Temp jobs: Now is the best time to get one. Here's how.

Temp jobs are increasingly in demand by companies across many sectors. Here are six ways to find the right assignment and turn it into a permanent job.

Matt Rourke/AP
Temp jobs might be the answer for America's 29 million unemployed workers, as the temporary industry sees an uptick in hiring. In this June 23 photo, Frank Wallace, who has been unemployed since May 2009, is seen during a rally organized by the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, in Philadelphia.

The recession is over, right? Well, if you’re one of the 29 million Americans out of work, it might not feel like it.

But the fact that companies are filling temp jobs at a healthy pace could be good news for the economy, and for job searchers. Some 31,000 temporary jobs were added in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and more than 360,000 have been added in the last eight months.

“It’s a good indicator that somewhere down the line we're going to see more hiring,” says Randall Hansen, publisher of Quintessential Careers, an online job search guide.

That’s because temporary jobs are often the first to open up at the end of a recession.

“Employers are a little hesitant to place their bets on the economy turning around right now,” says Melanie Holmes, a vice president with Manpower, an international temporary job placement agency. “Until they’re sure it’ll turn around, they’re not willing to take on a full-time permanent commitment.”

But the flexibility that a temporary employee offers is exactly what many companies are looking for at this point in the economic recovery – before they start actively filling permanent positions.

“The majority of jobs being created right now are temporary jobs,” affirms Carl Camden, CEO of Kelly Services, an international placement firm. “It’s always good to look where more job creation is taking place,” and to get a foot in the door before temporary positions start becoming permanent ones, he adds.

Here are some tips for landing a good temp job, and for turning your assignment into something permanent:

  • Go to a hiring firm that specializes in your industry. There are firms that work specifically in education, the sciences, accounting and finance, and heavy industry. Find one that suits your skill set. Or, if you have a specific company you want to work for, go directly to the temporary hiring firm that they use.
  • Look for referrals for temp agencies from friends, family, career websites and blogs. “See who seems to go the extra mile in helping you find an assignment,” says Mr. Camden. “Different firms have different reputations.”
  • You can also try calling a company directly that you’d like to work for and pitch yourself as a temporary employee. “Basically, you’re recruiting the job,” said Bill Dueease, author of “Go to Play Everyday,” a career guide. “Going after the job you really want dramatically increases the chances you have of being hired.”
  • Once you get a temp job, do your job well, of course, but also look for ways to go above and beyond the assignment. Make suggestions for how things could be run more efficiently, and volunteer for tasks outside the duties of your job, suggests Mr. Hanson.
  • Network as much as possible. Take the time to get to know your co-workers – eat lunch together, join the office softball team, attend after-work outings, make friends with people in other departments. “Don’t feel ostracized because you’re a temp,” says Hansen – use the opportunity to become a “known quantity” at the company.
  • Keep looking for a permanent job. If you do land a temp job, there’s no guarantee that it will ultimately become permanent, even if you do make a good impression. Keep your options open, and keep sending out résumés.
of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of 5 free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.