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More Temporary Jobs and Contract Positions Coming in 2011

When times get tough, temporary jobs are the first to go. And when times get better, temporary jobs are the first to reappear. So it’s good to hear that the pace of growth in the temporary staffing agency industry in the fall of 2010 was the fastest recorded since the industry began keeping statistics back in the mid-1940s.    

On a year-to-year basis, 19.5 percent more temporary workers were employed in September 2010 compared with the same month last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Companies create temporary jobs to staff up without making a long-term commitment a practice that appeals when the economy is uncertain and healthcare requirements are changing, says Brendan Courtney, president of recruiting and staffing agency The Mergis Group, a division of SFN Group in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The trend toward temporary jobs was going strong in the final quarters of 2010, and that bodes well for 2011, says Rachel Russell, marketing director for TEKsystems, a Hanover, Maryland, staffing agency specializing in IT contracting. “Shareholders aren’t smiling on permanent hiring just yet,” she says. “They want to see things go well consistently before you bring on staff.”

A Permanent Shift to Temp Jobs

The number of temporary jobs has been climbing steadily for the past year — a trend Melanie Holmes, vice president of staffing agency Manpower, expects to continue into 2011.

It’s not just a recovering economy that’s leading to growth in the number of temporary jobs, she says. “The nature of work is changing,” she says. “Because of technology, we’re able to work anywhere, at any time, and not just from home or from Starbucks, but from India. That’s changed the way some employers look for employees. They recognize they’re always going to want to have a contingent workforce and to staff up or down to meet their needs.”

On the other side of the recession, temporary jobs and contract jobs will become more the norm, Courtney predicts. “A lot of people who would normally only want to work in a permanent, full-time position are going to have to look at contract and temporary positions because that’s going to become a bigger part of how companies hire and staff,” he says.

The move toward temporary jobs is pronounced in finance and accounting,  says Jodi Chavez, a senior vice president at Ajilon Professional Staffing, a staffing agency division of the Adecco Group in Melville, New York.

“We’ve seen an increase in companies that have never used temporary services before using them now,” Chavez says. “Across the county, we’ve probably seen a 17 percent to 20 percent increase in new customers in education, nonprofits, healthcare, manufacturing and financial services. And 90 percent of the clients we work with are telling us they plan to increase hiring in the first or second quarter of 2011.”

Who’s Got Temp Jobs?

Who’s hiring temp workers? Historically, temp hiring follows a certain path after recessions: Light industrial jobs come out first, then clerical and administrative, followed by professional jobs, Courtney says. “Right now it’s disproportionately light industrial and clerical, and on the professional side, IT, engineering and accounting have begun to pick up,” he says.

Holiday retail hiring is booming, rising 25 percent year-over-year even after seasonal adjustments are made, Chavez says.

Healthcare companies are turning to temps to help them comply with international diagnostic coding mandates. “All healthcare companies are looking for the same IT project managers to get the job done,” Russell says.

In IT, the skill sets in most demand in the coming year will be project managers; business analysts; enterprise, networking and Java architects; as well as security, data warehousing and business intelligence, Russell predicts.

“Technology today is seen as a strategic function, so even though it’s a tough economy, we’re seeing the rate of employment going up in IT,” she says. “IT includes a lot of project-based work, so that bodes well for the temp sector.”

How to Find a Temp Job

If you’re seeking a temporary job or contract work:

  • Reskill yourself and continue learning so you stay on the cutting edge of your industry.
  • Wrap your head around the fact that the temporary job and contract labor markets are growing faster than the full-time, permanent labor market, so a full-on job search should include looking for a temporary job and project work.
  • The stigma attached to having a temporary job is diminishing. Better to be a temp or contract worker than unemployed.
  • Seek out project-based assignments that put your skill set to work in a new industry.
  • If you use a temporary agency, pick one that specializes in your industry. It’s more likely to find you work with companies that value your industry knowledge.

Those 600,000 Holiday Jobs: 40 Percent Could Become Permanent

Of the 600,000 hired for the holiday season, about 40 percent could receive permanent offers from employers, reports ABC News. That’s what a recent survey by CareerBuilder.com found.

Beulah Hargrove at J.C. Penney’s store in Manhattan has been presented with such an offer. The crowds flooding the stores and shopping online during Black Friday weekend signal that Hargrove won’t be atypical in having temporary work turn into the permanent kind.
There’s more. Employers aren’t holding it against job applicants that they are supposedly ‘overqualified.’ In fact, employers see this unusual background for retail jobs or online work as a plus.
No, it’s not too late to apply. The demand is still there. Roam shopping centers for signs saying ‘hiring’ on store windows, or better yet, just go into the stores and ask to speak to the manager. Pitch yourself, handing over your resume. Also check online job boards as well as the companies’ websites. You may be back to work sooner than you expected.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans have taken on temporary jobs this holiday season, as employers gain confidence in the signs of stronger consumer demand. And for some of the workers, the temporary positions are turning into the one thing they want most this Christmas:
“Retailers are feeling pretty confident right now,” said Marshall Cohen, chief retail analyst with the NPD Group. “They’ve got their swagger going.”
Watch “World News With Diane Sawyer” weeknights on ABC.
All told, U.S. companies will hire an estimated 600,000 temporary workers this holiday season, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. That’s more workers added to the holiday payrolls than in the past three years.
Demand is so high for extra help that Amazon.com, the world’s largest online retail, has already hired 15,000 temporary workers. It’s so many extra employees that the company has even started camps in places such as Kentucky where employees can park their RVs to sleep between 10-hour shifts. They’ll work until Christmas Eve for $10 an hour.
Toys R Us is also jumping on the trend, hiring 45,000 temporary employees, a 30 percent increase from last year. UPS is hiring 50,000 extra workers.

Applicant Pool for Holiday Jobs Overqualified

The people who apply for the jobs are often overqualified, but store managers are delighted to have them.
“They’re a lot more dependable, better quality, absolutely,” said Joe Cardamone, a store manager at a J.C. Penney’s in Manhattan. “They want to work and they need to work, so it’s to our advantage to have that kind of quality out there right now.”

More Seasonal Temp Jobs May Become Permanent

There are also some indications that more of the temporary positions could become permanent. Forty percent of employers with seasonal workers this fall plan on offering permanent jobs, up from last year, according to a survey by CareerBuilder.
“[Retailers] have been profitable almost every month throughout the year,”analyst Cohen said. “That means they’re going to look to continue to ride that wave and keep some of these temporary employees that are showing some good promise and keep them on for a longer period of time.”

More Temporary Jobs Become Permanent

That’s the case for Beulah Hargrove. She accepted a holiday job at a New York J.C. Penney’s store and has already been asked to stay on after Christmas Eve.
“I’ll be working here after the holidays, which I’m very proud of,” she said. “It’s really hard to get a job now.”

By Jane Genova

Holiday Hot Jobs: 6 Companies Hiring 500,000+ in 2010

If you’re still thinking about scoring a holiday job, go for it. The holiday forecast from recruiting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas is that some retailers may play it safe and delay some of their hiring until late in the season. They also forecast that holiday hiring will be better this year than last year, when more than 500,000 workers found seasonal work.
With the economy picking up, a seasonal job can get your foot in the door for permanent work. Retailers say they definitely keep an eye out for outstanding seasonal hires to keep on after the holidays.
Here’s a look at some of the companies with the biggest hiring plans for holiday 2010, and the type of workers they’re hiring:
1. Macy’s (hiring 65,000)
The department-store giant is hiring an army of seasonal in-store sales associates ($9.76), as well as call-center customer-service representatives ($13.03) and warehouse workers ($12.86) for its distribution centers and Macys.com’s product warehouses.

2. UPS (hiring 50,000)
All those packages we order online have to get delivered, and UPS gears up to handle the volume spike, says corporate workforce planning manager Matthew Lavery. The most common job they hire for is driver’s helper, which requires heavy lifting. UPS also hires drivers ($14.13) and package handlers at their distribution centers. As with all the warehouse jobs mentioned here, warehouse workers for UPS need to be able to lift 75 pounds. No matter where you live, you can probably find a package center near you – Big Brown has more than 1,000 locations nationwide.
“We can train people,” says Lavery. “You need a desire to be successful, to come to work every day – basic skills. We train you on the handheld computer we use for deliveries.”

3. Toys “R” Us (hiring 45,000)
The toy retailer is doubling its work force, in part because it’s opening 600 pop-up ministores inside shopping malls this holiday season. Spokeswoman Linda DeNotaris says sales associates should be “hard-working, reliable individuals who enjoy working as part of a team and want to help us achieve our goal of providing memorable store experiences.” She adds, “Many of our seasonal employees remain with us after the holiday season has come and gone.”

4. Best Buy (hiring 29,000)
If you love tech gadgets, Best Buy could be a fun place to work this holiday season. Cleveland-based portable electronics supervisor Elisha Unger says roles include cashiers ($8.48) and three categories of customer-service specialists – in home theater, portable electronics, and “counter intelligence agent,” better known as the Geek Squad’s computer-repair staff. Repair workers usually have prior experience in computer repair, and take an evaluation test 90 days into their employment, Unger notes.

5. Amazon.com (hiring 10,000+)
With Amazon, geography is key, as their jobs are found only where the online retailer has product warehouses – that’s Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. Aside from seasonal warehouse work, which is mostly done hiring now, Amazon spokeswoman Michele Glisson says the ecommerce giant is currently making permanent hires for customer service managers ($16.10) and customer service operations managers at customer service centers in Kennewick, Wash.; Huntington, W.V., and Grand Forks, N.D.

6. Nordstrom (doesn’t disclose hiring figure)
The department-store chain is known for its customer service, and pays slightly above industry averages for top-flight sales associates. While they aren’t saying how many hires they’re making, spokesman Colin Johnson says hiring is up this year compared with last holiday time. The company gets a jump on the competition by starting to hire its seasonal sales associates back in September for its half-yearly sale. Prior experience isn’t as important as enthusiasm for making customers happy.

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