gig work

How to Use Gig Work to Win in the Hidden Job Market

Are you part of the collective groan that rolls across the land every time someone mentions the word networking as the key to a successful job search?

If so, gig work might be the perfect alternative for you.

Gig Work — the New Networking

If you’re unemployed and don’t like to network, don’t worry, you can access the hidden employment market via part-time jobs and temporary positions. You know — gig work.

Before you shake your head, know that Jobvite’s most recent Recruiter Nation survey reports that 35% of employers increased the number of jobs they outsourced to freelancers and gig workers in 2021. And 54% said they plan to increase their use of this talent channel in 2022.

Potential Downside of Temporary & Consulting Work

Let’s get the downside out of the way first. If you take several temporary gigs and string them together on your resume, you might look like an unemployable job hopper.

However, I’ve got you covered. You can see how to avoid that on the first job shown on this sample resume.

The Upside of Gig Work

Taking a temporary job with a company you want to work for is way better than interviewing.

Gigs turn into auditions that let you demonstrate your abilities and personality to managers, co-workers, and sources of referrals within the company.

When you do good work, short-term, freelance jobs often turn into offers for long-term, permanent employment.

Beyond that, in many cases, gig work lets you enjoy flexible hours and more life-work balance than you find in regular jobs. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Strategy for Turning Gig Work Into Job Offers

So, how do you make this work for you?

  1. Look for temporary gigs in organizations where you want to work.
  2. Once you’re inside, get to know people and climb the learning curve quickly.
  3. Find out what constitutes “a good job” and do it.
  4. Evaluate the company while you work there.
  5. When you know you like the company, share your interest in a “real job.”
  6. Finally, ask your contacts how to find openings and to recommend you.
Find Jobs Before They’re Posted

Use your entree as an independent contractor to make yourself an attractive candidate for openings. Whether covering for an absence or working on a specific project, perform.

If you do, when the company needs to hire, there’s a good chance they will choose you without even publicizing the job.

Dubious? I have received 4 job offers via this route.

One of my resume clients is in the process of negotiating an offer from a consulting engagement.

As you can see, when you take a temporary or consulting assignment with a targeted employer, you move yourself to the front of the line in the hidden job market — and you don’t have to network!

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© 2010 – 2022, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

Comments 13

  1. Thank you for your compliment Ed.

    So true, there are many stories of volunteers converting to employees at nonprofit organizations. This can be a strategic way into a targeted nonprofit organization — or even a for profit organization if handled carefully.

    Plus, volunteering is a great way to test the waters if you’re thinking about moving your career from business world to nonprofit world.

  2. As always, good content, and rather flexible advice that might also fit for volunteers at non-profits.

  3. How about thinking of a contract or part-time job as a “test drive” for both the employer and the prospective full time employee. Unless a company has a policy not to make full time offers to temporary staff, this is a win for everyone. A win for experience, a win to get to know each other and reduce risk, a win when a worker is paid for their contributions and a win for an employer who gets a job done. add to the list the flexibility that both parties have without a long term commitment and the opportunity for everyone to add to their networking contacts which may be valuable the future as career insurance ( future recommendations, referrals to job leads, mentors, resources, etc.)

  4. I agree Debra. In many cases, it can be the best way to take a new job for all of the reasons that you so aptly describe. Thanks for chiming in!

  5. Great discussion! I have working in the temporary staffing industry for over 20 years and have seen hundreds of people secure full-time employment with wonderful companies as a result of having been placed there on a temporary assignment. I see no downside to multiple positions. Should you have a number of temporary assignments, you would simply list the temporary service as your employer for the time period in question, and then list the job titles, responsibilities and accomplishments under that employer. I encourage everyone who is looking for a job to consider temporary employment as one avenue in the pursuit of enhancing their career.

  6. Cindy,

    That is a wonderful idea. Don’t list every temp assignment you went out on. Instead, list the temp agency as your employer. That would clean up a number of resumes that I have seen very nicely.

    Thank you,


  7. Good points Keith. People have to look at what’s “normal” in their field and industry.


  8. This statement might be true for a lot of occupations:
    If you take several temporary jobs, and string them together on your resume, you will start to look unemployable.

    But I disagree with this when it comes to technical computer support. Most companies look upon this group as a cost center with no ROI. Consequently, companies will staff to augment current staffing to support a project. It is easier to contain an IT budget by eliminating a contract then eliminating an employee. Secondly, few companies invest in their technical staff to learn the newest technology and find it cheaper to contract these positions out to people who have learned it on their own dime.

    Just my 2 cents

  9. Donna,

    Excellent points in your article. While the lagging job market has really made it a challenge for job seekers to find full-time employment, it has also opened up many opportunities for job seekers to explore different career paths through temporary and contract work. In any economic climate, though, your advice still stands true. Job seekers should be judicious about where they land their next gig; they will serve their careers best if they go for what they really want to do (and whom they really want to work for)!

  10. Hi Joe,

    You make good points. Work takes up so much of our lives. It’s an incredible blessing when we can do what we want to do with people we enjoy!


  11. Many short term contracting jobs can turn longer too. Many long term jobs may not exist any more either. Many target companies may no longer be your target once you get on the inside. Many companies also don’t offer direct postions because then the headcount counts against them. Many temps can’t pursue a direct option because it is against their contractual policy.

    Granted, it will differ from industry to industry, but I disagree with the advice on listing your temp agency as your employer, unless you worked for Temp Agency X on multiple gigs over many years. Nobody cares that you worked for Temp Agency X, but they do care if you worked for say, Boeing.

    Aidan, Some people really do work for temp agencies as their “job” — sometimes for years. I have a friend in WDC who works for a firm that outsources CPAs. She goes from project to project but her employer is the outsourcing firm. She can take her experience now, list the clients she has served as an employee of the outsourcing firm, and talk about accomplishments along the lines of her proven ability to easily learn new cultures, new systems, new processes, etc. BTW, I know she’s been offered at least one CFO job as a result of this work but she likes the flexibility she gets from the outsourcing arrangement. Donna

  12. Working with a lot of contractors/temps in the last few years, here’s a few things I’ve noticed from both the employer point of view and the employee point of view.

    1. Employers, if you’re thinking about hiring your temp, check the contract you’ve signed with the employment agency for conversion fees when bringing temps on full-time. Some agencies will charge you x amount to convert. Others will waive the conversion fee as long as you keep the temp around for so many months. The terms of conversion can have a lot to do with whether the potential employer will be willing or able to bring the temp on later.

    2. Temps. if you’re thinking you’ll want to get hired, you should also check the conversion terms and whether conversion is a possibility. In some instances, conversion fees may be a detriment to getting hired. If it’s a temp position, ask why it’s a temp position.

    One company I know of was hiring temps to fill out roles before a customer contract expired. Their reasoning? It will be easier to get rid of the temp when the contract runs out. See if there’s a possibility you’ll be hired in that position.

    There are also companies who use temps because they can’t hire full-timers.

    Remember: There’s a difference between temping for the right-now company versus temping for the right company.

    3. Temps. I’ve seen plenty of resumes come past my desk where the temp agency is listed as the employer and each assignment is listed under the temp agency. It does look a little better than showing each employer. It’s a valid way to do things.

    4. Temps. Generally, you’ll be better off if you become an employee of the temp agency that gets you the job, rather than contracting individually. The temp agency will charge the hiring company more per hour than you’ll see in your paycheck. But if you’re an employee of the temp agency, you’ll pay less tax than if you hire yourself out to a company. and some agencies (not many but some) provide medical for their temps, which is worth more in the US than almost anything else. Medical insurance is the killer for US temps. If you don’t have it, you have a major issue.

    5. Temps. Please be professional when you leave. I’ve seen several temps get a full-time job and give one-day or less notice. Give your temp employer at least a few days to recover from losing a critical player. Keep in mind that you may need a good reference later on and you just won’t get it if you leave your temp employer holding the bag.

    Just a few thoughts on the wonderful world of being a temp and hiring temps.

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