Contract jobs — also called temporary, or project-based work — have been growing in popularity for some time now. It’s a relatively simple and easy way for businesses to take on extra employees when and where they need them, without bloating their total workforce and saddling themselves with extra costs. These ‘temp jobs’ have also been the source of a lot of frustration, particularly for millennials who have been trying to find economic stability.
The rise of temporary work has resulted from a number of things, and has been fueled by others. After the Great Recession hit and payrolls were trimmed to the bone, many companies found they didn’t necessarily need to hire full-time employees to get things done; they just needed employees to knock out certain projects and then cut them loose. This also saves businesses a ton of money by avoiding certain costs full-time employees bring to the table. Healthcare and benefits make up another big chunk of savings.
This has made things tougher on workers looking for stability, but that doesn’t mean that being cycled from one job to the next can’t be, in some ways, beneficial.
The Cheat Sheet spoke with Ayako Igari, a recruiter for The Creative Group, a staffing company in Seattle, Washington about contract work, and what advantages it can actually offer those in the workforce. Igari finds workers for a number of big companies, including Starbucks, Amazon, and others in the Seattle area, and is constantly looking to marry the needs of those companies with the skillsets and qualifications of applicants.
“I go after people that have solid work experience, and someone who’s not working full-time,” Igari said. “I wouldn’t try to convince someone who’s working full-time to take a three month contract.”
There are, however, recruiters who will do that — and that’s something to watch out for. Igari says that temporary gigs, for those who are not in full-time positions, can actually give you a leg-up in the job market after a while, due to the fact that temp jobs give you a wide-range of experience at top-notch companies.
We discussed temporary work further, and here are some of the key takeaways from the conversation:
1. Be Confident and Comfortable
“I’ll look through (an applicant’s) history to see if they’ve worked with other staffing agencies,” Igari says, “because it shows me that they’ll be comfortable.” Staffing agencies, though sometimes bothersome, are there as a resources, Igari stresses. In some ways, they are meant to be another set of eyes and ears for those on the job hunt. For jobseekers, it’s important to make sure you approach each new situation and gig with a sense of confidence, and that you can show employers that you can assimilate easily.
If there are full-time offers that are going to be handed out, they’re probably not going to the temp workers who are consistently stressing, and are unsure of their abilities to continue doing tasks into the long-term.
2. Contract Work is Not a Good Way to Switch Careers
For those of you looking to explore other more unfamiliar career areas, staffing agencies are probably not going to be your best bet. Though it’s not impossible to successfully switch professions with the help of an agency, a business will look to staffing agencies to do the bloodhound work for them, and track down exactly what they need; not find someone to train.
“Staffing agencies aren’t the best place for a career switch,” Igari said. “We’re basically match-makers, and companies come to us if they have a need. Our job is to find people who have that work experience, and that can jump right in.”
3. Don’t be Afraid to Reach Out
“A quick email, along with a resume,” Igari says, is the best way to express interest in working with a staffing agency or recruiter. Most staffing agencies, like The Creative Group, will have job listings on their sites. So doing some searching around before-hand, and then approaching the agency with a tailored resume and skillset in mind is only going to set you ahead.
“It’s helpful if you know what you want to do,” she says, “and have some experience.” That way, recruiters and agencies can quickly and efficiently bring applicants to their clients to address what they need.
4. Understand a Recruiter’s Role
A recruiter and an agency are looking out for the interests of their clients, and that may or may not mesh with the interests of a job applicant. If you need a job — any job – you’re probably not going to have your resume forwarded to a company looking for a designer. Again, clients are looking for workers who are ready to go, not someone who needs weeks of training to start a project.
This can be frustrating for applicants, who may feel that a recruiter or agency isn’t doing anything for them. As match-makers, agencies are given a need by a business, and then find applicants who can address that need. If you’re not getting calls, it may be because your skills are not in high demand.
“When companies reach out, they know that we’re recommending candidates who are a good fit,” Igari said. “We’ll be recommending the people that have the solid skillsets that these companies are looking for.”
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