There are many reasons to consider creative staffing agencies. (We previously covered the pros and cons in a blog post last year.) As you may know, being a temp has a bad rap. It implies you are wet behind the ears, not ready for prime-time, not worthy of a real negotiated contract between equal partners. As copywriters and business owners, we value our autonomy and ability to negotiate top pay for years of hard-won expertise and entrepreneurial can-do spirit that any employer would love to access. Copywriters are high achievers; temping is for lazy wage slaves who can’t wait to clock out, right?
So, why do I work a temp job? Well, after having held this job a year, I have to say the experience has been positive overall, and not only because of the steady income. Here’s why:
- Quick pay and benefits. Being a contractor means you can negotiate a higher hourly rate, but often there is a lag time between invoicing and actually receiving the check. Depending on your clients, you can wait anywhere from 15 to 120 days (if not more). Temping gives you a weekly paycheck. And although the benefits aren’t as good as full-time employee benefits, they are reasonable especially if you have a family to support. Many temp agencies in Portland offer health, dental, vision, and long-term disability insurance; 401(k) plans; and ongoing professional development.
- Job bank. Most companies prefer to advertise and list open positions with temp agencies, jobs that often aren’t listed anywhere, else even though it costs them a lot. Companies find it’s worth paying for the convenience and no-strings-attached flexibility of getting a pool of vetted candidates. This flexibility goes both ways, too. If a new assignment comes along that’s better for you, you can ask your recruiter to switch.
- Yet another way to network. Temp jobs introduce you to companies and people you might have never known about otherwise. And they allow you to prove your skills to strangers who wouldn’t bother to read your email or return your calls.
- The benefits of collaboration. Although calling all the shots as your own boss can be great, it can also be a dead end creatively. I find collaborating with other writers, graphic designers, creative directors, marketing staff, and administrators to be valuable not only for inspiration and feedback, but also improve my ability to communicate ideas and work face to face with people from different backgrounds.
Freelancing while temping through a creative staffing agency can easily create more work than you’re comfortable with! You may find yourself trading the old feast-or-famine dilemma for a feast-or-feast more problem, which is not a bad problem to have. I often need to adjust, but I have found a 60-40 temp/freelance workload that gives me the best of both worlds: I have financial stability and opportunities to expand my skill set via temping, but I also have the freedom to continue building my business and pursue the projects that I want, not that I need.