Temporary Jobs on the Rise Among College Graduates, But Is This Good or Bad?

Posted By Terri Williams on June 6, 2016 at 12:07 pm
Temporary Jobs on the Rise Among College Graduates, But Is This Good or Bad?

According to a new study, close to 3 million people work in temporary jobs and the number of temporary employees is projected to continue growing. Temporary workers may be contract or freelance workers, or they may be intermittent or seasonal workers.

College graduates who like the idea of working on a temporary basis might be interested in a new report by CareerBuilder and Emsi, which recently analyzed data from over 100 national and state sources to compile a list of the fastest-growing temporary jobs.

Below are the temporary jobs (usually requiring a bachelor’s degree) that have at least 10,000 openings, and are expected to increase in openings by 2018:

Occupation Temporary jobs 2016 Temporary jobs 2018 Median wage per hour
Administrative assistants (excluding legal, medical, executive)* 69,627 73,931 $16.22
Human resources specialists 67,956 73,094 $28.02
Registered Nurses 42,260 44,885 $33.28
Computer User Support Specialists* 24,218 25,664 $23.27
Software Developers, Applications 14,731 15,624 $46.72


*As a result of upcredentialing, many employers now expect candidates to have a bachelor’s degree for occupations that previously did not require postsecondary credentials. Some of these positions include executive secretaries and executive assistants, and computer user support specialists.

But should this increase in transitory labor be applauded or is it a sign of an unstable labor market? GoodCall asked three experts to weigh in on this topic.

Advantages of temporary and contract work

According to Nichole Wesson, a Los Angeles-based career coach and consultant, temporary and contract positions provide a unique opportunity for both workers and companies.

“For businesses, temporary and contract workers provide an excellent influx of experience and knowledge for projects that have to be completed by specific dates,” says Wesson.

And the labor costs are much lower, since Wesson says companies don’t have to provide compensation and benefits to these workers. She tells GoodCall, “In addition, budget approvals and time-to-fill can be shorter for temporary than permanent positions.”

Peg Newman, founder and managing partner of Sanford Rose Associates Executive Search in Salt Lake City, says there are even more benefits to hiring temporary workers. “The company has access to a broader range of skills than ever before for projects, and they’re paying for the project – not for a staff member.”

For temporary workers, undoubtedly, the greatest benefit is flexibility. Newman says that these employees have time to tend to personal and family situations. “And add to that the number of millennial candidates interested in experience for the sake of experience – and are more interested in having access to a variety of employers through an agency than being attached to one industry or employer.”

In addition, workers can build their resumes through temp jobs. According to Wesson, “A temp or contract position is a great way for employees to increase their skills in a specific area. As Newman explains, “These workers have access to training or an internship-style of work without going through an onerous internship process.”

And as a result of their temp work, employees can increase their credibility. “When interviewing for full-time permanent positions, companies pay close attention to the businesses and brands a contract employee has worked for,” says Wesson.

Wesson says both companies and employees have the chance to “test drive” each other. “During a temporary employee’s contract, the business has the opportunity to determine if the employee is not only experienced, but also if they are a good fit culturally for the company.” At the same time, Wesson says a temporary employee gets to observe the company’s culture, management style, and other aspects to determine if they would want to work there on a permanent basis.

Travel nurses provide a good example of the benefits of temporary workers. Cherlyn Shultz-Ruth, dean of allied health and nursing at Mountain View College in Dallas, tells GoodCall that many hospitals have a long history of using temporary nurses – known as travel nurses – to fill short-term nursing shortages, step in when other nurses are absent because of health or family issues, or to provide additional staffing during busy periods.

“Another advantage is that travel nurses are well trained in specialized areas such as neurology, oncology, neonatology, dialysis, telemetry, psychiatry, pediatrics, and labor and delivery,” says Shultz-Ruth. “This training allows these nurses to work in a majority of the departments in the hospitals – and they do not require long-term orientation and training when they start their new assignments.”

Independent contractors and freelancer disadvantages

While the benefits of temporary workers are many, there is a downside. According to Wesson, “Because the employee is temp/contract, the business is not necessarily loyal to the employee – and the same applies to the company, as the employee is not invested in the long-term growth of the company, and therefore, their focus is their next opportunity.”

In fact, Newman tells GoodCall that a temporary employee may actually jump ship in the middle of a project to pursue other opportunities. And while this type of action may not demonstrate a strong work ethic, there are several factors that could contribute to this mindset.

Newman says that temporary workers usually have very little onboarding, and they may not feel like a part of the staff or team. In addition, they’re probably not receiving any benefits, and they realize that the role is impermanent, so they may be making decisions in their own best interest.

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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