You probably have friends or family who have taken contract jobs through staffing agencies. But is doing that a good fit for someone with your skills and expertise?
Unlike the outdated notion of the “temp agency” of our parents’ and grandparents’ generation, the better staffing agencies offer competitive pay and interesting projects. You can get your foot in the door with prestigious employers and find a wide range of jobs at virtually every skill and experience level.
What changed between the temp agency model and high-end
For most people, the days are gone when you worked at one or two companies your whole career. Many workers now seek opportunity by building their resumes at different kinds of companies and jobs. Much of today’s contract work is more comparable to full-time positions, with assignments lasting from weeks to years, and offering benefits like health insurance.
Why are so many companies hiring high-level contract employees? It’s not just about flexibility. They’re bringing in specialized expertise for critical projects and initiatives. In some cases, they’re offering contract workers permanent roles, but many people choose the mobility and often higher pay of contract work, building careers from one contract to the next, going where their skills are needed most.
According to the American Staffing Association (ASA), one-third of temporary and contract workers ultimately took a permanent job offer at their place of contract employment.
Contract work: The new fast-track
Career Development. For high-level professions in roles like engineering and marketing, contract work isn’t just the stop-gap “temp” work you do while waiting for your career to happen — it provides the opportunities to build your resume by giving you a diversity of work experiences. It also helps you build a robust professional network. In fact, 9 out of 10 employees interviewed by the American Staffing Association said contract work made them more employable.
Flexibility. All this freedom isn’t just for employers — many workers enjoy it too. Contracts often offer a pay premium over permanent work, and many workers use that extra money to subsidize taking more time off. Flexibility can be a perk, but for some who make a career out of a series of contract assignments, it’s actually the goal.
Self-promotion. Not keen on putting yourself out there? Long-term contract professionals know how to maximize their recruiter’s insights and effort. A truly professional recruiter who specializes in a skill knows how to market candidates to employers who may not have seen their value from a cursory resume inspection.
Beyond just sending you a list of job openings, a staffing agency recruiter can help you show your best possible self to potential employers. Along with sharing knowledge of local employers and the job market with you, they provide practical assistance with resume writing and interview preparation.
“I knew what I was looking for in my next position, and Brett [my recruiter] found a company that matched my ethics and values, and was a great fit for me. During the interview process, I thought salary was going to be an issue, but he even negotiated my salary for me.” — Veronica Jones, assistant project manager
Who is doing contract work?
Contract employees are a diverse group, with a growing number of highly skilled experts who have extensive technical, scientific or corporate experience. Contracting is especially prevalent in certain fields, like engineering and finance.
Contract work can be a good fit at different stages of your career:
Just starting out or starting over: Many entry-level professionals end up contracting to overcome the Catch-22 of needing experience to get a job. But for people who don’t have exposure to different workplaces, contracting is a great way to shop around for the career, workplace and job package you’d like the most. Bonus: You won’t look like a job hopper if you list one contracting agency on your resume with many assignments. It’s also worth noting that at this level, many employers treat contract assignments as auditions for permanent jobs.
Mid-career and eager for new challenges: Some professionals take contract work to get out of a career rut, shake things up and put their abilities to the test. Whether it is getting in on the ground level at a startup or working on cutting-edge automation technology, employers are often willing to take a chance on contractors, letting you show what you’re made of.
Highly skilled and filling a time-critical gap: Whether it’s mergers and acquisitions activities or setting up a new production line, some roles are essential but temporary in nature. Professionals in these specialties often use contract work to build lucrative careers moving from one company to the next as business needs arise.
Retired or semi-retired: Staffing recruiters are on the lookout for skilled retirees, and can find assignments that are less stressful than a permanent job but still interesting and well-compensated. Your knowledge and experience are invaluable, and employers welcome both.
If you’re investigating whether contract work is right for you, you can get an impression of what’s out there by meeting with a recruiter who specializes in your field. Only work with a professional recruiter who is focused on your career development, and remember that not all staffing agencies offer the same quality of experience.
For the third-consecutive year, Aerotek has received the Best of Staffing® Talent Award — the only award to recognize staffing agencies for proven superior service to job seekers. How many “temp agencies” can say that?
“During my time with Aerotek, I found that each time they sent me to a different assignment it was interesting. I picked up a new skill at each place and learned a different type of technology.” — Tony Layne, Electromechanical Assembler
If you’re interested in what contract job opportunities might be available to you, please explore our job board.