6 Ways Temporary Work Can Help Fill a Career Gap

A puzzle has a piece missing that says "Job" in the empty space

If life were a 1950s sitcom, you'd have a job at the office on Main Street, work there until you received your gold watch and then retire to Florida with a full pension. But it's the 21st century, and hardly anyone lives like Ward Cleaver anymore. Frequent career changes have become the norm, and, in some industries, layoffs are common — even predictable. Temporary work is a good way to bridge a career gap and keep paying your bills. Here's why:

1. Temporary work lets you try a job before you commit

Temporary employment used to mean spending a day or, at most, a week at a client company; today, you're just as likely to work on contracts lasting weeks, months or even longer.

This gives you time to decide if the fit is right. It also allows the organization space to monitor your success in the role, evaluate your skills and abilities, and determine your compatibility with the corporate culture. If a full-time job opens up, you'll be well-positioned to land it since you and the employer are already familiar with each other. If the organization is impressed with your performance as a temp, and they have the budget, they may even create a new full-time position for you.

2. Temporary work enables you to build experience

Doing something different for a while can enhance your skills, whether you're a new grad or a seasoned professional. You not only build skills you can apply directly to the job, but you also gain experience working in different industries and for different types of companies. The result: You can compile a varied background that shows hiring managers you're flexible, adaptable and proactive. You also can get a better sense of the type of work or organization that appeals to you most.

3. Temporary work helps fill resume gaps

Temporary work is a verifiable addition to your resume, and, in fact, hiring managers consider extended temporary assignments comparable to full-time roles. Even though most hiring managers know many workers have experienced layoffs in the past through no fault of their own, an extended gap in your resume may still raise a red flag.

4. Temporary work creates new connections

On a temporary assignment, you'll meet and interact with new people. You'll build your professional network, which can help you stay current with developments in your field, get trusted advice about professional challenges and lead to other employment opportunities.

5. Temporary work through a staffing agency can lead to more than just good gigs

By registering with a staffing agency, you have a better chance of identifying temporary assignments. You also can begin reaping the rewards of this relationship immediately, even if you haven't yet been placed on assignment.

The best staffing firms offer excellent career advice and opportunities for professional development. Forging new skills and refining old ones while you search for jobs will help you have a more successful job hunt.

6. Temporary work offers competitive pay and access to benefits

The best staffing firms can find you engagements that offer competitive pay rates, and some provide the opportunity to earn holiday and bonus pay once certain requirements are met. Top staffing agencies also provide their temporary workers with access to benefits such as insurance options and a 401(k) plan.

If you are out of work, consider contacting a temporary staffing agency that specializes in your field. Staffing experts will assess your skills and qualifications, determine which roles might be a good fit for you, and help you find temporary work that will enhance your career as your search for full-time work continues.