My second week in London has flown by and this city continues to change me: My pace has quickened, my taste for tea has become more discerning and my views on job hunting have altered. When I first graduated from university I stayed away from employment agencies, but since coming to London I have found a new appreciation for them.
Many travellers who make London their base for a while tend to take on temporary employment to supplement their funds since the city is one of the most expensive in the world.
Exactly what are temporary employment agencies?
“Temp agencies were originally the providers of occasional, part-time or emergency help when a company had a pressing need for more workers,” explains Paul Copcutt, a career coach and consultant for Square Peg Solution. “Now many of them have both temporary divisions and permanent placement arms that put people into jobs. A temp agency typically is called in when there is a need for workers but the company does not want to hire on a permanent basis for a variety of reasons.”
Signing up for temporary employment can be a perfect solution not only for travellers who don’t want to commit to a permanent position, but for anyone looking for a way to try out various positions.
“Most contracts are negotiated on a hourly wage basis, temp agencies usually do not undercut the going market rates because they would struggle to attract the right people. They then add a percentage on top of the hourly rate as their fee to the hiring company,” he explains. “Contracts can last for a few hours through to a few months.”
However, signing up with a temp agencies is not as simple as submitting a resumé and being placed in an appropriate position. Generally you have to call the agency you’re interested in and request an interview. Then you come in with all your paperwork, and may be asked to take various tests and go through an interview process. From there, the agency will help you find an appropriate position.
But being a temp for too long can have its pitfalls: Future employers may see you as indecisive in terms of your career path; you are not guaranteed work; a contract might end sooner then expected; and you have less say in terms of who you work for, promotions, benefits and vacation pay.
So for many it’s best to use temporary contracts to get your feet wet in the working world and as a guide to the right your career path.
“Do not forget that everyone you come in to contact with on a temporary assignment might be your next (permanent) boss,” says Copcutt.