Monday, February 9, 2009

Get Over Yourself

I've known some people in the past who have been adverse to the idea of taking a temporary or contract position when they've been looking for work. They thought that, in addition to it not being a "real" job, that they were too good for that type of position and that it was better to hold out for a permanent position somewhere instead.

It's understandable that many people would prefer to have a permanent position with benefits and advancement potential. I can't and won't dispute that; some people and their families rely on those benefits. What I will challenge, however, is the idea that anyone is too good for this type of position, because they're not.

Here are some reasons why you should take a contract or temp position if you're looking for work:

1. It's money. Enough said.

2. It's a way to learn about a company. My contract positions have given me the chance to see a number of Fortune 500 companies from the inside, including some that are in the same industry. It's great for finding out what companies you would like to work for on a permanent basis, and which ones to avoid like a simile about the plague.

3. Temporary positions can lead to permanent ones. This will vary depending on the type of position, the company, and said company's current hiring situation. Generally, though, working as a contractor, consultant, or freelancer for a company is an excellent way to show them firsthand what a great employee you would be; it's something no resume, cover letter, or interview can show them.

4. Outsourcing is a growing trend. I can (and will) post about this at length, but more and more positions are being outsourced to consulting firms, staffing companies, and independent freelancers. The reasons for this are too complex to get into in this post (there are a number of factors involved), but it shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. Many types of jobs that used to be strictly in-house (human resources functions, accounting, etc.) are now going to contract staff in addition to the long-standing ones such as IT and advertising. If you refuse to take a contract gig, you will increasingly put yourself out of competition for a lot of good jobs.

5. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. Seriously, many people in this country, let alone world, would be very thankful to have any job right now. Going for a permanent job is fine, and in the long term, it's probably more compatible with your goals, but for right now you just need to suck it up. If you get the opportunity, I highly recommend the movie Slumdog Millionaire -- not just because it's a great film, but because it can really put your current situation in perspective (it did for me).

Ahh, catharsis. :)


  1. Aw, but I wanna be a beautiful snowflake!

    Each of my last two regular FT jobs started as temp assignments. They liked me, I liked them, and temp became perm. Cool companies, too - a biotech research startup (which, alas, went kaput) and a university-affiliated hospital. Now I'm in another temp job in a specialized healthcare recruitment company. Even if it doesn't morph into a FT position, I've gained experience in a new field *and* the big boss's son just started working on the same grad degree that I intend to pursue. Double bonus!

  2. @perrik: Well, okay, you can be one if you want. :) Glad to hear that this has worked out well for you, and I think you have the right mindset for your current gig too!