Raising cash in a hurry #13: Give in to temping temptation


Update May 2009: Conventional wisdom says that employment lags behind in a economic recovery, as companies wait to make sure the upswing has legs before hiring. Temp agencies may be called on to staff the early days of the recovery, so give them a try. A hard-working temp frequently turns into a perm.

After my wife was hired by a legal temp firm, she told her new bosses that she'd need two weeks to settle things up at her old job. When they asked her if she could suggest a temporary replacement for herself, she gave them my name. This is why, for two weeks in December, I became my wife. In the process, I discovered the wild and wonderful world of temping.

I only temped for a few months, but I enjoyed it immensely. Although I've held quite a few full-time jobs, my longest-term job was in teaching, and years of dealing with controversies and political correctness debates had left me almost permanently paranoid. By the time I left the teaching biz (voluntarily, I might add!), I was in an almost constant state of fear and self-justification.

Temping was the absolute opposite. At each of the jobs that I did, I was constantly aware that, should I wish, I could leave at a moment's notice. My employers needed me far more than I needed them and, although I never left a job early, I always chose the date of my departure.

Temping is good for the soul. As a temp, you quickly become aware of just how few intelligent, hard-working people there are out there. If you show up to work on time, take reasonably short lunch breaks, don't leave too early, and demonstrate even the slightest amount of energy and initiative, chances are that your employers will view you as the second coming of the messiah. In many cases, they will even offer you permanent employment; personally, I had this experience at two of my temp jobs. Also, temp jobs pay really well, although most temp companies don't provide benefits.