Making Ends Meet – Can You Make a Career Out of Temping?

Times are hard, and you’ve been having trouble finding a job. Maybe you like the variety of several different workplaces, or you need special schedule accommodations. Have you considered temping for a living? It is possible to make temping your career – and to succeed financially and personally while you do it. Contrary to popular belief, temps can enjoy benefits – and pay – tantamount to that of full-time employees. Here are a few pointers if you’re considering going full-time with your temporary lifestyle.

The most essential element of temping for a living is having reliable, sympathetic contacts at more than one temp agency. Signing up with ten temp agencies gives you ten times the opportunities – and you never know when an agency will lose clients or experience a slow slump. Being in contact with more than one agency not only increases your likelihood of steady employment, it can also allow you to bargain for better positions as your availability is vied for by several competing agencies.

Develop a routine for your temporary life – and a rapport with your employers. Even if you’re not on assignment, you should be in close contact with the agencies who are looking for work. Make sure your potential employers are familiar with your schedule – and your willingness to go on the job. It’s a good idea to ask whether your contact prefers to communicate via telephone or e-mail – most agencies have busy early morning hours and may prefer to check in with you once or twice a week instead of daily. Know your contacts’ preferences and stay in touch – you’ll be the first one they consider when they hand out jobs. As you get to know your representatives at a temp agency, they will be more likely to offer you increased rates of pay or recommend you to prospective employers. A little work reaps big dividends in this case.

Just because you are a temp doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life without vacations or health care. Remember, you’re a temp and your availability is arranged with the agency, not the employer. With enough advance notice, it may be possible to gain much more time off work for doctor’s appointments and vacations than at a traditional job. And many temp agencies offer vacation benefits comparable to that of full-time employers after you’ve accrued the proper number of hours with that agency. Ask your representative at the agency for a copy of the agency’s benefits information – you may be pleasantly surprised. Many temp agencies also offer health benefits for as low as $10 per week which they automatically deduct from your paycheck. Worried about losing benefits when you work for another agency? Never fear – most of these week-to-week insurance plans allow you to pay the premiums yourself when not employed by the temp agency of origin. Check with your agency for details.

One of the most challenging facets of temping for a living is making ends meet on weekly paychecks. You may be used to being paid biweekly or even monthly, and your pay rates probably will vary – sometimes drastically – from week to week. But with a bit of planning, a commitment to savings and a sense of restraint, you can make a weekly paycheck support the kind of lifestyle you want. Remember to fulfill your financial obligations, budget for unexpected expenses or stretches of unemployment, and remain rational about that weekly paycheck. Most temp agencies offer direct deposit, so it’s easier than ever to manage the money you earn from your temporary employment.

Finally, the biggest boon to a full-time temp is an open-minded attitude. It may take a while to adjust to the lifestyle of temping – as a temporary employee you might often feel rootless and overlooked. Staying active in your temporary job search and practical about the challenges you will face will help you weather the rough patches – and succeed in your full-time career as a temporary employee.

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