Temp True or False: Addressing Common Misconceptions Around Interim Roles

As a recruiter specialising in the interim market, I often get questions about the nature of this type of work so I set out to clarify some of the most common misconceptions.

The first thing I ought to mention is that the terms ‘temp’ and ‘contract’ are often used interchangeably, but they don’t always mean the same thing and can add to the confusion.

Temp—short for temporary—assignments are typically used to cover short-term needs. Some of the most common reasons a business will hire a temp are for an increased volume of work. In HR, this can be for a recruitment drive, support for annual processes (like rem or performance reviews), HRIS implementations, restructures, etc. Temp roles require flexibility as the business need can sometimes change over the course of the assignment, meaning extensions or even pitching in to help other teams. With a temp assignment, you are paid either a daily or hourly rate by the recruitment agency for the work you provide to one of our clients, and your contract is with the agency.

Contract roles, on the other hand, are an arrangement directly with a business; your employment contract is with the business and not the agency. These roles are sometimes called fixed-term contracts because there is a well-defined need with a fixed end date (usually to cover a long-term leave, secondment, or even for a significant project). With contracts, you are an employee of the business (not the recruitment agency) and typically have access to all the standard entitlements that organisation offers its employees.

Here are three most common comments I hear from job-seekers considering temp work:

• Temp work will make my CV look “jumpy”
FALSE (usually) – As ways of working evolve, more businesses and hiring managers utilise contingent workers to meet their organisation’s needs. As a result, the market is more receptive and generally understanding of the ways that temp roles can be used to build experience and provide flexibility that employees may require. The keys to overcoming this misconception are 1) making intentional decisions about the roles you pursue and what you hope to get out of them, and 2) clearly communicating those career choices to prospective employers.

• I will miss out on permanent opportunities
FALSE – With short term temp roles, we will often encourage candidates to continue their permanent searches and many temps use this type of work to buy themselves time to identify the right long-term opportunity. The flexibility of a temp role extends to both the business and candidate in the sense that many companies will allow you to interview for perm roles provided you keep your communication open. Temp roles usually have much shorter notice periods than contracts (typically anywhere from one day to one week).

• Temp roles pay more
FALSE – While the hourly/daily rate for a temp role might seem higher than for a permanent position, it is usually taking into account missing entitlements (e.g. annual and sick leave) so for the most part things even out in the end.

• Temp roles are always still 5 days a week
FALSE – Lots of our Clients are engaging temps in all sorts of different ways. At the junior end it might be to help with a project and perhaps the Client only needs them for certain hours in the day. For more senior Temps, they are really being utilised in the same way a Client might engage a Consultant. So the Temp might only work a couple of days for that Client, and then the rest of the week be on an entirely different project. Flexible working is never more appropriate than when it comes to Temps!

I hope this has cleared up some common questions around temping. If you are considering temp work as a way to meet your career and personal goals, please feel free to get in touch as I’m happy to help you weigh up the pros and cons and discuss how it might work for you!