Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Contingent Worker

Like most things in life, there are upsides and downsides. Deciding to spend time as a contingent worker (instead of actively pursuing a full-time, long-term job) is no different. Depending on your personal situation, there are great reasons to be a temp or contingent worker. There are also disadvantages to watch for. This post will look at the pros and cons of being a temp worker. A following post will look at the advantages and disadvantages of using temp labor from the employers’ perspective.

Contingent work can offer definite advantages to a job seeker. For example, let’s say you’re seeking the perfect full-time role and don’t want to settle for the next available job while you hold out for the dream position. You’re still going to need income while your search continues. Contingent work provides that income stream while your search for the “right” job continues.

At the same time, staying active as a contingent worker also helps keep gaps from forming on your employment history on your resume. Temporary jobs often have fixed time limits too which helps you plan your next move.

Another positive aspect of contingent work is that it can provide you with exposure to a new field you might be interested in. A temp role in a new industry allows you to “test drive” a new profession, a new employer or even a new role within a company. Contingent work has helped many to make successful career migrations while also helping to build experience needed to land the next job in one’s new field. In some cases, temp work leads to full-time offers within companies that offer a “temp-to-perm” program. So, if your temp job turns out to be a perfect fit for you, it can lead to that dream position you are looking for.

On the other hand, here are some downsides to consider. First, the meat and potatoes concerns. In general, temp labor is not paid top dollar for their work, though, in some cases, if your skills are in high demand, this may not be the case. It is also pretty common for contingent workers to receive lower levels of benefits than full time counterparts. Things like paid sick days, vacation time, retirement and others are not often extended to contingent workforce elements.

Job/income stability can also be a drawback. By definition, contingent work is temporary and may not provide sufficient stability to workers whose tenure may be only weeks to months long. For those seeking a longer-term contingent engagement, freelancing or contracting might be a better kind of contingent opportunity to pursue. It can also look bad to have too many temp jobs on your resume which can impact your ability to ultimately land the full-time job you may be seeking.

Another possible downside of contingent work is felt in your job satisfaction. It is not necessarily true of all temp roles at all companies, but oftentimes, temp workers say they feel marginalized and isolated by the full-time employees where they work. Temp labor can sometimes be viewed as disposable and this view may prevent the full-time staff from forming any workplace bonds with the contingents who they expect will be leaving soon. Others report that there is a lack of training and direction given to temps by busy supervisors.

Weigh the options carefully when deciding whether to embrace contingent work and make the decision that is best for you. Contingent work is neither inherently good or bad. Like anything else, it is what one makes of it.