Opportunity And Risk: Should I Take This Temp Position?

I’ve always valued the insights of the Angry Retail Banker community. My ARBonauts (you guys) always have great things to say in the comments sections of all my articles.

I came to you all once looking for career advice and was overwhelmed by the responses. Stuff like that is part of the reason why I’ve been copying the Millennial Revolution blog by stealing their Friday Reader Cases, responding to emails from people seeking career advice from me.

Yesterday, a job opportunity has been offered to me by a recruiting agency who saw my resume online.

It’s not a job offer. Just an invitation to go through their interview process.

But I’m at an impasse as to whether I should go for it. On one hand, it offers some great opportunity to finally get out of retail banking and enter the AML world. But on the other hand, it’s a temp job that offers a huge step back from a lot of what I have at my current bank.

Opportunity and risk.

So I wanted to bounce the job perks and setbacks off of everyone and get a collective second opinion. Should I take this temp position?

[Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.com]
[Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.com]

There’s Always Pros And Cons

Of course, I need to talk a bit about the position before I can go forward, as well as my current situation.

I just recently made an announcement that I got my CAMS designation, which is the premier certification in the world of Anti-Money Laundering. However, while I’ve gotten a couple interviews, I’ve been shut down at every turn.

Just like I did before I got my CAMS in December, I’ve been throwing resumes out there left and right. And getting no response.

I think I’m more likely to hear back from a job I apply for if I turn out the lights in my bathroom, spin around three times, and shout the position title.

"EDD ANALYST! EDD ANALYST! EDD ANAL--OH GOD OH GOD!!!!" [Photo courtesy of the durrrrian.deviantart.com]
“EDD ANALYST! EDD ANALYST! EDD ANAL–OH GOD OH GOD!!!!” [Photo courtesy of thedurrrrian.deviantart.com]
I’ve actually been working with a recruiter from a major employment agency lately that’s been trying to place me in full time jobs that pay at least $60,000/year (which would be the ideal for me). But right now, all their attempts have been falling flat.

But this one called me out of the blue after finding my resume online (I had posted for positions on their website over the past few months) and talked to me about this position.

The pros of the position include:

  • From what I can see, the position is within my circle of competence. I can definitely be trained to do this position, which is an entry level position.
  • It pays $4/hour more than what I am currently getting.
  • While most temporary contract positions are as long as six months and sometimes as little as three weeks, this is a one year contract with the possibility of extension. In the AML world, it seems that a lot of entry level positions somehow require you to have at least a year’s prior work experience in the AML field (making the term “entry level” very misleading on their part), so this is pretty big for me. And banks seem to prefer temporary workers to fill their AML Departments rather than full time employees.
  • No customer contact. Even putting that to the side for a second, it seems like this position is more or less exactly what I’ve imagined an AML position to be.
  • 401(k) and medical/dental/vision plans.
  • Only 35 hours per week! I won’t actually be living in the office like I currently do at my bank (where I’m routinely there 10-11 hours per day).

The cons, however, include:

  • Temp position with possibility of extension. A 12 month contract is not permanent employment. I guess this is better than the 3-4 month positions I’ve been offered in the past, but can I really afford to be unemployed at any point now that I’m in debt?
  • With the position being only 35 hours per week, my base annual salary comes out to only $2,000 more than what it is now. And considering my meager overtime, commission, and bonuses, I might actually be making less money pre-tax at this new place than I am now! Yes, that is with significantly less hours worked, but the numbers are still the numbers. Unfortunately, my HOA fee doesn’t go down each month just because I’m working less hours.
  • They mention nothing about 401(k) employer matches. Now that doesn’t mean they don’t match, but they just didn’t mention anything.
  • While I can get medical, dental, and vision through the company (I think it’s with the same insurance company I have now), they don’t contribute at all. Premiums would be 100% my cost and taken directly from my paycheck (which is what I have now, except my employer also pays a portion of my premiums). For the most basic plans, we’re talking about $200/ bi-weekly paycheck.
  • No paid holidays. No paid vacations. No paid sick days. No pay unless I’m there working.
  • My commute will be anywhere from double to triple what it is now. I will be looking at about 90 minutes on the trains each way and will actually be crossing state lines. I know my shift would be seven hours per day, but I do not know my actual schedule (maybe a lot of these are questions I should have asked before furiously typing this post).

So that’s where I’m at now. I’m at an impasse because, well, honestly I see this as too much of an opportunity to pass up. At the same time though, the setbacks are immense and some of them would be immediately disqualifying on their own.

There’s opportunity and risk here. This is a chance to get into an AML position with a position that will still be there for the rest of the year and not disappear a couple months from now. It’s a chance I can’t pass up.

But at the same time, I’m giving up some of the best benefits I’ve ever had to work in a place where I might be taking home less than I am now. Might be taking home less, sure, but still a possibility. With a mortgage, can I really afford that?

Sure, I rarely get sick and call out or go to the doctor (though I really do need to make a doctor and dentist appointment). And yes, I have used CIT Bank to help build an emergency fund. But will an AML position paying me $60,000 and up really just magically appear because I spent a year at this place, spending three hours each day crossing state lines on the trains to get to and from work?

Well, we’re not really there yet. All that happened was that a recruiter reached out to me in order for me to go through the interview process. I may interview and get turned down, rendering all of this moot.

But I wanted to get everyone’s take on the options before me, as there is a great amount of opportunity and risk in front of me. Should I take this temp position?

Readers–What do YOU think!? Should I go forward with the interview process and take the position if offered? Or is this not worth my time and my current job? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!


  1. Elizabeth says

    Man, I was really with you there and all about you jumping all over this job until I got to your last bullet point: doubling/tripling your commute. UGH! That said, you’re also shaving two plus hours A DAY off your work schedule given your current 50-60 hour schedule. So I’m assuming that effectively, your total time spent commuting to and being at work will still drop considerably. That’s extra time for you to workout, socialize, sleep, and get more continuing education if you choose. Plus if you’re commuting via train, that is time you could spend blogging or reading/listening to podcasts or otherwise improving your life (so it’s not totally wasted time).

    Here’s the thing. You can *generally* always go get another retail banking job. Maybe even at your current employer if you leave on good terms. I’m a banker, and people leave and come back all the time and also bounce around banks all the time. Women stay home for a few years and come right back frequently. I don’t know where you live, but there’s usually plenty of turnover and opportunity in retail banking where I am, especially if you’re talking about branch services. There’s a branch on ever corner – and I’m not just speaking metaphorically.

    So I’m basing my opinion on all my assumptions/opinions above, but I say GO FOR IT SERIOUSLY!!!

    You’re never guaranteed employment forever when you take a new job. A year contract is about as good as it gets anyway; you just *feel* more secure when it’s not a “temp” position.

    Besides, your hourly rate of pay is going UP so even if your total comp goes down or stays the same, you’ll have a higher base pay figure (hourly speaking) from which to negotiate all future employment. Getting your base pay up essentially can compound your earnings over your lifetime.

    In conclusion – think of how often you might kick yourself for not taking this risk when you’re at work in your current job dealing with some horrible colleague/customer. Even if you make the leap and it doesn’t work out, I think you won’t regret doing it. You may regret not taking the chance while you have it though.

    Good luck!!!

    • ARB says


      My estimation is that my total time spent away from my home for work would be roughly the same. The lesser amount of hours worked would be offset by the number of hours commuting. What’s worse is that now I believe there would be two swipes of my city’s train card vs one. It’s a very expensive commute that would cost me about $10/day. I think I will need to look into an unlimited plan if I go this route.

      But your last two paragraphs are definitely on point. Having that higher base salary will allow me to negotiate higher earnings in the future. It’s one of the reasons why I negotiated a higher salary from my current employer when I got promoted. And I WILL be kicking myself for not going for it when I got a nasty/stupid obnoxious jack*** at my desk. But at the same time, though, I can’t let “mean customers” be a reason to take the first job handed to me. I don’t know what working in this new field would be like.

      Thank you for your comment!

      ARB–Angry Retail Banker

    • ARB says


      The commute will always be the commute. Companies never compensate their employees for that. The issue that I have with the commute is less the amount of time spent traveling (the AML jobs I’ve been trying to get all have commutes of an hour or more) and more the fact that there might be TWO swipes of my train card instead of one. That means a commute of $10+/day unless I get my city’s unlimited plan. This is not ideal for me.

      My biggest worry, actually, is the benefits. My premium would jump from $28/bi-weekly paycheck to about $187/bi-weekly paycheck because they don’t contribute at all. That comes out to over $4,100 paid out of pocket in health insurance that I wouldn’t have paid otherwise. If this new job were 40 hours a week, my salary would increase by $8,000/year. But it’s not, it only increases $2,000/year, but that’s because I’m working 35 hours per week. So whatever extra pay I would be getting would be eaten up by those higher premiums.

      I only see a doctor once a year. If I get sick.

      Thanks for your input.

      ARB–Angry Retail Banker

  2. Dan says

    I think the answer is to stick with your current job. It depends on a lot of things but for me; where I am in my career, the major negatives are 35 hours per week and no vacation or sick time or holidays. That means that taking any time off from work lowers your annual pay. Can you go for a year without a day off? Do you have to commute 5 days per week to work 35 hours? If it is a temp position, the 401k benefits are likely through your temp agency. So if you got a permanent job, you would likely have different 401k benefits.

    Many companies have a policy that no temp employment contracts can be longer than 1 year. It’s unlikely you would receive a renewed contract immediately upon completion of this contract. Usually, they make you wait 30 calendar days before renewing the contract.

    Based on my experience in corporate America (not retail banking), this job will never become permanent. They start it at 1 year off the bat because they have no intention of making it permanent. Three to six month contracts would be better because it would allow the company to evaluate the contractor and make a decision about offering permanent employment. Think about it. Would you enter into a one year contract before making a hiring decision? It pushes out the decision to the next calendar and fiscal year.

    Rule #1 of contractor work is that it should pay better than equivalent full-time work. You have none of the protections full-time workers have and in case of layoffs, the contractors are almost always the first to go. You typically receive inferior benefits as a temp. You need to be compensated for this hence the higher salary.

    The only exception is if you hate your job so much that you need a change at any expense. Frankly, you don’t seem to be at that point. You don’t like your job but you haven’t hit rock bottom. Before you send your career into a negative salary growth and negative job security trajectories, you need to hit bottom. You will find there are a lot of people who go from temp job to temp job and are unable to break the cycle.

    • ARB says


      I hear you on the potential to have some unemployment time after the contract is up. The recruiter said that the manager of this position usually extends contracts or makes permanent positions from the temp hires, but she also said that there is no guarantee of that. I can only take her at her word regarding how this manager does things. The possibility of brief unemployment is why I wouldn’t consider anything less the one year, and why I have a small emergency fund that could cover about 3-6 months necessities. I’d rather not dip into it (it is an “emergency” fund for a reason), but it’s there at least. I can afford a week or two unemployment, and I can always go back to retail banking for a short time if need be.

      Throughout the day, I managed to negotiate my salary up. I also took a look at how much my increased medical insurance costs would cost me per hour. My premiums would increase by about $2/hour, which is bad. But my salary as negotiated now would increase by $6/hour. However, all this is pre-tax, and unfortunately, that only affects my salary increase and not my increase in expenses. That cuts that arbitrage by about half, though it still puts me ahead.

      The higher base pay per hour might also help with future salary negotiations. I’ve noticed that potential employers are more willing to work with potential recruits that one thinks, and making the hourly wage that this recruiter is offering me puts me in a better bargaining position for employers who would want me vs where I am now.

      That said, I’m working at the same time with a recruiter from a more prestigious firm with offices in my city, and he is working to get me full time positions with real benefits and with higher annual pay. Granted, it’s been a month and he’s gotten me precisely zero interviews, but it took me months to get an interview on my own. I’m honestly considering just scrapping this whole deal and holding out for him. The recruiters at the company offering me this job are just an exercise in frustration to deal with; this woman calls me fifteen times a day to clarify this or that, other recruiters from their agency have spent their whole day calling me with other offers, and they were obnoxiously not flexible when it came to scheduling a phone interview. To be honest, I don’t think they are that competent. She kept asking me whether I would need time to think about it if I were offered the job, and she kept asking if I was sure I wanted to go from a permanent position to a temp because she wouldn’t want to disrupt relations between the agency and the bank.

      We’ll see what happens. I can always just withdraw my application. I could really care less if this damages relations between this job agency and the bank.

      ARB–Angry Retail Banker

  3. Brian says

    I was with you until the last bullet point about the commute. I’m not sure where you live, but doubling or tripling your commute really sucks after a while. Especially if there isn’t a big pay bump. If you were getting an extra 10,000 a year, I think you should consider it. Also, for the health insurance, have you look at what the costs are to use it? Is it a high deductible plan, You have to look at not only the cost of the premium but the cost if you have to use it.
    Finally, it doesn’t hurt to interview. It helps build your network. Worst case you’re offered the job and turn it down!

  4. Kate says

    As a banker, this is a little counter-intuitive, but I think you need to follow your gut. Is this a position that will get you where you’re going? Will the experience you will gain be worth the year or so getting it? What do your savings look like and can you wether a small period of unemployment? Do you hate your current job enough to make the leap? No lie, especially with the commute it doesn’t sound great, but you’re clearly talented and if a quick pit stop as a temp will be good in the long run, do it! Non-customer facing is a huge perk.

  5. Jason says

    As a former contract worker who now works at one of the largest banks in the United States, I have to agree with what Kate said. I enjoyed being a temp and it was a great thing for me for a while because I had just graduated college, didn’t need full-time benefits (I was living at home on my parents’ insurance and putting 20% of my paycheck to an IRA I started myself since my agency didn’t offer one) and I wouldn’t have been able to secure my current position without first getting the industry experiences I did as a temp. That said, I had no intention of continuing to be a temp for more than a year or two after college – which for me, thankfully, is exactly what ended up happening. I agree that this position is unlikely to turn permanent, and my suggestion would be to hold out for a better, permanent position. (Also, for what it’s worth, it’s REALLY HARD to leave a temp job that you love when you and everyone else you work with knows the only reason you are leaving is because your contract is expiring.) Are you letting recruiters on LinkedIn know you are looking for new opportunities? I know you don’t want to go further down the retail banking path, but I can’t imagine it is SO BAD that you have to leave right now. As an example, one of my friends used to work at a bank (rhyming with Belle’s Cargo) and hated it, so using her trusted connections in the industry she secretly applied for an open position at Yoo-Ess Bank and made a move that way to something she is enjoying a lot more. Best of luck to you and keep up the great posts!

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