Temping is a great way to gain skills and experience fast, and with high demand throughout the sector, it’s a great time to give it a try. Harris Hill’s senior temps specialists Sekai Lindsay and Ryan Elmer have the lowdown on what you need to know...
If you’re considering it for the first time however, here’s a summary of the basics.
What’s the difference between permanent, temporary and contract roles?
Obviously the duration of the job, but there are some other key differences:
You're employed directly by the organisation, on their payroll and, once you pass any probation period, entitled to all their staff benefits.
You're employed by the agency through which you found the role, on the agency’s payroll and entitled to the agency’s benefits. However you're under the care and command of the organisation the agency has placed you in, normally for an agreed length of time, but this may be extended (with your consent) if the requirement is ongoing.
Fixed term contracts
You're employed directly by the organisation and on their payroll, just like a permanent role, but for a specific, limited amount of time, such as 6 or 12 months.
According to ONS figures, for around 30% of temporary workers it’s purely the lack of a permanent job, but the larger proportion have a variety of reasons, including:
• The chance to work for multiple charities in a short space of time, rapidly expanding your insight and experience of the sector.
• The opportunity to sample different roles in different places, helping to identify what you want (and what you don’t) from your career if you’re unsure.
• Gaining more skills, confidence and adaptability, improving your prospects of landing (and succeeding in) the perfect permanent position when you find it.
• To continue earning, including holiday pay and pension contributions, even if future plans mean you can’t commit to the role permanently.
Don’t expect it every time, but there’s also the chance it may develop into something longer-term or even permanent. Getting into an organisation is often the hard part, but if you’re there as a temp and known to be personable, reliable, hard-working and a quick learner, they may be keen to keep you on board, even if you don’t have the specific experience that would normally be required.
What are the drawbacks?
It’s not all kittens and rainbows of course, even (we assume) at the Rainbow Centre for Kittens, so be aware that:
• You’ll be paid weekly, for exactly the hours you work, as marked on a timesheet signed by your manager. So when you’re not working (if you’re off sick or for any other reason) you’re not earning. However you’re still entitled to Statutory Sick Pay.
• Requirements for temps tend to arise at short notice and can end just as quickly too, so you won’t always know how long your role will continue, or what you’ll be doing (and therefore earning) next week/month. Planning ahead for anything can be a challenge.
• Under Agency Workers Regulations (AWR)you’re entitled to the same salary and benefits as permanent staff after 12 weeks in the same role, but until then you may sometimes be on less favourable terms.
How to temp through an agency
Most temp vacancies go through agencies because the employer needs someone immediately. Yesterday, preferably.
For these last-minute requests, there's no time to advertise and wait for applications; employers count on agencies to know good people already, so you need to be registered with one to be in the running.
• Choose a reputable agency with plenty of jobs in the sector you’re keen to work in. Let’s say Harris Hill, for example (other agencies are available). Then just get in touch to register as a candidate.
• We’ll need your CV, and will take you through the necessary checks and references first, to save you any unexpected roadblocks later.
• We’ll then discuss your experience, the type of roles you’re looking for and aim to match your skills with suitable roles.
• If there’s nothing immediately, don’t worry. Just keep an eye on the site, check back often, and apply for roles that match your skills and experience.
Apply for the right roles, not just any roles
This is really important as a temp. Meet 80% of the criteria for a permanent role and you can probably be trained on the rest, but this doesn’t work for temps as there’s no time for training.
Clients need someone with all the right skills from day one, and with roles often attracting 100+ applications, they’ll probably find them. So there’s no benefit in applying for anything and everything; better to focus your very best efforts on a small number of roles where you closely match the requirements.
Nonetheless, there are ways of improving your prospects…
How to stand out
• Remember that temp placements happen at speed, so make sure your CV is sufficiently clear and well-structured to see the key points at a glance.
• A short opening profile summarising key skills will help this, as will bullet points to pick out skills and experience.
• Include any transferable skills, explaining how they’re relevant for the role.
• Tailor your CV to the role in question. Don’t make the reader piece together clues as to why you’re right for it – spell it out clearly from the start.
• List any relevant systems, CRMs or packages you’ve worked with, and be specific, even if they’re a little obscure. You never know when one of them might be the deciding factor.
Finally, one of the most effective things you can do is also one of the easiest, yet it’s often overlooked: let us know when you’re available.
Why it pays to keep us posted
When a last-minute temp vacancy comes in, we need to know two things fast: who do we know with the right skills, and who’s free to do it?
Our database can answer the first question, but because we don’t track your every move (we can barely plant a plant, never mind a microchip), not necessarily the second. Unless you're already working for us elsewhere, we can only be certain of your availability if you've recently told us.
This needn’t mean calling in every week – a one-line email will do, or even just a text. But simply by confirming you’re available, you’ll have dramatically improved your prospects of a great placement coming up soon.
We hope that’s answered a few questions, but if you’d like to know more, please get in touch via the details below, or you can register as a candidate here.
Business Support roles
020 7820 7307 • Email Sekai
Marcomms, Events and Fundraising
020 7820 7313 • Email Ryan
More from the Harris Hill Blog
Jobs in the charity sector are bouncing back in a very big way, so recruiters and charities alike are jostling for a glimpse of your CV. Read more ►
We've recently relocated our central London office to a continentally-named corner of SE1 with a rather colourful history. Read more ►
Opportunity for all
Find out how we’re working to deliver more diverse, equitable and inclusive recruitment…
Recruiting a charity CEO?
Our executive recruitment specialists have an exceptional record of successful CEO, chair, trustee and…
Charity sector salaries
Check out the market rate for your charity role in the latest Harris Hill Salary Survey.
We're delighted to share the news that Harris Hill is now B Corp Certified! It makes us part of a global community of businesses meeting high standards of social and environmental impact, accountability and transparency, and leading the transformation of the global economic system. That's a big ambition, but at the simplest level, being certified is recognition that we're here for the right rea...Read more
As part of our diversity and inclusion strategy, the Harris Hill website now features the award-winning Recite Me assistive toolbar, providing a wide range of accessibility and language support tools for a more inclusive online experience. Here’s an overview of the benefits and how to use it.There’s a lot to look out for when you’re searching for a new job online. In most cases, you'll actual...Read more
Landing just ahead of the big day and 20th anniversary celebrations, meet the teams playing for glory in the 2023 Charity Softball League!Like any other year, 2003 gave the world some things we’d rather it hadn’t - war in Iraq, the SARS outbreak, the Black Eyed Peas – but over the course of that long hot summer, it also gave us (courtesy of founding father Leo Visconti) something we’re very gl...Read more
They’re certainly earning their keep in these financially-challenging times, but are charity finance professionals securing higher salaries and what’s happening in the market? Here’s what our finance experts have to say on the subject, updated from our 2023 Salary Survey, which you can view or download below for all the figures.Finance market trendsTo the world of charity finance now, whe...Read more
Candidate scarcity and high inflation have made securing new staff more challenging (and expensive) than ever, but there ARE ways to improve your hiring prospects that needn't cost a thing...(updated and extended from the 2023 Harris Hill Salary Survey)Beyond the world of marketing, where they grow on carefully-branded trees, our 2023 Salary Survey finds candidates in short supply and high dema...Read more
Hiring temps is a flexible and cost-effective way to fill gaps and bring in extra resource or skills, but if you haven't before, where should you start and what are the benefits? Freelance writer and HR specialist Nicola Greenbrook talks us through everything you need to know.What is a temp?A temporary agency worker or ‘temp’ differs from a permanent member of staff as, rather than being direc...Read more
For this week's insights from our 2023 Salary Survey it's the turn of business services, our catch-all term for the operational and support roles that keep organisations running and make things happen.You'll find the latest figures for jobs in operations, admin and support, data management, projects & programmes and HR in the survey itself, available to view or download below.Meanwhile here'...Read more
From the people who brought you the 2022 Harris Hill Salary Survey... yes, it's the 2023 Harris Hill Salary Survey which is out now, and this year we're taking a closer look at the market in several key areas.You can view or download the survey here to check out the figures:One striking feature this year is that market conditions vary substantially between charity departments – there's a wid...Read more