What Does Temporary Work Offer Me?

The answer to this question greatly depends on the type of person you are and the situation in which you find yourself, i.e. if you crave long term stability and hate change, temporary employment may not be for you. However, if you have been made redundant and desperately need the money, you may not have a choice.

Hopefully the following information will help to clarify any thoughts/ dispel any fears you may have.

Broadly, there are two groups of people who may not know the answer to the above question:

Firstly, those people joining the temporary job market for the first time (either through necessity or through sheer frustration of their current permanent job).

Secondly, those looking to start a career in ‘interim consultancy’ – if this is you, scroll down to after point 4!

If you have not done much temporary work before, there is a natural fear of the unknown and the thought of walking into a strange building, an unknown company and working with a bunch of strangers may not fill you with too much joy.

Don’t worry. It isn’t as bad as it may first appear and there are some very good benefits that you can gain from the experience.

Temporary work nowadays, particularly in an office environment, has changed. No longer is temporary resource used to do the boring and tedious work – companies simply do not have the budgets to spend their money in this manner.

Temporary workers are used to ‘add value’ to the company at that particular time. This may be as simple as covering a maternity leave or as complex as a large system implementation but, either way, the company will see that temporary resource as necessary for their business at that time and, importantly, good value for money.

This implies that temporary jobs will always be well considered by an employer and therefore relevant and stimulating for the worker they bring into the business.

There are 4 main benefits to you entering into temporary work:

  1. Money
    • Whether you are money motivated or not, we all need money to survive and, if nothing else, temporary work will help keep a roof over your head.
    • Good permanent jobs are hard to find so obtaining temporary work can keep you ‘economically comfortable’ while trying to find the perfect permanent job.
  2. Strengthen your CV
    • If you are out of work and looking for your next permanent job, quite often your CV can develop large gaps of unemployment. This is not looked upon favourably by employers. Temporary work ensures this doesn’t happen whilst offering the flexibility to continue your search for a permanent job.
    • In any new job, new skills are learnt and this is no different with temporary jobs. This could be new systems, new technical skills, new processes or new competencies (such as problem solving, leadership, communication skills etc.)
  3. Exposure to other job opportunities
    • Once working in a business, you never know what other opportunities there may be in the future. If you can showcase your skills and cultural fit with that company, you may be asked to join them permanently – this could even be several months after your temporary assignment has finished with them.
    • ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’, has never been truer than when job hunting. Building a network through temporary assignments may lead to an introduction with a third party needing to recruit someone permanently.
  4. Change your career path
    • Temporary jobs are an excellent way of gaining new skills in previously unchartered areas of your career. Employers are often more willing to be flexible on the background/ skills of the person they hire temporarily – an individual’s personality, adaptability and potential are often more important.
    • If you are trying something new and don’t enjoy it, you don’t have to be there for long – it’s a temp job. You have a choice of either sticking it out knowing it’s not for long or leave with a very short notice period (typically one week).

Professional Interims

If you are looking to develop yourself as an ‘Interim Consultant’ or ‘lifetime temp’, then your benefits will differ dramatically from those above.

For this lifestyle, it is generally recommended that you know ‘your market’ and become an expert in developing those skills. A ‘jack of all trades’ will often be beaten to the job by an expert in that particular field, e.g. systems implementers, Technical IFRS reporting, turnaround, M&A etc.

The benefits of this style of career are as follows:

  1. Money
    • Most interims are paid more for their services than an equivalent permanent employee. They are paid as ‘an expert’ with specific skills to come in and deliver the required service on time and to budget.
  2. Freedom
    • You can forget the politics and internal pressures of corporate life safe in the knowledge you are an outsider and your career will not be affected if internal battles need to be fought.
  3. Projects
    • Most interim work is project driven in some form. Even if this is simply covering a maternity/ sickness leave – the project aim is to ensure smooth running and consistency during this time. The delivery and completion of these projects provides huge satisfaction and personal pride for professional interims.
  4. Flexibility
    • You can undertake whatever assignments you wish, whenever you wish. If you want a 6 week break in the Summer, you can. However, as an interim, this flexibility comes at a price – you only get paid when you are working.

So, in general, temporary work can be very lucrative, very rewarding and highly motivational but it is advised to think long and hard before leaving permanent employment to do this.

Be prepared that it may be ‘feast and famine’ with regards to regularity of assignment and therefore pay. You may also feel under more pressure and have to work harder to deliver the project because of the premium you are being paid (this is more applicable to professional interims than temporary workers.)

Overall though, temporary work can be highly beneficial in both good and bad job markets so make sure you give it some thought!

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