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August 20, 2001
As Freelance Job Market Softens Many Turn To Temp Services For Work
By Sherril Steele-Carlin

With downsizing in full swing, employers and employees are all looking for alternative ways to make a living. Many freelancers who have seen their dot com clients disappear are discovering temporary work as a way to make ends meet, and still carve out time to freelance. In a 1999 interview on CourtTV, June Grasso said, "...on a typical day in America, more than one million jobs are filled by workers who come from temporary services." Today, that number continues to grow. In January 2001, the Mercury News reported "...temporary jobs in the state's [California] 15 most populous counties are projected to increase by 43 percent between 1995 and 2002."

What types of companies use temporary help? You might be surprised to learn that temporary work isn't the same as it was even a few years ago. It's not just warehouse workers and secretaries who are finding temporary work. Today, everyone from lawyers to engineers to nurses are finding lucrative temporary jobs. An article titled "Law Firms Turn to Freelancers for Temporary Needs" in the Tampa Bay Business Journal states, "One of the ways to level that field is to use contract lawyers to lighten the workload or round out areas of expertise, without increasing payroll obligations. Freelance attorneys are called many things: contract lawyers, per diem lawyers, legal temporaries, temp lawyers, consultants, or even virtual associates."

Freelancers can find many advantages to working for a temporary agency. First, they are in command of the hours and days they work. They can choose when they want to work, and when they don't, giving them the flexibility to juggle their temp work and freelancing career. Temping also allows a great variety of assignments, so you don't get bored. You can discover the types of jobs that you really enjoy, and those that you don't, and make a choice as to what kind of work you accept.

You don't have to worry about long term commitment. When your freelancing business get busy again, you can quit without any qualms. An article in the Net-Temps newsletter CrossRoads says, "You're not facing ANY commitment beyond what you agree to when you accept an assignment - whether it's three days, three weeks or three months."

Many temporary companies are also offering benefits, so you may be able to get health insurance, holiday and vacation pay, and still keep your freelancing clients! Many temporary agencies will also train you in skills that may need updating, and match you with employers who can use the skills where you're proficient. They screen the clients so you don't have to.

You'll make a lot of contacts, and they may end up turning into more assignments for you. The Quintessential Careers web site offers an article called "Temping Offers a Way to Build Your Resume -- and Much More." In the article, temp worker Jacquelyn Ormsbee says, "When you are temping you meet a lot of people outside your normal sphere of contact. Many companies do hire temps on a permanent basis but may be even better for referring you to other companies."

Some freelancers also temp as free agents, literally bypassing the temporary agencies, and contacting companies directly. Some free agents find they have better success finding jobs with this method, than relying on a temporary agency to find them for you.

Temp work may not be for everyone, but as more employers fill empty positions with freelancers or temporary help, the opportunities will continue to grow. Temping can get freelancers through those times when business isn't booming, and may also supply a steady income and benefits to supplement your freelancing career.

Sherril Steele-Carlin is a full-time freelance writer from Reno, Nevada. She's published numerous articles in print and online publications.

She's also the author of the new e-book "How to get a Life by Living and Working in a National Park."


"How to Break Into Casino Jobs."

Visit her web site at

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