New Grads: Temping to Become Something More

Career & Workplace

The plan used to be that if you did not know what you wanted to do after graduating from college, then you could temp for awhile. You could try on different jobs and figure out what you liked without making a commitment. It could take you a few weeks or a few months, and all the while you would be earning some money.
That plan or blueprint has changed in these times of recession. More and more, the jobs offered out there are listed as “temp, ongoing” or “temp to perm.” Employers are trying out the candidates that they choose to hire without investing a great amount of money in terms of pay or time in terms of training. If it works out, you may be hired from a temp position into a permanent one. However, this means you have to be willing to take a gamble: low pay and no benefits now for higher pay and benefits later. You also need to hit the ground running. Offices are running very lean these days, with a few people doing a lot. People who temp or do contract work often feel as if they keep having to “start all over again,” paying their dues to get into a better-paying position.
How you perform your job is important. It can be tough in a temp position because the permanent people may feel like there is no justification in investing time to help you learn the ropes. It is also difficult to live on a low salary while trying to figure out how to pay for basic things such as health insurance and health care. However, if you want to be considered for a higher-paying, more permanent position, you have to do the job well.
This is a situation where a strong resume can help you. A resume not only gets you an interview. It can also help you negotiate your way into a more permanent position. Combine a strong job performance with a resume that illustrates that you have the education and skills to perform a higher level, permanent position. Watch for on-the-job information that you can use to make you a compelling choice. You may have skills on your resume that you are not using in your temp position now; however, you need to highlight those skills that make you a valuable asset to the company, so valuable that they will want to keep you on permanently.