This time of year is always bittersweet for me. It’s my birthday, but my birthday falls on the same week of the anniversary of my mom’s passing. So instead of being in a celebratory mood, it’s more of a time of reflection for me. My mom has been the most influential person in my life, and needless to say, I learned a lot from her. She taught me many lessons; one in particular came to mind recently.
My mom used to tell me, “You can’t predict the outcome of everything. Some things just aren’t clear-cut and easy to see, like a hidden gem. So it’s easy to let things slip by. Don’t let a good opportunity slip through your fingers, because it may never come back.” Maybe that’s why I have taken on many endeavors that other people may have found risky or not worthy of their time. I never wanted to let the “hidden gem” slip through my fingers.
Last week someone asked me what I thought about temporary jobs. I told her it’s the “hidden gem” of the employment world. Most people look at temporary jobs, as the cliché goes, as “the ugly stepchild” of the job market. But to me, especially if you’re unemployed, it’s an opportunity to showcase your skills. I come across a lot of candidates who are hesitant to take temporary jobs because of certain misconceptions or assumptions. This is especially true for those who have been laid off after being gainfully employed for many years. I understand that in general most people want to hold out for the best opportunity, but how do you know for sure what the best opportunity is? Just because it’s a direct-hire position doesn’t necessarily make it better than a job that starts out as a temporary position.
For people who are currently unemployed, I always urge them to consider temporary positions. Many people do not realize how often temporary positions lead to “permanent” positions. No employer will guarantee that a temporary position will become permanent for various reasons. The reality is that even though the unemployment rate remains relatively high, companies are still having a hard time finding good talent. So even though a job may start out as a short-term project, if you go in and impress and wow the employer, they’ll have a hard time letting you go. A temporary job can be a gateway to get your foot in the door that may not have been available to you otherwise. And sometimes that’s all anyone really needs—a foot in the door—even if the door is slightly cracked open.
Once in the door, even if it doesn’t lead to a permanent position at that particular company, other positives can come out of the experience. You can continue to build your professional network by developing relationships with colleagues during your stint that could lead you to opportunities down the road. Moreover, you can enhance your skill set by learning new technologies or processes that you may not have been exposed to in the past. The bottom line is, the pros outweigh the cons by a landslide with regard to temporary jobs.
If you’re not working, and the only reason you have for not accepting a temporary job offer is because it’s classified as a temporary job, you maybe letting a golden opportunity pass you by. What makes something a “hidden gem”? When you first look at it, nothing great seems to stand out on the surface. You’ve got to do some due diligence and peel away the layers to uncover the gem. Who doesn’t want the perfect job opportunity gift-wrapped for us? But that’s not always reality. Take my mom’s advice; don’t let a hidden gem slip through your fingers.
Song Woo, an employment and career management expert, is the President and CEO of Lighthouse Management Group.