Should You Accept Temp Work When Looking for Regular Employment?

If you’re unemployed and looking for a new role, it’s likely that you’ll be faced with the opportunity to accept a temporary job while you’re searching for a direct hire role. It can be a hard decision to make, especially when you’re not sure how long your search for a direct hire position may take.

Here are the pros and cons to think about when weighing your decision.


Keep your skills current. During an extended job search, this is an important benefit. Many employers begin to question whether an applicant’s skills are up-to-date when the applicant has been unemployed for several months.

Gain new skills. Having a variety of skills is nearly always a plus for candidates. Accepting employment at an interim company to augment your skills–especially when changing careers– is a very good reason to sacrifice some time from your job search.

Meet and network with people at the interim company. You never know if that new person you just met is the same person who will introduce you to your next manager. Working on a temporary basis expands your network and may lead to new opportunities. This is especially true if the company is in the same geographical area or industry that you are targeting for direct hire employment.

Show off your skills and potentially get hired by the “interim” company. This is a good way to prove your skills and value while getting an inside view of companies or industries that you are hoping to find a direct hire role in. Many companies use a temp-to-hire model in which they first hire candidates for direct hire roles as temporary workers. This gives the employer a chance to review the candidate’s suitability for the position.


Less time to network and meet with people who can help you in your job search. While it’s often said that looking for work is a full-time job, the reality is that very few people have the emotional stamina to look for work 40 hours a week or a large enough network that would require the same number of hours as a traditional work week.

The money you earn may be less than what you’d earn through unemployment. For those with unemployment income, take the time to do the math and calculate whether unemployment or the interim company would generate greater income. Keep in mind that your unemployment is put on hold while you’re working, so if your temporary role ends, you can pick up your unemployment income again.

You may have to make a long-term commitment and promise not to leave for another opportunity. Many people worry that making a commitment to a temporary role could mean they have to walk away from a direct hire role. Sometimes this is true, but generally I have found that they don’t conflict. C-level job seekers will often be in a job search for 6 – 12 months, while lower level candidates may find new jobs in half that time.

In fact, a long-term commitment might actually be a reason to accept a role at an interim company. Having finite employment, especially part-time employment, can be a morale booster for you and remove some of the desperation you feel when evaluating direct hire opportunities.


In my view, getting back to work, even if it’s temporary, is more of an advantage than a disadvantage. The key mitigating factor is to clearly communicate and manage expectations with the interim company, the companies at which you interview, and recruiters. Let’s look at each side.

Interim Company: Be clear on the timeframe you can commit to. If you commit to a project of 60 days, make sure it’s in writing that you won’t leave in less than 60 days and that the company hiring you is committed to keeping you for 60 days. That way both you and the interim company are making equal commitments. This is especially true if you expect to soon receive offers for direct hire roles.

It’s also good to include in writing what you and the interim company commit to if the project continues past the expected end point. For example, you might state that if the project continues longer than previously agreed AND you haven’t accepted a job with another company, you will commit to giving two-weeks notice before leaving the project.

Direct Hire Company: As you’re interviewing and getting closer to the offer stage for a direct hire role with a company, they will want to know how soon you can start. It’s important they know you’re working on an interim basis with another company and have committed to staying on board until a certain date. Be sure to emphasize the importance you place on honoring your commitments. This is a great opportunity to highlight your work ethic and see if the direct hire company shares your values. Any reputable company will appreciate your integrity and want you to fulfill your commitment.

Recruiters: If you’re working with recruiters for either role, keep them in the loop, too. They’ll appreciate your professionalism. They’ll also know not to contact you for roles that need to be filled immediately. As you get closer to the end of your temporary engagement, let recruiters know you want employment offers for those companies that plan to hire after your end date.

Deciding whether to accept an interim position while searching for a direct hire role is often easier than it initially sounds. Thoughtfully consider how the elements listed above apply to your situation. You’ll likely arrive at a sound decision quickly when you do.

 How Long Will My Job Search Take?


Julia is a Career Strategist and Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach based in the Bay Area. She helps career-focused professionals showcase their unique abilities and talents in order to amplify their presence in their chosen fields and when re-entering the job market. Julia uses her extensive leadership experience in executive management, business development, team building and recruiting to help her clients have the career they always wanted. Learn more about Julia at,, (@JuliaHolian) and


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