If you type “bad experience with temp agency” in Google, you come across 32 million results, full of scare stories.
It would be a pity not to consider temping for that reason – there are some really good recruitment agencies out there that can offer interesting job opportunities, particularly at the start of your career or if you’re looking for flexibility in your working patterns.
Here are the top 7 reasons why you should give temping a go, and how to get started.
1) Temping helps you climb the career ladder, early on
If you have no prior work experience, landing your first permanent role can be tricky.
How many times do job descriptions, even for junior roles, require these dreaded “one to years of experience”?
Temping can be a great way for you to gain an initial exposure to the corporate world, get a better understanding of what your ideal job could look like in the future. As you may move from one assignment to the other, it is a great opportunity to discover multiple companies, and to test which sectors, company sizes, cultures, departments and roles you may be most excited by within a short period of time.
It is also a great way to figure out how to navigate the internal human resources processes, which can often differ from one company to the other.
It will make your CV stand out more against other students who may have no work experience. You’ll have real life anecdotes to share at interviews, which is a real differentiating factor against other candidates you may only have a very conceptual idea of what working in a corporate environment means.
If you are a student and have some spare time and capacity, it is a really interesting route to consider (and you get paid too!).
2) Temping gives you extra experience and skills
If you are having trouble securing a permanent position, temping is an easy way to gain extra experience and learn new skills, which can be very valuable when you apply for your next job.
Your CV is richer and it helps you gain solid references that you can share with your future employers.
In essence, it makes you more employable!
3) Temping offers flexibility
Temping is also a way to allow you to pursue your passion or a course, while helping you make ends meet.
It helps you find work when and where you want or need it.
4) Contrary to gig working or freelancing, you don’t need to find work yourself
You may be hesitating between gig working (where you find temporary work opportunities advertised by employers directly on digital platforms), freelancing (where you self-employed and work on temporary assignments directly for employers) and temping (where you find temporary work opportunities through recruitment agencies).
With temping, recruitment agencies are responsible for finding you suitable work opportunities, in line with your aspirations, qualifications and training. Agencies have pre-established relationships with companies looking to hire temporary staff. They present your profile to the companies who can pick and choose who they’d like to hire.
With gig or free-lancing platforms, you are the one responsible for finding work for yourself – in a nutshell, “sell” your abilities and make your profile stand-out for the crowds. That can be difficult if you have no prior experience.
5) It is good for your cash flows
As a temporary worker in the UK, agencies typically pay you on a weekly or fortnightly basis, would the employer pay the agency or not (and this does happen more often than you may think!).
If you’re gig working or a self-employed freelancer, you are generally paid 30 to 60 days after you’ve completed your piece of work (if the employer pays you!). This payment delay can be quite problematic for your cash flows.
6) As a temporary agency worker, you are protected by law
Temporary agency workers benefit from a number of employment rights in the UK.
You are entitled to the National Minimum Wage, statutory paid holidays and pension payments, and under the Working Time Directive, you’re prevented from working longer than 48 hours per week.
By contrast, if you’re self-employed, your employment rights are limited to protecting your health and safety at work.
7) Temping can give you access to permanent work opportunities
Starting with a temporary assignment is a great entry point to become a permanent member of staff.
Some employers recruit temporary staff as a way to gauge the ability of their future employees, flexibly. If they’re positively impressed by your abilities and potential, they may either offer you a permanent position, or help you find suitable permanent positions in the company, recommending you to other colleagues. What’s more, some internal positions are never advertised externally – being a temp allows you to hear about these opportunities first hand.
There’s even a contractual clause in the terms of business of temporary recruitment agencies that caters for this situation. Companies have to pay what is called a “temp-to-perm” fee to cover for the loss incurred by recruitment agencies, when one of their temporary candidates is placed into a permanent position.
How to get started?
To become a temporary agency worker, there are three steps to follow:
Think about the role(s) you would like to apply for, your ideal working location, company sector and company size.
There are many recruitment agencies to choose from:
- some are specialised in permanent recruitment, others in temporary recruitment or both
- some are generalist agencies, who can cater for all positions, others specialise in certain sectors or niches
- some agencies have a network of branches all across the UK, others are independent (“boutique”) agencies who have only one office in one location, and serve their local area.
Be clear about what type of agency you would prefer to interact with.
You can use a search engine (e.g., Google!) to find suitable agencies. There are also directories of recruitment agencies that can help you find good ones (e.g., TempaGoGo).
You can shortlist the agencies you’re interested in, and then look for reviews left by other candidates and employers, online, for example on Glassdoor or Google. These reviews are often a good indication of the reliability and quality of the agency, and reflect how they treat their candidates.
You have two ways of registering your interest.
You can find existing vacancies via a job board or Google for Jobs, where a large number of agencies promote their open vacancies, or directly on the websites of the agencies you’re targeting. You can apply for these positions via the job boards or directly by contacting the agencies – the job advert will clarify how and who to contact.
Alternatively, if there is no open vacancy, you may want to contact the agencies you’ve shortlisted directly, send them your CV proactively, clarifying in your cover email what type of positions you’d be looking to apply for. You may also decide to come to their branch in person, but it is preferable to book an appointment beforehand.
If your profile is of interest to the agency, they’ll invite you to meet one of their consultants in person. They will ask you to bring your original ID documents, proof of training and qualifications and may organise an interview. They may even give you some tips on how to improve your resume.
Then, wait and see – they’ll contact you as soon as they have an open position.
Good luck with your search, and happy temping