Looking for work? Consider project work

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Professionals who are trying to land a job may want to pursue project work. According to specialized staffing service Robert Half International, companies that are unable to add full-time employees during periods of economic uncertainty often bring in professionals on a temporary basis, which can translate into opportunities for those who are looking to earn income, make new contacts and enhance their marketability during an extended job search.

"In the current environment, it can be challenging for businesses to predict their long-term staffing needs," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. "Using project or temporary professionals for high-priority initiatives allows companies to maintain productivity without committing to full-time hires until they are certain those positions are sustainable."

Messmer noted that while many people associate temporary work with the administrative profession, opportunities are available in a variety of specialized fields. "Companies need highly skilled professionals for a wide range of projects that require differing levels of industry expertise and experience," he said. "When looking for opportunities, it can be beneficial for job seekers to work with a staffing firm that specializes in their field."

Following are 10 of the most prevalent project roles in the current economy, according to Robert Half:

  • Credit and collections specialists - Companies are working with these professionals to help manage credit risk and collect from delinquent accounts. In particular, firms seek individuals who can identify ways to reduce inefficiencies and maximize cash flow.
  • Staff and senior accountants - In any economy, businesses need staff members who can perform core accounting tasks, such as maintaining the general ledger system and analyzing and preparing financial statements.
  • Mortgage specialists - Fueled by the government's recent Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), many firms within banking and financial services require skilled loan processors, loan servicing specialists and mortgage assistants to support the increased activity for loan modifications and refinancing.
  • Help desk and desktop support professionals - Businesses migrating from older operating systems, upgrading desktop systems and implementing a wider range of technologies are recruiting help desk and desktop support staff. These professionals are needed to answer questions and troubleshoot problems resulting from changes in IT products and services.
  • Developer/programmer analysts - Applications development professionals are being hired to write code, test and debug software applications, and analyze business application requirements. The most sought after expertise includes .NET, SharePoint, Java and PHP.
  • Web developers - Web developers are needed as companies expand their online presence and focus on Web 2.0 initiatives and interactive web functionality. The rise of social media also is contributing to growth in this area.
  • Bankruptcy/foreclosure attorneys - As the number of consumer and corporate bankruptcies and foreclosures continues to increase, many law firms are expanding these practices. Attorneys with more than five years of experience handling complex bankruptcy and foreclosure matters, including restructuring and litigation, are in demand.
  • Litigation paralegals - To manage an increasingly high volume of cases, law firms and corporations are forming specialized project teams to handle key aspects of trial preparation and discovery. Litigation paralegals are being sought on a project basis to assist with investigations and pleadings.
  • Customer service representatives - Businesses rely on these professionals to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction and loyalty, which are especially important in an uncertain economy. Firms also look to these individuals to sell additional products or services to existing customers.
  • Administrative healthcare positions - The healthcare industry continues to grow, and medical facilities seek administrative professionals with healthcare experience. Positions in demand include: medical file clerk/scanner, medical secretary, patient registration/admissions clerk and credentialing specialist.

According to Messmer, what starts as a project role may turn into a full-time position. "Businesses frequently draw from the ranks of their temporary staff when making new hires, since both parties have had the chance to evaluate whether the position is a fit."

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