It's Time to Re-Energize Your Job-Search Efforts

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By Jeremy Greenfield and Kyle Stock

Strong job-growth numbers in February and a slight dip in unemployment should encourage people to restart the job search -- especially in the temporary job market. The unemployment rate fell to 8.9 percent, as the private sector added 222,000 jobs, according to today's report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"Today you heard a big sigh of relief in a lot of places: on Wall Street, in the Obama administration and from people who are out of work," said John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based outplacement firm. "If you let your job search slip a little, it's time to re-energize your efforts."



The manufacturing and construction industries posted strong gains, a collective 66,000 new jobs. Meanwhile, government jobs droppped by 30,000 as state and local governments cut payrolls to mitigate budget woes.

Promising signs

William Rodgers III, a professor at Rutgers University and former chief economist of the Labor Department, was encouraged by the data.

"It's a signal that the acceleration we're seeing in other parts of the economy is starting to shift over to the job market," he said. "We're starting to get some momentum."

Temporary jobs, in particular, are a good place to gain a toehold in the work force, experts said. Of the 222,000 private sector jobs added in February, 15,500 were temporary, according to Jodi Chavez, senior vice president for Accounting Principles, a division of Adecco, a human resources firm.

When the economy starts to bounce back, temporary staffing firms are among the first to hire, said Chavez. Many companies are still "a little gun-shy" to sign on full-time employees, she added.

A temporary post can be "almost like a job interview," said Andrew Steinerman, an analyst who covers the temporary staffing industry for JPMorgan. "Once you're on assignment, you have a chance to prove yourself for a full time job. It's a good way to get your foot in the door."

Temporary staffing has been increasing since the recession ended. Some observers are predicting that in the next few years temp workers will be a larger part of the labor force than ever before.

Chavez advises that those who want to try temporary staffing should find a temporary staffing firm that specializes in their field.

"If you're an IT worker, go to an IT temporary staffing firm. If you're in manufacturing, go to a manufacturing temporary staffing firm," she said.

No longer a stigma

Those who are hesitant to try temporary staffing because of the stigma associated should know that times have changed and such work is now the new norm, said Chavez.

Increasingly, employers are bringing in workers to see if they're a good fit and after several months, if they work out, temporary employees are being converted to full-time employees.

"Companies are increasingly looking to hire this way, a good opportunity for someone to get some experience and get some cash in the pocket," said Steinerman.

There should be other job opportunities for workers outside of temporary staffing because of the rejuvenated labor economy, said Challenger. People looking for work should check in with previous employers and with companies they have interviewed with in the past year or two. If they weren't hiring last year, they may be hiring now. "Let them know that you're very interested in working with them and you'd like to come back and see them," he said.

Companies that eliminated positions during the recession are starting to re-hire for those same positions, said Chavez. "This is the time to start to explore this opportunity," she said. "Today's numbers tell us there's some movement in the job market."

Next:Unemployment Dips to 8.9 Percent, 192K Jobs Added


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