What is temping and how can it help your career?
What is temping and how can it help your career?
Maybe you haven’t yet found your dream job, but you still need to be earning? Sarah Dixon explores the benefits of taking temping work.
How temp jobs work
Temporary work – or temping, as it’s better known – is work carried out on a temporary basis where you are employed by an agency, rather than the organisation or company where you are working. Jobs can be just a day or two at a time, or last for a few months.
Companies decide to take on temps for all sorts of reasons. These include covering staff holidays, meeting a short-term extra workload or filling a position until a permanent member of staff takes the vacancy.
Temps usually work at an hourly rate and tend to be paid by the week, rather than the month-end.
Why temporary work is worth it
Temping gives you the chance to earn money while you gain first-hand experience or find your feet, and also helps avoid gaps on your CV.
If you’re looking for a permanent role, temping can help you build soft skills such as time management or personal organisation. It’s an easy way to demonstrate that you’re adaptable and to build examples to use in future job interviews.
Temping is also a great route if you don’t want to be stuck in the same job for a long time or want to explore different options. It’s a good choice if you enjoy variety and can help you work out what direction is right for you.
“I temped after I graduated whilst I was looking for a permanent full-time job. I thought I wanted to go into teaching, so I first temped as a supply teaching assistant, working in local schools. I soon realised teaching wasn’t for me but continued to sign up for temping agencies whilst deciding which path to go down. I worked in a variety of industries – from architectural firms, to media agencies. The work was mainly secretarial, administrative or meeting and greeting. It was great to earn a bit of money and gain experience in different industries.” Ella, 23, Marketing Executive
Temporary work advantages
Develop your skills
Sometimes temping means being thrown in at the deep end and learning on the job. Even doing the same temp role for different companies helps broaden your skillset. You’ll find there are different ways companies handle the same task. You may need to learn a different software package or apply different standards. Having temp work on your CV shows you are capable of learning new systems, and can also give you working knowledge of key tools for the job you really want.
Temping often gives you the chance to say when and how you want to work. Want to take a few weeks off? You can do that without having to submit holiday application forms. Temporary workers have protected rights including sickness and holiday pay, so you can even get paid for your trip abroad.
Build your network and try for size
Working for a company as a temp can sometimes help you get ahead of other applicants if any permanent vacancies arise.
While you’re out there earning and gaining skills, you’re also meeting people and building your contacts. Give people a positive impression and chances are they’ll think of you when an opportunity comes up, or they may help you further down the line.
And of course, while they’re seeing you, you’re seeing them. Temping is a great way to give a company a trial run. What’s the company culture like? How stressed do your colleagues seem? Do you actually enjoy the job or would you prefer to try something else now you’ve given it a go?
Temping gave Frances a foot in the door at the Scottish Parliament.Watch video
How to get into temping
To get work as a temp, you need to register with a temping agency. There are lots of different types of agencies out there. Some cover fairly general areas such as admin or hospitality while others focus on placing graduates or those with expertise in a niche field. It’s worth looking around and registering with an agency that matches your career interests and skillset.
Most temping agencies will expect you to sit a short computer test, submit a copy of your CV, and will want to meet you. This helps them match you with suitable vacancies. In some cases, you will then just start work. Other times – especially for longer-term placements – someone from the company where you’ll be working may want to meet you first.
As well as all these benefits, and perhaps most importantly, temping can be fun. You get to check out roles, companies and colleagues without committing yourself too soon. So, get out there, and try something new for size!
Sarah Dixon is a freelance writer and author who lives in York. She writes for Inspiring Interns, which helps graduates find their first job after university. Sarah dreamed of being a writer as a child, but managed to do almost everything else before settling on it as a career. She particularly enjoys writing about how people interact with technology, both in fact and fiction.
Last updated: 11th October 2023
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