New findings from talent development consultancy Lee Hecht Harrison indicate that employers remain cautious in hiring permanent, full-time employees and are bringing on temporary or contract employees as a flexible approach to filling their labor needs. And according to the results of CareerBuilder.com’s second-quarter 2013 job forecast, which included input from more than 2,000 hiring managers and HR professionals, 32 percent of employers plan to hire contract or temporary workers in Q2.
Based on CareerBuilder’s latest annual Summer Jobs Forecast, released earlier this month, seasonal hiring expectations will continue to improve over initial post-recession years. The nationwide survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers and HR professionals showed that nearly three in 10 employers (29 percent) said they plan to hire seasonal workers this summer.
Why Temp Work?
One of the key benefits of taking on temporary or contract work is that it allows a professional to audition for an employer while determining if the situation is right.
Short-term contract work can bring a professional closer to a coveted, full-time position. Temp jobs can provide highly skilled, deeply experienced professionals with flexible work schedules, diverse and challenging assignments, new skills, and even high pay rates, according to the American Staffing Association.
Although temp jobs don’t come with a permanent employment guarantee, they often result in permanent hires. According to CareerBuilder’s Q2 hiring forecast, approximately 24 percent of employers intend to transition some contract or temporary staff into permanent employees in the second quarter.
“Seasonal work — whether in retail or engineering — is also a good entry point into the labor force for job-seekers, as a vast majority of employers (67 percent) will consider summer hires for permanent positions,” Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America, said in an announcement of the summer hiring findings.
There are a number of practical steps to take for industrial professionals who are looking to turn a temp assignment into a permanent job. Ultimately, the best overall strategy is to take a long-term approach to a temp position by performing as if you’re a permanent employee.
However, a flexible work schedule and varied work do come with a price. Temp workers often aren’t afforded health insurance benefits, paid time off, sick leave, and other perks given to full-time, salaried employees. (Some employment agencies step in and offer limited benefits and training programs to long-term temps.) Temp workers also risk receiving shoddy treatment from supervisors or full-time co-workers, as they are often viewed as outsiders who won’t stick around long enough to fully integrate with the work group.
Seasonal or temp jobs thus may not be right for everyone, but it’s best to keep an open mind when looking for work.
“While the majority of workers prefer full-time employment, we recommend that job-seekers assess all available career options,” Greg Simpson, senior vice president and career transition practice leader for Lee Hecht Harrison, said in a statement. “A part-time or contract position can bridge a gap on an individual’s resume, keeps the job-seeker connected to the job market, and can be the catalyst to a full-time position.
“Career paths seldom follow a straight line,” Simpson continued, “so it’s important to be open to all opportunities.”
Where Are the Seasonal/Temp Jobs?
While summer jobs are most often associated with the retail and hospitality sectors, CareerBuilder’s latest seasonal hiring findings indicate that companies hiring summer workers in 2013 will be offering positions in a variety of sectors, including manufacturing (34 percent) and information technology (34 percent). Temp positions in engineering support are also in demand (18 percent).
“As the needs of businesses and workers have changed over the years, the temporary industry has evolved,” according to Robert Half International (RHI). “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.”
In other findings, released in March, CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) released a list of occupations that are growing at accelerated rates. The study used EMSI’s extensive labor market database, which pulls from over 90 national and state employment resources and includes detailed information on employees and self-employed workers.
The following is the fastest-growing temporary jobs in industrial or STEM fields, according to CareerBuilder and EMSI’s findings:
- Team assemblers, who help to assemble an entire product or part of a product — median hourly wage: $13.25
- Maintenance and repair workers, who maintain and repair machines, equipment, and buildings — $16.94
- Heavy equipment and tractor-trailer truck drivers, who may assist with unloading — $17.96
- Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers, who assess products for defects, wear, and deviations from specifications — $16.63
- Sales representatives in services, who sell services to businesses and consumers — $24.60
- Computer support specialists, who help people or organizations that rely on computer software or equipment — $23.58
- Computer programmers, who write code to create and develop software programs — $34.48
- Business operations specialists, who analyze and re-engineer business processes to enhance product or service delivery and other functions — $34.48
- Electricians, who install and maintain electrical systems in businesses and homes, etc. — $23.64
- Sales representatives in wholesale and manufacturing, who sell goods for wholesalers and manufacturers to businesses, government groups, and others — $25.55.
As suggested by these median hourly wages, temp positions pay on par with full-time salaried jobs, and, according to RHI, “individuals with the most sought-after skills can often command a premium.”
Too Late to Apply for Seasonal Work?
If you’re considering seasonal positions, it isn’t too late to apply — though the clock is ticking. More than half of all employers (53 percent) are expected to complete their seasonal hiring in May or June. So update your resume and cover letter and research temp employment prospects now.