temporary job can be your best options.

Advantages of Taking a Temporary Job

A temporary job definitely offers some advantages to the job seeker:

  • It may be exactly the job the job seeker wants, with a time limit for the employment commitment.
  • It provides an income stream while the "real" job search continues. (We called this the "salary continuation plan" in the past.)
  • It fills a gap on the resume - a gap in experience needed for the next job or a gap in the resume's employment history.
  • It may give the job seeker a chance to "test drive" a job, an employer, or an industry.
  • The job seeker has an opportunity to start their career migration to a new field.
  • Sometimes, it provides both income and benefits (health insurance, etc.)
  • Sometimes, it opens the door to a permanent job, often referred to as "temp-to-perm."

With luck, a temporary job may provide all of these benefits and more.

Disadvantages of Taking a Temporary Job

Of course, a down-side exists for temporary work:

  • Temp jobs are, by definition, short term, usually less than a month. If you want a longer job without making a full commitment to the employer as a "permanent" employee, freelancing or contracting can be a very good option.
  • Many temps report feeling isolated and not well-respected by other employees. I'm sure this varies by organization and "corporate culture," but it happens.
  • Most temps are not paid top dollar for what they do, unless they have a skill that is quite scarce. 
  • Depending on the agency, you may find that you have fewer benefits (sick days, paid vacation, for example).
  • The site manager and other employees may not be particularly helpful when you are in a learning mode.

The good news is that these jobs are, by definition, temporary! The atmosphere and people change with every job. So, if one job is unpleasant, the next one may be great. Read Turn Temporary Work Challenges into Opportunities for more information.

Bottom Line

It's a balancing act.  For some people, being a temp is perfect for them. For others, being a temp is a hopefully short stop before a full-time "permanent" job is found.

More About Temporary Work Options


About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.