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Becoming an HR temp: One step back to take a step forward?

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in Hiring,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Temping isn’t just for rookies anymore. Demand for qualified HR temporary staff is way up and is gaining among all HR pros—both novice and experienced—who are using temp employment to further their careers at all levels.

What’s happening? Demand for temp labor will grow three times as fast as openings in the permanent work force over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The HR specialties with the greatest demand are benefits, recruiting, compensation, information systems and general HR. The fewest temp positions are in training. Companies typically hire outside vendors for that specialty.

The temping strategy can have appeal at all levels: New grads can use it to help get on a track to a full-time position. Mid-level career HR professionals can work as temps while they search for a position in a new location or in a new industry. Even high-level HR executives can round out skills and make new contacts.

Some tips to navigate the temp-HR landscape:

  • Select a staffing firm that specializes in HR. Check with your local chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) for suggestions at Or, search the member directory of the American Staffing Association,
  • Pay attention to timing. Recognize that temp or consultancy staffing employment needs are lowest in January and grow throughout the year. Some specialized hiring can be spurred by corporate quarterly timelines, too. Mergers, acquisitions, major sales and new product expansions also can lead to temp HR assignments as staffing-management issues ramp up. Other employer deadlines and annual programs—such as open-enrollment season—also can spur contingent HR help.
  • Recognize the plusses and minuses. Taking a position in an HR department gets your foot in the door, gives you valuable HR contacts, lets you explore an HR niche, nets you hands-on experience and gets you on the inside track for upcoming openings.

The downside: There are trade-offs in salary and benefits. And be prepared for downtime between assignments.

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