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  1. Business

Choose temp work with care for career advancement

The number of workers employed through temporary help agencies is at all-time highs. Each week about 3 million people — 2 percent of the workforce — cycle through staffing companies.

If you're looking for a job, you should consider being one of them. Temp jobs are a main road to employment. Employers increasingly try out temp workers before offering "permanent" positions.

Temp jobs can be good for job hunters, too. You get a foot in the door for hiring consideration, and you gain lines on your resume instead of blanks. That said, there can be drawbacks to temp work. You're wise to choose agencies and job placements carefully.

Start by researching and signing up with staffing companies that specialize in your industry or profession. Temp placements range from entry-level jobs up to the chief executive office. Don't waste time and effort with agencies that aren't a good match for you.

Research the pay rate to know the market-rate range for the job you're pursuing. A recent report by the National Employment Law Project said temp workers often are paid less than the typical hourly rate. Know what's acceptable to you.

That same report also challenged the lack of safety training for temp workers, especially in warehousing and manufacturing. There's a high incidence of injury among temp workers on their first day on the job, compared with employees who have more training or experience. What safety tips do you need to know?

Use online search engines or personal contacts to investigate if "temp to hire" advertising is likely to come true. Reports abound of employers that keep cycling a slew of temps through the job rather than converting them to permanent positions.

Temp work can be a choice or reluctant stopgap. This is a great time of year to sign up for seasonal jobs. Be smart about your choices, and don't automatically discount temping.

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