Even in this job market, with job openings aplenty and few workers to fill them, temporary work may still be the way to go for many workers. In fact, many prefer contingent work, while others seek out more traditional employment relationships. A contractor for more than 10 years, I have worked with many of both types of people, Staffing firms naturally hope to find those of the former persuasion. Here’s my take on the pros and cons of working as a temp. Staffing firms that understand what we like and don’t may be able to do things differently in order to persuade us to give temping a chance.

The Good

By temping, you learn different things every day, which makes you more valuable in the job market because of the experience you gain. The pace of change is only limited by the pace at which you change assignments. If it wasn’t for contracting, I wouldn’t have the vast knowledge of different infrastructures that I do and be as marketable as I am.

Versatile. I have been with countless agencies and client companies over time, experiencing the myriad ways they conduct business. Each has offered a totally new experience from the other, with its own infrastructure and culture. As a result, I have learned to work with a variety of technologies, from networking to ticketing systems to how laptops are imaged.

Self-insight. Further, contending with the different company cultures reflected at the employee level has taught me a lot about myself in how I like to work and interact with others. This has made me a better person and worker, one who, I believe, is more valuable at a personal and business level.

The Bad

Benefits. Yet temping has its downsides, the largest of which being little to no benefits. While I know there are exceptions, I have yet to take on an assignment that came with PTO. As a result, I haven’t had a vacation in more than 10 years. I work or I don’t get paid. Period. Test waters. For some people, if their financial situation allows, contracting can be a way of life. It’s a great way to feel out a company to see if its where you want to work or not. Some people may not be able to commit to a full-time 40-hour per week job, so contracting would make sense for them. It’s also great if you have just lost your job and need to get back into the workforce, as most businesses, in my experience, are try-before-you-buy.

Isolating. It can also be isolating to be a temp worker. You are not part of a team and not included in status meetings or fun stuff outside of work. You are responsible for just one part of the job. Doing it well is expected of you. And if you mess up, you are likely out.

My New Reality

Having said that all that, I have recently accepted a position as a traditional employee — by way of a temp-toperm role. And it’s not just because it turned into a traditional position. I actually find it one of the best places I have ever worked for. The people are friendly people, the hours are great, and it offers great benefits, etc.

And I found it through an equally great staffing firm — a firm I would recommend to anyone considering working with them. And done right, contracting definitely can be a career builder and a great opportunity for many reasons.

Staffing firms that want to attract more talent in this economy need to understand what temps are looking for. When it comes to benefits, firms that offer them will attract a great number of workers. I know that might not be feasible for all job types, but for those hard-to-fill roles, that might be the deciding factor.