By Jim Wong, CPA | April 30, 2013

The jobs market is on the mend, but for many people, temporary or contract jobs are a necessary stepping stone to gainful employment. “During the last three years, the temp industry added more jobs in the United States than any other, according to the American Staffing Association, the trade group representing temp recruitment agencies, outsourcing specialists and the like,” says Erin Hatton in a recent New York Times article.

Trends also show an increase in temporary hiring typically precedes an economic recovery which is good news for unemployed workers.

Temporary vs. Temp-to-Hire

Temporary positions have a finite schedule and zero expectation for permanent work. It can be full- or part-time, and can be great assignments for job seekers who want to get back in the game after some time off. They can also be great for job seekers to earn a pay check and get some experience while they continue their hunt for a permanent position.

Temp-to-hire positions have a defined timeframe, but they may lead to full time permanent employment as they often are auditions for permanent positions. Temp-to-hire positions fill a void for those companies those who are considering a new position or on the hunt for a replacement.

Common Misconceptions

Some accounting and finance professionals fail to consider the option of interim work because of misconceptions about what it does or doesn’t entail. Following are some common misconceptions debunked.

Temporary work is low-level work.
Accounting and finance professionals have embraced consulting because it offers flexibility and because they can secure challenging, diverse assignments. On the company side, they find they can readily gain access to highly-skilled finance and accounting professionals who can offer specialized expertise from bookkeeping to interim chief financial officer duties in the long- and short-term.

Temporary work is short term, sporadic, and doesn’t pay well.
Professionals with sought-after skills typically find they can work as much or as little as they want. Temporary assignments can last a few days to more than a year. As far as wages, many positions pay on par with salaried ones. If you have highly sought skills, you can even command a premium.

You can’t include temporary work on a resume.
Hiring managers are aware project work provides valuable experience for candidates and it can also enhance their skills.

You can’t develop new skills.
Accounting and finance professionals are often involved in challenging projects, similar to what they might find in a full-time position.

You can’t continue your job search.
You may need to adjust your job search, but there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to continue with the hunt. There are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The company you’re working for may have a permanent position open up and because you are already there, you have a leg up on any outsiders.
  • The people you’ll meet through projects could even recommend you for a position they heard about through their networks.

“If we want good jobs rather than just any jobs, we need to figure out how to preserve what is useful and innovative about temporary employment while jettisoning the anti-worker ideology that has come to accompany it,” says Hatton.

In a competitive market, temporary and temp-to-hire positions can be a foot in the door for job seekers. It can also help you gain new skills and experience. Don’t be afraid to try them. It may open up your eyes to new organizations or your dream job.

This article originally appeared on Clear Focus Financial Search.

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