The main difference between a temporary and a permanent job is essentially that a permanent position has no defined end date, whereas with a temporary position does.
So how can someone benefit from a temporary job?
A temporary job is sometimes referred to as a contractual position and will come available for a wide variety of reasons. Perhaps there are needs for a specific project, or there is an unforeseen increase in the workload. There is also the possibility that it is a replacement for someone who has gone on parental leave or sick leave and they will be returning in the future. Temporary positions vary widely in length – from a few weeks to a year or longer.
The pros and cons of a temporary position
Many people consider permanent employment ideal because it offers job security and other benefits such as an annual bonus, health insurance and retirement contributions. In addition, many managers prefer to see stability on a person’s résumé, meaning that the person is not “job hopping” and changing jobs every year or so. It should be noted that the more frequently one occupies temporary positions, the more one risks being pigeon-holed as someone who is only considered for temporary jobs, so it is important to weigh the pros and cons before accepting a temporary position.
With that said, employment security is not what it was in our parents’ generation. We often read in the news about companies downsizing, outsourcing or closing altogether. In fact, nowadays, at least from an HR perspective, it’s considered a success if an employee stays in their position for a three- to five-year window before growing to a different position within the organization or leaving to go to another company entirely.
We have also seen a shift in values whereby traditional, permanent employment does not align with lifestyle choices. Some parents prefer to stay at home and focus on raising a family. Some people have aging parents or family members suffering from illness and need flexibility. Many millennials who have recently graduated want to start their career and also enjoy the freedom to travel or pursue personal projects. For individuals in these types of scenarios, temporary employment can offer options that a permanent position cannot.
When a temporary position can help your career
I can share firsthand experience because it was a temporary position that started off my career in Talent Acquisition. At the time I was a fresh-faced youngster a few years out of university with unbridled enthusiasm. I had the freedom to not be too concerned about the stability issue and it was a chance to try something new. Little did I know at the time that I was embarking on a journey that would launch my career. Not only did my employer convert me to a permanent status but I also picked up the skills required to work in HR without returning to university for additional specialization. This is my story, and I know countless others who have had a fresh start thanks to a temporary job.
As a recruiter, I can tell you that hiring managers widen the pool of candidates they are willing to consider in the interest of filling the position quickly. If you are looking to expand your skill set and your lifestyle permits it, a temporary job could be a great way to propel you in the direction you want to go.
If you work for a large, well-established company, you may even be able to benefit from a temporary position without sacrificing job security. Some companies offer the possibility to accept a temporary assignment then return to your position when the assignment is over. Many hiring managers actually favour someone from within the organization when the profession permits it, because they are already familiar with the company culture and practices. When the employee returns to their position, more often than not, new doors open because they have another perspective on the company and can benefit their manager and colleagues in new and more synergistic ways.
While a temporary position is not for everyone, I think it’s important to never dismiss possible opportunities. It often happens in our careers that taking a risk can be well worth the reward.