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How TEMPting are short term work assignments? – Temping in Dublin

Link Blog | June 5, 2014

This piece appeared as an article in the Dublin People Newspapers June 2014. 

How TEMPting are short term work assignments?

Candidates searching for a new job are usually pretty united in terms of what they are looking for – as high a salary as possible (naturally), something which interests and motivates them and which offers a good work life balance in terms of hours, commute and holidays. However this unanimity is lacking in the type of contract people will consider regardless of whether it meets the above criteria or not. Permanent roles are seen as the most desirable option, while many people are reticent to consider temporary assignments or “temp jobs” (which operate on a week to week basis and are paid through agency). It’s not impossible to understand this perspective from someone in permanent employment as taking up a temp position does entail a loss of job security, but why would someone without a job and looking for work turn down an opportunity that suits their skills, experience and salary expectations?

Some reasons for the aversion to temping are fully understandable. For instance, a common problem during the last few years was the restrictive nature of the terms of many mortgage protection schemes. By paying all or part of a policyholders’ mortgage in the event of redundancy, these schemes provided a fall back to many people during the recession. However, the terms often restricted people from taking employment contracts shorter than 6 months. I never understood (despite phoning the companies myself) why an insurer wouldn’t want a claimant taking work, but faced with the prospect of losing mortgage payments I did understand refusal of the homeowner to countenance temp assignments. Another reason why people were and are put off taking temp work is a social welfare system which I feel is inflexible in its approach to supporting those attracted to short term work. Most social welfare offices require that people notify them in advance of an assignment, as well as presenting themselves in person upon completion to fill in forms and answer questions necessary for the recommencement of benefits. There is sometimes a delay in the resumption of payments as details are processed meaning a gap in income results. Rather than encouraging work, this system often disincentivises people from taking up short term employment.

While there are drawbacks to temping, the pros mostly vastly outweigh the cons. For people looking to enter or re-enter the workforce, it allows them to gain recent experience and enhance their skills making them a more attractive prospect to future employers. It also provides a great opportunity for those looking to transition to a new industry to gain experience in their preferred field. Employers know that the immediate nature of temp assignments mean their choice of candidates is limited and are therefore more open to hiring capable people who may not be the perfect match on paper. Whereas the same CV put forward for a permanent role may be rejected, time constraints offer candidates a foot in the door which can be leveraged to gain future opportunities in the industry. Time and time again I see candidates offered permanent jobs on the back of a successful temp assignment. By making themselves invaluable during their time with a company temps negate the need for employers to go through a time consuming interview process when permanent vacancies arrive. Why waste the time when there is a candidate who has learned the ropes knows the systems, and is available immediately under your nose? Under a new European directive (Agency Worker Directive) not only are companies obliged to pay temps the same rate and offer the same holidays as permanent staff, but all temps must be notified about permanent vacancies arising within the company, meaning taking up a temp role opens up opportunities. The old mantra of being easier to get a job when you have a job holds true. Finally for graduates or college goers on holidays temping is also a great way to gain experience and fund travel.

There are barriers to temping. The rigidity of the social welfare system is turning people off temping and can lead to an increase in long term unemployment for those discouraged from taking short term assignments and unable to find permanent work. Policy should ensure that it is as easy as possible for employers to hire and for candidates to take up employment. It’s also true that job security is not a selling point of temp work, but for those seeking employment I would argue it is a calculated risk worth taking. A rising job market is often signalled by an increase in temp jobs offered by employers optimistic about the future and taking a temp assignment doesn’t stop you searching for permanent roles. Why not open yourself up to the possibilities, gain experience, learn new systems, and get some money in your back pocket while you are at it?

Contact Link Personnel on 01 845 6312 if you want to be considered for temp opportunities.

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