Many UK companies like using agency contracts, as they’re flexible and the recruitment process is fast. In addition, the agency usually deals with the menial admin and payroll-related tasks. Although businesses often use recruitment agencies to fill short-term gaps, such as holiday or maternity cover, there is now an increasing trend towards so-called ‘temp-to-perm’ positions. This allows companies to “try before they buy”, and enables temps to see whether they fit in to the company before they commit to a permanent role. Find out more about how temping can be a first step towards becoming a permanent employee.
The temping sector has undergone huge changes over the past 20 years or so. There is still a high demand for temporary workers from traditional temping sectors such as logistics, construction and office administration. Demand is also rising for temps in executive roles, and over recent years the number of agency contracts in the education, engineering and IT sectors has increased. Covid-19 has accelerated the trend towards more flexible careers, with remote working becoming increasingly common, and temping is now seen as a great way to gain flexibility and access to a wide range of job offers. Young graduates often use temping to quickly gain experience in the workplace and enhance their CV.
Although temping is less stable than a permanent role, as businesses change their recruitment practices, many recruitment agencies now offer more long-term roles lasting several months or more. More agencies are also going digital, allowing jobseekers to do everything online. This makes registering, looking for a job and signing an agency or employment contract far more convenient. Many online agencies use job matching tools to send you the job offers which are the best match for your profile. All you have to do is take your pick!
In many cases, temping can be a springboard to a permanent role. Traditionally, temping has and continues to be used for plugging temporary employment gaps such as seasonal work increases, or replacing employees on annual leave. Increasingly though, businesses are starting to use temping as a means of recruiting for permanent positions. This solution enables companies to quickly find someone with the right professional skills and experience. The recruitment process can be long and costly, and some businesses (particularly smaller firms) prefer to outsource time-consuming job descriptions, CVs and interviews.
Once the temping role has been agreed with the company or ‘hirer’, the agency will provide the temporary worker with a ‘written statement of employment particulars’, which provides all relevant details about the job. The agency acts as the employer. This saves the hirer’s HR department a great deal of time and energy, as the agency will deal with administration, payroll and tax.
The process is the same whether or not the company wishes to subsequently recruit for a permanent role. However, companies looking for a permanent employee tend to use the temporary assignment as a trial period. They will therefore be assessing the temporary worker’s skills, how well they do their job and how they fit in with the rest of the team. If they are happy with the worker, they may well offer them a long-term position.
Consequently, if you want to make your temp role permanent, make sure that you use this time wisely to prove to the employer that you’re right for the role. This is not only about doing the job well, but also turning up on time, looking smart and making an effort with your colleagues. Try not to use your phone and personal e-mail during working hours. These seemingly small details can easily sway the decision of your manager.
Businesses increasingly value the knowledge of good recruitment agencies with expertise in finding and matching good candidates for a specific role. Companies are willing to invest in agencies that know their sector well and can find the best candidates, bearing in mind that recruiting the wrong person can be extremely costly in the long run.
As soon as you sign up with a temporary work agency, you’ll be assigned a dedicated consultant. They will start by checking through the information on your profile, and by asking you to add any extra information that might be needed. They might also give you advice on how to improve your CV or covering letter. Your consultant will provide support throughout your time as a temp with the agency, and will help you to map your career path. They will also act as an intermediary with the hirer when you’re on an assignment. They can not only help to resolve any issues, but also to prioritise and promote your profile if you’ve made a good impression. They may even put your profile forward to other companies looking for staff, including permanent roles if this is what you’re looking for. Make sure that you keep in touch with your consultant to maximise the benefits of this connection.
If your hiring company is happy with your work but isn’t currently recruiting permanent staff, they may recommend your services to another recruiter in their network. LinkedIn is also great for networking, referrals and finding out about job offers, and you can add connections that you’ve made at work.
Perspectives on temping have shifted over the years. Rather than equating temping with a lack of stability, many (particularly younger) people now see it as a valuable opportunity to enhance their CV while gaining a range of experience. If you have been rejected for jobs due to a lack of experience, temping can be crucial to gaining the skills that you need, and could help you to land your dream permanent contract. Temp to perm contracts let you to showcase your skills to the company you’re working for, as you would during a trial period.
Temping also opens doors for those with little or no qualifications, and allows people who are out of work to gain easy access to the labour market. As mentioned in previous articles, many temping jobs do not require any specific qualifications. Meanwhile, sector-specific training is often relatively easy to access, such as the Construction Plant Competence Scheme for construction and logistics roles. Your agency or hirer may even pay for and/or organise your course.
Remember that soft skills also rank highly on recruiters’ wish lists when taking on temporary workers.
Over recent years, and particularly since the introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations in October 2011, great strides have been taken towards improving the working conditions and protections offered to temporary workers. This has helped to foster a more positive image of temping, and opened it up to new categories of people.
The modern temp sector provides even greater benefits for employees including flexibility, career progression and easy access to a wide range of job offers, including long-term positions. Meanwhile, organisations are increasingly using temping contracts as a stepping stone to fill their permanent roles.
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