Unless you are lucky enough to have a trust fund, large investments, or a really wealthy family, most of us in the workforce seek employment to not only meet our career desires, but also to pay the bills. As subjects to various economic and business forces, many of us in the workforce have been and will continue to be unemployed at various points in time throughout our career. These could be due to layoffs resulting from poor company performance, department outsourcing, or an inability to fit in with certain corporate cultures. Losing a job can be a very difficult and stressful experience affecting a person’s confidence as the period of unemployment continues beyond original expectations. It can take months to find work and oftentimes finding a job can become a full-time role in and of itself!
Many individuals initially decide to pursue solely permanent, full-time positions. In today’s job market many find the online application process daunting. More often than not, people are sent the standard ‘thank you for your application’ email with no indication of when they can expect to hear back from the potential employer to determine if, at all, an interview will take place. Additionally, permanent roles often take 30-60 days to fill from the point in which the application is submitted to when an offer is made. Taking all this into consideration, what can a person do to alleviate the stress of finding a role while being able to meet financial obligations?
Suggestion: As unemployment stretches beyond a few months, it would be worthwhile to explore contractual, or temporary, work.
Many initial reactions to this advice are often that of hesitation and resistance. However, let’s examine the concept of temporary work further. A contractual role could very well offer a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s why:
- Provides a way to earn money
- Unemployment pay is short term and varies by state. It may cover the bills for a few months, but unemployment equates to only a portion of your compensation.
- Shortens resume gaps
- The wider the unemployment gap on your resume, the more likely a hiring manager will question why. Contractual roles demonstrate a person’s commitment to being productive and are considered more favorable than a blank space.
- Learn about the employer before committing
- Contractual opportunities present an opportunity to test out a company to determine cultural fit through a ‘working interview’. Both company and employee can ‘test drive’ before the ‘buy’.
- Begin a new career path/learn new skill sets
- This could be a great way to learn a new ERP system, expand on technical skills, or simply acquire new ones.
- Expand network contacts
- Get to know more professionals who can serve as references or even get you connected to other hiring managers/decision makers.
- May provide an avenue for a permanent job
- Many of these roles open up to become direct hire positions. Often the stars align – you’ve proven your value and there’s room in the budget to add a head count. Win-win!
- The company culture may not foster a collaborative environment for temps
- Temps may be treated as ‘stepchildren’, not part of company events or employee appreciation efforts.
- Pay range may be less than that of a permanent role
- Companies pay for the skills that are needed, not necessarily the prior salary of the employee that fills the position.
- Fewer benefits than a perm position
- Benefits are not typically provided until an employee has worked so many hours with a company and even those offered do not necessarily mirror those provided via a permanent position.
- Short runway for learning
- Employers need help NOW! There is a pressing need that creates stress for the hiring manager. As a result, there isn’t always time to learn or digest information. Temp hires must be able to adapt and learn quickly.
If you find that unemployment is stretching beyond your original timeframe, look into contractual, or temporary work. It may not be the permanent solution that you seek, but it will allow you to continue to strengthen your skillsets, create earnings, and provide good topics of conversation for future interviews. Another big bonus – it could possibly ward off the decision to take a less than ideal role that would be taken out of desperation!