Thousands of accounting and finance professionals each day choose temp work for the many benefits it provides, including the following:
- A variety of engagements that allow you to hone existing skills and develop new ones
- Exposure to a diverse set of individuals — critical for building your network
- Financial freedom that allows you to be more selective about the full-time opportunities while you're generating income
- A flexible schedule for those who want to spend more time with their families or focus on a hobby or other interest
Still, some steer clear of temp work largely because of persistent myths, especially that temp work is just about entry-level positions. Let's set the record straight:
Here are six myths surrounding temp work — and the reality:
Myth 1: Temp work is low-level work
Reality: As the needs of businesses and workers have changed over the years, the temporary industry has evolved. Today, the fastest growth is occurring in professional and technical occupations, as both businesses and professionals from all backgrounds and skill levels have come to realize the benefits of having greater flexibility. Professionals have embraced the consulting lifestyle because they can secure challenging, diverse assignments and receive competitive compensation while still maintaining some control over when, where and how much they work.
For their part, companies have found they can readily gain access to highly skilled finance professionals who can supply specialized expertise — ranging from bookkeeping help to interim CFO duties — for both immediate and long-term projects. Should they have entry-level positions to fill, they have access to candidates at this stage in their careers as well.
Myth 2: Temp work will hurt my prospects of getting hired on a full-time basis
Reality: Quite the contrary. Many businesses view interim hiring as a way to evaluate individuals for full-time positions. To bridge gaps, they’re bringing in the most accomplished interim professionals they can find, and many firms are evaluating the skills and cultural fit of these individuals with an eye toward making them full-time employees if business conditions continue to improve.
Myth 3: Temporary work is short term, sporadic and low paying
Reality: Although project consulting frequently offers the option of working fewer hours than a full-time role might require, professionals with sought-after skills usually find that they can work as much as they want. In fact, according to the American Staffing Association, 79 percent of temporary and contract employees work full time — virtually the same percentage as the rest of the workforce. Also, temporary assignments can last from a few days to more than a year.
As to wages, many temporary positions pay on par with salaried ones, and individuals with the most sought-after skills can often command a premium. To attract the most highly skilled professionals, staffing firms offer competitive wages and benefits, which often include access to health insurance, vacation and holiday pay, and even retirement plans.
Myth 4: You can’t include temporary work on a resume
Reality: As the temporary industry has grown and expanded, interim assignments have come to be viewed more as high-level consulting projects and less like entry-level positions. Hiring managers understand that project work provides valuable experience that can enhance a candidate’s abilities.
Myth 5: You can’t develop new skills working for a temporary staffing company
Reality: Accounting and finance professionals who work on a temporary basis are often involved in projects that are as interesting and challenging as those they might encounter in full-time positions. In addition, a staffing firm specializing in accounting and finance positions will stay abreast of the latest industry developments and offer complimentary training opportunities to help project professionals upgrade their skills and even earn accreditations.
Myth 6: If you work on a temporary basis, you can’t continue your job search
Reality: Depending on how much you choose to work, you may need to make some adjustments as to how and when you conduct your job search, but it shouldn’t be too difficult. It may involve simply shifting your networking and research activities into the early morning or evening hours or possibly during your lunch break.
Also, keep in mind that your temporary assignment can also help you advance your job search. You never know when a position might open at the company where you’re working, or others you meet during the course of your assignment may be willing to recommend you for a position they’ve heard about through their network.
Are you interested in seeing the temporary job openings out there?
Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2013 and was recently updated to reflect more current information.