Intro - My life as a temp
Having recently graduated from University I was faced with the prospect of having to make a decision on what to next. This was something I had little experience of as I had been in full time education since primary school and had decided with relative ease which college to attend, which A-levels to take, what University to party at and, as a sideline, what degree to pretend to study whilst there! My degree involved a one year work placement which formed the third year of my study and saw me working in a large London Public Relations firm. I had a great time there and I know that this is what I want to return to but as with most graduates I have left Uni with vast debts and I know that if I return to London straight away I will not be able to pay these off (Oxford Street being like a place of worship for me!). This brings me nicely onto the topic of this article which is temping.
What a great way to earn a living - the positives of temping
For those of you who haven't tried temping before or haven't even considered it, you should. It's a great, flexible way of earning money whilst saving for your next move or in some cases even deciding what that next move will be. You get to meet new people, visit new places and you have none of the monotony that frequently accompanies a permanent position. Temping can also lead to exciting opportunities that you may never have even considered. For example, if you don't know what it is you want to do temping provides the perfect chance of trying out various working environments and job roles. You may be taken on temporarily to do one thing but once you're there a vacancy may come up in another department that really interests you and as they say once your foot is in the door…. Even if the company you are employed to temp with doesn't offer you the kind of position that you crave, chances are they may know people or companies that do and the old age adage, it's who you know not what you know, is proved true.
Temping is great for developing confidence and communication skills as you can't be a wallflower when you are flitting from place to place. It also allows you to gain some fab office gossip without being caught up in the boring office politics. People tend to like to use the temp as a sounding board for their bitching as they know that you are often not familiar enough with the people involved to tell them and you won't be around long enough to get them into too much trouble! Many employees that have worked in a company for a while are bored of one another and so when new blood comes in, in the form of a temp, you can get a lot of interest and who doesn't like telling their life story to an appreciative audience?! You also get to hear their story a lot of the time too but if you're noisy like me then this will also appeal!
The other side of the coin - temping's pitfalls
On the negative side, and let's be honest what doesn't have one of these, there can be a bit of uncertainty involved in temping. It's not always a particularly nice feeling coming to the end of one assignment and not knowing when or where the next one will be. You may be out of work for a time but from a personal point of view I would say that once you have that first assignment under your belt it's usually more a case of turning work down rather than hunting to find it. I guess the amount of work available depends heavily on individual factors e.g. what it is you are skilled in, how far you are willing to travel, what money you are looking for etc. As with permanent positions you may end up trekking to quite a few interviews and not getting the jobs but I would say this is a lot less common with temping as you are normally up against far fewer candidates. Also, as with permanent positions, you may not like the company you are working for or the people within it but that is when temping comes into it's own as unlike a permanent position you may only be there for a number of weeks and anyone can handle that (remember what doesn't kill you makes you stronger!). If the temporary assignment is longer and you really aren't enjoying it then talk to your agency as they can often place you elsewhere and put someone in your current position that may be more suited to it.
Temping is not for everyone and if you like to feel settled and have a routine then you may not enjoy it but even if you are temping you can get longer term assignments which can see you in one place for a number of months and as mentioned above may turn into something permanent. There is also the occasional problem of having to chase your agency for your weekly timesheet or for your wages which appear not to have made it to your bank account, but again these problems are not just faced by temps.
Advice - how to be a triumph at temping
For those of you who have now read this and decided to give temping a go I think you'll have a great time. If I had one bit of advice to give it would be to take a proactive role. If you establish a good relationship with your agency and the people within it they are more likely to work harder in trying to find you a job. If you just sit back and wait for the phone to ring, you are likely to miss out. Give your agency a call and find out if anything is coming up and keep an eye on the jobs they are advertising, they may not have contacted you about it as they think it's not up your street or that you are still in another role. They often have a lot of people on their books but if you make a personal connection with them it's likely to work in your favour. Please note, I am not advocating stalking or bribery! As a final point you should remember that when you go into a temporary assignment you are representing the agency as well as yourself and so the more you put in the more you are likely to get out. As the song in the hit musical Chicago says, 'When your good to Mama, Mama's good to you!'