- Temp work is what I am doing until the right permanent job comes along – 48%
- Temp work offers the flexibility that suits my lifestyle – 26%
- Temp work enables me to develop my skills base – 9%
- Temp work exposes me to a range of industries – 9%
- Temp work is all I can do due to visa restrictions – 9%
Overall, it seems that being a temp is a mixed bag of experiences, good and bad.
Whilst the results of last week’s online poll (above) clearly demonstrate that the majority of respondents are temping until the right permanent role comes their way, this is obviously influenced by whether or not the respondent is a permanent Australian resident or a traveller on a working holiday visa.
The traveller temps who provided me with their feedback via email were overwhelmingly positive about their temping experiences. One responded with the following comments:
“The advantages to me of being a temp are:
1. I have the opportunity to work in a variety of industries and ‘try them out’ before I return home – this will allow me to make a much more informed career direction decision.
2. Most of the time, I have been able to pick and choose the location of my temp assignments which is great in terms of travel time and cost.
3. I meet lots of new people all the time, which makes being a stranger in a new city much easier!”
It was interesting to learn about the experiences of temps who are not travellers, who choose temp work as a way of developing their skills base and widen their exposure to different organisations and industries before steering their career along a particular path or, even more interestingly, because the notion of committing to one position or one industry for the duration of their career is ‘daunting’:
“I love being a temp as I feel as though it combines a sense of security with a degree of flexibility. I personally feel as though it would be daunting to remain in one position my whole life without experiencing other employment fields. The most exciting thing about being a temp is that I am currently working in a field which is completely unrelated to what I am studying at university. It is a career choice that I have considered in the past but have not had the opportunity to explore until I attained this position. At such a young age, I already feel as though this temp position has exposed me to a whole new world and I can say with confidence that it has been an experience which has provided me with knowledge that I hope to retain for the remainder of my working life.”
Another temp responded from a slightly different perspective. Having had wonderful experiences temping in England, she has returned to Australia and is still temping …
“I started temping because I wanted to live overseas for a while. I was temping in England and had a great time. The rules of temping are very different over there! You can get paid for days off (up to 20 days per year when I was there – this has since increased to 30 days per year). This started to cover public holidays, but expanded to cover planned time off.
I did not plan to temp on my return to Australia, but unfortunately this has been the only work available to me. My experience and qualifications do not seem to be recognised and so temping here has become a frustrating experience. I am getting roles not relevant to my skills and knowledge, for example, I am being offered reception roles when I have the qualifications and experience to do PA work. This has only led to the inability to secure a permanent role in the area I would like as I now have no “current” experience as a PA. So, from my experience, temping overseas was a much more rewarding and fulfilling experience!”
There are always, however, practical considerations, too, when it comes to being a temp and choosing which assignments to do. In fact, it’s not always a matter of choice, but necessity:
“Due to the restrictions of the visa, it’s hard to find a 6 month contract by myself, so temping with an agency ensures I have some money coming in – I have regular bills to pay, so need a regular income!” Another commented: “Temping through a reputable agency means you get paid on time and you can ask advice from your recruiter regarding tax forms, superannuation, etc at the end of employment.”
And it’s not all fun and games being a temp! Several temps referred to the uncertainty of never knowing if you will have work from one week to the next, as well as not being paid for sick leave or holidays, which can eat significantly into savings and create extra pressure to work even when you’re feeling desperately unwell.
One temp also expressed her frustration with the lack of response from some recruitment agencies: “no matter how many times you call and remind them you’re there, you are never contacted for jobs. It’s also hard to make yourself ‘stand out’ sometimes. You want to make a good impression to ensure you are called often for work but you can feel like ‘just another number’ at times … this has a lot to do with the size of the agency, though, and they relationship you are able to develop (or not!) with your recruiter.”
And, of course, people being people, being a temp means you often get thrust into bizarre places and situations you would not normally have exposure to:
“Working for a counselling not-for-profit organisation on the reception meant I had some over-flow calls and I would often get people thinking I was a counsellor. They’d often go into their life stories and share particular detail on their health problems, some of which were pretty gruesome. This was a weird daily occurrence I could have done without!”
Still, it’s all “character building” as they say …