You've been trying to break into HR for awhile now, so a friend suggests you contact a temporary placement agency about an opportunity in an HR department. At first, this sounds like a great idea, but now you're having second thoughts. Will this move help or hurt your career? Before you decide, consider the advantages and disadvantages of temporary work in HR.
- Because most temporary positions are fairly low-level, you will have the opportunity to learn HR from the ground up. You will get a good sense of the basics, which will be invaluable as you build your career. And you'll gain valuable experience that you can cite when applying for permanent positions.
- You can begin to build your HR network. As you move from job to job, you will meet HR people along the way. Try to stay in touch with these people and network whenever possible. They are in the best position to hear about openings for someone with your skills. If you contact them on a regular basis, they'll be certain to think of you when there are openings in their departments.
- And here's the biggest advantage: Temping is a great way to try out different areas of HR without making a long-term commitment. Exposure to the various aspects of HR will help you narrow down what you truly want to do.
- It can be difficult to overcome the stigma associated with temping. You sit in the office answering phones and clutching your MBA, watching less-qualified people interview for HR positions. Regardless of your qualifications, your colleagues may come to view you as just a "temp." And if the company does hire you on a permanent basis, there will always be one or two people who remember you that way. It can be challenging to convince your coworkers you are a qualified professional.
- Placement agencies often charge a substantial fee if a client hires a temporary worker within a certain time period after initiating a contract. These fees can run as high as 30 percent of your salary. Needless to say, many companies would rather hire from the abundant pool of entry-level HR candidates than pay for the privilege of giving someone a position.
- And here's the biggest disadvantage: If you take these assignments, you may get lazy about your job search. It is very easy to get comfortable in your temporary environment, and it's very hard to spend hours after work searching job sites and polishing your resume. Avoid this trap by remaining constantly aware that this is a temporary situation, not a permanent solution to your quest for a satisfying HR career.
- Most positions are very clerical in nature. You may find you are not as challenged as you would like to be, and your work may suffer. If that happens and you are not working at your best, your temporary employer is unlikely to ask you to join its HR team permanently. So stay sharp and do your best, whether you're answering phones or proofreading policy manuals. Remember that this job is not forever -- that's why it's called temporary.
- Taking a position in an HR department will finally allow you to get your foot in the door. It's a chance to show your HR colleagues you have what it takes to be one of them. The staff will get to know you and your skills, and you will have the inside track on upcoming openings.
Learn more about human resources careers.