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Working Temp Jobs

Is Temping Right for You?

If you've felt the sting of layoffs and think that there is no such thing as a "permanent job" anymore, or if you're the adventurous type who likes new challenges and ever-changing working conditions, then "professional temping" might be right for you.

On the other hand, if you're the type of person who likes to settle in and set long-term career goals, then you might be happier with a so-called "permanent job".

Either way, you might take on temp jobs to test the waters of a new career, gain real-world experience after graduating, pay the mortgage if you've lost your permanent job, or as a bridge to quit a rotten permanent job as soon as possible.

If you're between jobs, then you might work what are referred to as temporary-to-permanent jobs (temp-to-permanent jobs or temp-to-perm jobs for short), as a means to pay bills while simultaneously looking for a long-term job.

Working temp jobs is referred to as "temping". Essentially, temping means "job hopping" or "job shopping". It's contingent work and sort of like being for rent, not for sale. Typically, a "temp" works at a company for a short time and then moves on to another.

There are essentially two types of temps, so to speak. One is more correctly referred to as a consultant or independent contractor. This type is self-employed and assumes all financial and legal risks. The other type is what this article is about. In addition to temp, which is short for temporary employee, this type is also referred to as a contract employee.

A temp is an employee of a temporary help services agency or a temp agency for short, not the employer for which he or she is currently temping. The temp agency essentially "leases" him or her by contract to one of its client companies, as a temporary employee. He or she might work for the same client for only a day or for weeks to months, before moving on to the next temp job assignment.

Meanwhile, the temp agency handles most of the business matters for the temp employee, such as withholding his or her federal and state taxes. The temp agency might also pay some to all of the temp employee's expenses for benefits, such as health and disability insurance.

The temp agency also collects the fee from its client company and pays the temp a percentage in regularly scheduled paychecks; for example, if the temp agency is charging a client $40/hour, then it might pay the temp $25/hour. Employers are typically willing to pay temps more than employees. That's because they don't have the same expenses for temps as they do for employees, such as those incurred for employee benefits.

There was a time when temping petty much meant filling in for employees who were on vacation or sick leave, but that has changed. Now, companies hire temps for several other purposes too, such as to work jobs that don't warrant hiring long-term employees and to contribute to projects that require special skills.

One of the biggest disadvantages of temping, is that temps are typically among the first to go in bad times; companies often cut temps before laying off employees. In turn, temp agencies lose some of their clients and as a result, will have fewer temp jobs to staff.

However, as conditions start showing signs of improvement, temps are also typically among the first to go back to work. That's because, under uncertain but improving conditions, companies are often more willing to risk hiring temps than long-term employees. In good times, temp job opportunities abound. In fact, employment services, of which temp agencies are the largest part, is among the fastest growing industries.

Companies also hire temps to "shop" for permanent employees, while avoiding expensive long-term commitments and costly hiring mistakes.

It also works the other way around: As a temp, you may "shop" companies for a temp-to-permanent job for as long as you want, without long-term commitment; better yet, you'll get paid to do it!

Tip:To find a temp job or a temp-to-permanent job, see the list under Find a Job: Temp Jobs in the left-navigation column or search for one. Of course, also try temp agencies (linked above too). Lastly, check top job banks, many of which list temp jobs and temp-to-perm jobs offered by temp agencies.
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