So you can’t find a permanent job. Would you settle for a temp position?
In recent weeks, employers have issued back-to-back callouts for applicants to fill thousands of temporary, or contract, positions. The latest in metro Atlanta came this week from Alorica, which wants to fill 600 customer service jobs at its Kennesaw call center by the end of November.
With the U.S. unemployment rate at 7.8 percent as reported Friday, and the the most recent metro Atlanta rate at 8.9 percent, finding full-time employment remains a big challenge for many.
Beth Herman, regional vice president for Manpower Group in Atlanta, however, said the outlook for contract work is “very, very strong.”
In its annual “talent shortage” survey, the placement agency said 49 percent of U.S. employers are having difficulty filling critical positions, which include skilled trades, engineering, information technology, sales, accounting and finance, drivers, mechanics, nurses, machinists and machine operators and teachers.
Herman said many employers are looking to fill those jobs with contract workers who can transition into permanent positions. She discussed the local outlook with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday:
AJC: How big is the need for contract workers locally?
Herman: “The need for contract workers has been very, very strong and, in fact, most of it is ‘temp-to-hire.’ It’s bring them in under contract with hopes of hiring [permanently].”
AJC: Why not hire permanently at the outset?
Herman: “It’s just to make sure they’re making the right hire, that the people fit in culturally, they’ve got the skills and the competencies and that they’re trainable. During the time of their contract it’s like a working interview. It gives them firsthand knowledge of how this person operates, how they approach work. Most companies are going to do more with less for the foreseeable future, and they just want to make sure they’re making the right hire, and temp-to-hire helps them achieve that.”
AJC: How has the perception of temp work changed over the years?
Herman: “People tend to think of temp [work] like what it was 20 years ago when people walked into a company and said ‘Oh my goodness, the secretary is off for the day. We need to get a temp in.’ It’s not like that anymore. The reason people use contract labor is (1) they have a permanent opening or (2) they have a long-term leave of absence, or it’s a project. Projects are another reason for hiring contract labor.”
Herman added that pay for contract work is typically one to a few dollars less than what a full-time worker would receive doing a comparable job, unless it’s a position in very high demand. In that case the pay could be equal to what a full-time worker is receiving. She said benefits vary widely from agency to agency, and job-seekers should do their homework to make sure a temp agency is the best fit for them.
Would you settle for a temp position if a permanent one couldn’t be found?