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Career Advice

Temp Employment…the advantages and disadvantages of temp jobs

Having been in the position of working in temp employment and also working in recruitment as both a Recruitment Consultant and a Business Manager for an employment agency, I am in a good position to judge the advantages and disadvantages of temp employment.

Temp employment can be anything from one day through to a few years, but you generally work through an employment agency, get paid on a weekly basis, based on an hourly rate, and are used, on most occasions to cover an existing job function that a company needs support with.

On occasions, temporary staff can be offered permanent roles, or offered a role on a temp – perm basis from the outset. Some people do end up making careers out of temp employment and during my time working in recruitment, I remember reading a story about a temp who had worked through one employment agency for 40 years! However as good as temp employment can be, there are definite advantages and disadvantages to temporary work. Check out our list below and hopefully this will help you decide if temp employment is for you…


Gives you freedom…Depending on ‘where you are at’ in your employment career, temp employment
assignments can be an advantage to anyone not wanting to commit to a long-term position or responsibility. It can be an advantage to any ‘stay at home parent’ who perhaps only wants to work during school term time, or commit to part-time and flexible work, or a recent Graduate who wants to work for perhaps 6 months, before going travelling.

Make a career out of it… This is only specific in some areas, where you can be guaranteed to find ongoing temp employment, but it is true that some people prefer the option of an ongoing temporary career. They may find work through 1 or 2 employment agencies over a period of 10 -15 years, and the employment agency, knowing that they are a committed temp, will generally give the loyal few temps they have, first refusal on any temporary work they know that they would be interested in.

Can pay you more… Some people may scoff at this one, as sometimes temps can be paid rather less than the company’s permanent staff, and recently, due to the recession, little or no more than the national minimum wage. However, there are some careers, often vocational or professional positions like teaching, nursing, medicine, pharmacy, engineering, and consultancy work, which may pay much more than the permanent equivalent. Why? You may ask – well like anything in life, the cost of the supply is generally based on the requirement, necessity and urgency of the demand.

More benefits for temps now… If you are based in the UK, Agency Worker Regulations were introduced in 2011, with the intention of giving temporary staff more rights, after a small period of time temping in one particular business. In essence, it was to give temps similar pay and working conditions.However, having left recruitment in 2011, I am not 100% sure how the implementation of the AWR has impacted the UK temping industry. If you are needing official advice on this – then you should check out the AWR rulings online.

Varied work and experience + Meet new people… A permanent job gives you security and stability, but it
also can give you a mind numbing sense of repetition and conformity. Some people love the security that this gives you, other people would prefer to experience different workplaces and work experiences and to constantly meet new people. You are also therefore not so tied to where you work and live and many people consider temp employment as it can take them to new places and environments.

Check out page 2 for the disadvantages…

Pages: 1 2


21 Responses to “Temp Employment…the advantages and disadvantages of temp jobs”

  1. I would like to work as a temp and applied to several recruitment agencies a while ago (last year and earlier)I. just got a confirmation that I was ‘added to their database’ and never heard from them again.

    Posted by Mados | May 1, 2012, 10:14 am
    • Apparently you have to really pester them to find work for you. I’ve just heard from one former colleague who has for two years remained in near permanent employment via tempting, but to do this she claims to have signed up with about 40 agencies (are there really that many?) and to have consistently badgered them for work.

      Perhaps the need to badger is another disadvantage to add to the list, Alastair?

      Posted by david73277 | May 1, 2012, 10:41 am
  2. Well written! I temped for a few years. It stored me at the time. I was one of those temps often called on because of my adaptability and ability to settle into a new position quickly with minimal fuss and often no training needed. It can be very rewarding if you go about it the right way, but it definitely doesn’t suit all personalities and situations.

    Posted by Corrianne | May 1, 2012, 6:26 pm
  3. I’m with Corrianne on this one. If you get a reputation for reliability and performance by sticking by your promises and delivering a good result – whether it’s a whole interim management project or a few bits of typing – you can make a career out of it. And the way that the world is going, particularly for those who’ve been in middle management positions, the way back to work seems be more likely to be through temping/interim rather than landing a permanent role. The imaginative employers and agencies do understand about adaptability and flexibility, but sure, there are those recruiters who won’t look at temps if you’ve not worked in that precise arena before. I would always say, if the work appeals and you can do it, go for it. Because it’s temporary – and unless you perceive it will lead to bigger things – you do have the reassurance that if it’s not 100% suitable, at least you won’t be there forever.

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