Should I Take a Temp Job?

If you’re in the midst of a job search that is dragging on longer than you expected, you may begin to feel additional pressure to get income from wherever you can find it. (Legally, of course.) This begs the question whether you should start looking for temporary job openings.

Temp work can be a mixed bag. If it’s a role that falls within the scope of your career goals, it could be an onramp to a permanent hire. On the other hand, if it’s just a stopgap for you and you see no future in that firm, it can be a distraction to finding a job with actual purpose—not to mention when the temp job ends, you could find yourself in the same place you were before. There’s no right or wrong answer here—you just need to be aware of what’s at stake and go into the process with your eyes open. If you are considering taking temp work, here are some tips to get you thinking in the right direction.

Look for Openings within Your Area of Expertise

There are basically two reasons for this. First—firms that are hiring temporary workers don’t want to spend a lot of time and money training temps. Aside from learning their workflow, they expect you already to have the skills to step in and do the work. Second—taking temp work within your wheelhouse gives you a better chance at leveraging your skills to turn that temp position into a permanent one. In that way, the temp position actually becomes part of your job search strategy, rather than a distraction from it.

One other quick tip on this topic: When you land a temp job, especially in a firm or a job position that fits your career profile, treat the job as though you’re a permanent hire. Jump in with both feet, put your heart into the work, and start problem-solving wherever it’s appropriate. The more you make yourself indispensable in that position, and the happier you make your superiors, the more likely you are to be offered an extension or a permanent role in the company.

Tweak Your Resume for Temp Positions

By default, most people tailor their resumes to attract long-term employment, but this type of formatting can work against you when looking for temp jobs because these employers don’t want you coming on board with a false set of expectations. Make a few tweaks to your resume and LinkedIn profile to emphasize your willingness to work as a temp. Adding the phrase “available for temporary or contract work” to your career objective section is a good start. Include any previous temp jobs into your work experience. Also, take a look at your skills section and try to break these skills down into more bite-sized snippets. (For example, if you have a “sales and marketing” bullet point in this section, you can separate them into “sales” and “marketing.”) Temp roles are often task-specific, so expanding your list of skills makes it easier for employers to qualify you for temp work.

Advertise Your Interest in Temp Work

A lot of times, people in your network don’t recommend you for temp work simply because they assume you wouldn’t be interested. If you’ve positioned yourself as a “career person,” they may feel you wouldn’t want a job if it has an expiration date. Start spreading the word in your network, both in person and online, that you’re open to temp jobs. You might be surprised at what recommendations start coming your way.

Temp jobs are sometimes necessary stops on the path toward a permanent position, but ultimately the decision lies with you. If you do decide to seek temp work, I always try to recommend taking roles that serve your long-term career purposes, either at a firm where you want to be permanent, or in a role that will build your career profile in some way.

For a free 30-minute consultation, shoot me an email at, or give me a call at 646-320-1126. Working together, we can create a workable plan of action to get you into the career you’re ultimately looking for.