By Dr. Maria G. Hernandez
Latina Cubicle Confidential™
The Great Recession of 2008 has spawned the growth of more temporary or contract employment opportunities than ever before. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 54 percent of all jobs created in all sectors since 2009 have been temporary service and staffing jobs. So if you finally landed a “job”, it may be in a temporary cubicle. And, you may be in for a series of temporary assignments — permanently.
This is part of the new normal.
A permanent job with benefits may not be in your future. Employers are more likely to hire temps or contract employees to address workforce demands so that the cost of hiring and laying off staff is reduced. Rather than a traditional career, you may hold a series of projects that allow you to demonstrate your skills, build on them, and keep advancing to new levels of opportunity.
Managing your career begins to look more and more like managing a small business: You, Inc. Anyone who receives your work is your customer. Your daily goal aside from meeting your specific job requirement is to keep impressing customers so that you continue to be offered more opportunities. Your branding as a professional who knows how to deliver results is your lifeline. At the end of your temporary assignment, there is the possibility of extending it or moving on to the next gig.
Temporary employment has its benefits and drawbacks. If you enjoy change and the challenge of creating new working relationships often, or you want the flexibility to work around your own personal choices then contract work may be a good choice for you. If you like a routine, a regular pay check, and the stability of working with the same team — you’ll want to keep applying for a permanent job while working your temp job.
Unlike a resume showing you have been promoted to additional levels of responsibility, it will be important to highlight what results and outcomes you have achieved. As organizations become flatter, the title you have is less important than what you accomplish during your assignment. Your resume and your profile on LinkedIn need to highlight the projects you have completed, the benefits to your “client” and the various skills you gained in each of your assignments.
If you are looking for a way of turning your temporary assignment into a permanent one, work carefully to be included in your workplace team meetings and to become part of the organization — joining in volunteer programs or special initiatives.
The more you are seen as an integral part of the team the more likely you are seen as essential to sustain the work flow. Build a strong relationship with your boss who will be motivated to minimize the disruption of hiring someone new to the team. If you do find other work, don’t leave a temporary job without fair notice (typically 2 weeks) or blow off the last few weeks simply because you have landed the perfect job.
There are consequences to burning bridges with your last boss — even if he or she managed you for just 3 to 6 months. Stay professional and work with your boss to make sure someone else is prepared to take your role. No matter how unlikely it may seem you’ll cross paths with your old boss in the future — don’t take the chance — you may need a reference or letter of recommendation. Make it a part of your career strategy to keep all of your former employers as pleased as possible.
Dr. Maria G. Hernandez has 20 years experience consulting in both the United States and Mexico to senior executives in Fortune 50 companies and facilitated change initiatives for elected officials and their staff. She has worked in academia, business, nonprofits, technology startups, and public agencies. For more information, visit Latina Cubicle Confidential™.