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Could a Temp Job Help You Switch Careers?

By Christy Bieber – Aug 10, 2019 at 9:18AM

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It could be just the ticket if you're tired of your current profession.

Being happy at your job can make a huge difference in your quality of life. Unfortunately, many people who embark on a specific career path ultimately find they regret their choice. Perhaps your chosen career doesn't use your skills as fully as you anticipated, bores you more than planned, or doesn't pay much.

Whatever the reason, a mid-career change to a new field can be a major challenge because employers often want experience you may not have. But there are ways to transition to a new profession that you'll hopefully enjoy much more than your current work. One possible option to consider: Start with a temp job. 

Here are three reasons a temp job can help you to jump ship and start developing a new career.

Women pointing at search window that says "Find job"

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Employers are often more willing to take a chance on temporary workers

Employers are often wary of bringing on a worker transitioning from a different profession -- especially if you're looking for a midlevel position that requires relevant experience.

Hiring a full-time worker can mean investing a lot of money and time in training and establishing the new staff member. And firing someone who doesn't work out can be fraught with complications, including the potential for litigation if the worker claims wrongful termination. All these downsides may make employers unwilling to give you a chance. But these complications don't exist with temp workers. If an employee comes in through a temp agency, the understanding is that the job isn't permanent, so an employer isn't taking on any risk if things go wrong.

Because it's so much easier to come aboard as a temp, you could get your start at a company you're hoping to work for by filling a short-term vacancy and impressing your potential boss into hiring you full-time. Even if you can't turn that specific temp position into a regular job, you'll make connections at the company and could end up on the top of the list of perspective hires when a full-time position opens up. 

2. Temp jobs can help build your resume

Even if you can't transition from a temp job at the first company that brings you on board, it may still be worth taking any temp job available in your chosen new field. That's because getting some relevant work experience on your resume can make all the difference.

A few different temp jobs directly relevant to the work you want can provide the skills and experience to make you a far more attractive candidate when you apply for regular work. You won't be entry-level or untested anymore; you'll be ready to impress at job interviews with your resume and with stories of your relevant successes. 

3. Temp jobs could help fill income gaps if you have to start lower on the totem pole 

Sometimes, you're going to have to take a big pay cut if you want to transition into a different industry. This can be a problem if you have lots of financial obligations.

If you must start with a part-time internship, or go back to school to learn new skills, or start at the bottom of the ladder, taking on an additional temp job could help you maintain your lifestyle. Many such jobs are part-time, seasonal, or second-shift work. A job that frees you up to get relevant experience in your chosen field during normal working hours can make a career transition possible.

Hopefully, you'll have to do this only for a short time until you can make a full-time living in your new profession. It'll be hard, but it's worth it if you can switch to a career you really love. 

Is a temp job right for you?

Ultimately, your ability to use a temp job to change careers is going to vary a lot depending on the profession you're coming from and the field you're trying to transition into.

In some highly specialized fields, employers are unwilling or unable to take a chance on an untested candidate, even on a temporary basis. To transition into one of these fields, going back to school and starting at the bottom may be your only option. In many other professions, though, temp workers are routinely hired, and going to a temp agency could be the way to get your foot in the door. If you're not sure whether temp work could be an answer for you, reach out to a few temp agencies to explore your options. You may just be surprised by the success you have with this approach. 

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