Today, as I was working with an insurance agent to add coverage to my policy, the woman with whom I was speaking shared that she had heard that the company where I work is a great company.
During the course of our conversation, she also mentioned that she had visited the company’s website and had not seen any job openings posted and expressed an interest in learning about potential openings. Some on the spot career networking was happening!
GETTING AND UNEXPECTED CAREER OPENING
These encounters with professionals, interested in the company where I work, have really struck a cord in my mind, because my working at this company was an unexpected career opening. Next month, marks my one year anniversary with this company. However, I was only expected to work here for two weeks!
While making not so steady income from freelance work over the past several years and searching for full-time work in areas where I have professional interest, I have also taken assignments from various temporary agencies to supplement my income. This time last year, I had been offered a full-time position with a non-profit agency and was planning to begin that position in November. So, when I received the call for my current assignment, which has lasted for almost a year now, I was not interested.
In fact, I advised my agency contact to send someone else for the job. Well, the agency could not find someone else and called me back. Because I liked the young woman whom I had been working with at the agency, I agreed to take the assignment for a week or two before my full-time position started (I have a soft spot for young professionals just starting out in their careers and who have that zeal to do their best!).
However, when November arrived last year, the position that I had been waiting to start evaporated into thin air. There was no funding to move forward with the position. Fortunately, the division where I was working needed additional tasks completed at the end of the year and I was apparently the right professional to do them. As the company and the group got to know me and my work and I got to know them, we seemed to create a very good working relationship. As a result, I was asked to extend my assignment and agreed.
EMBRACING THE CAREER PORTFOLIO PATH
Interestingly, I knew a woman, during the early years of my professional life, who had spent most of her career on temporary assignments. In my early twenties, fresh out of college, I could not understand how she tolerated the uncertainty of not knowing from where her next paycheck would come!
Fast forward almost 10 years later, outsourcing and the numbers of workers with temporary agencies have grown immensely. In retrospect, that early serial temp professional, who had embraced the “portfolio career” based lifestyle, may have simply been a pioneer ahead of her time! Now, I also appreciate the distinct virtues of temporary work assignments including flexibility, exposure to different work environments, opportunities to develop and use different skill sets, and being outside of office politics, etc. Of course, there are many drawbacks to the temp professional life.
However, the ultimate potential benefit of taking a temporary assignment is an unexpected career opening, like I have experienced. This extended assignment has exposed me to an industry with which I had a very vague awareness and to a type of work that I could not have even described before this opportunity. I have no guarantees or firm ideas about where this particular opening is taking me. However, I have already gained a great deal from the experience.
In a parallel fashion, one of my oldest friends also spent a year on a temporary assignment. Through this assignment, she gained employment with a very well known and prominent entertainment company. It seems as though many well-established companies are using temporary work arrangements as a way to access new talent and to conduct a trial working relationship, in a manner that must be more cost effective on some balance sheet.
A couple of months ago, my friend was offered a full-time position and has now transitioned out of that temporary assignment to her “dream job” within that company. First hand and second hand accounts demonstrate how temporary assignments do have their perks and can be used as a strategic way to encourage some unexpected career openings, especially in today’s bizarre job market.