The pros and cons of temping

We bring you a snapshot of the temping market and find out what are the pros and cons of such a career move

The debate around whether temping is a positive for job prospects or not has raged around the world for years and years – but the nub of the answer varies from trainee to trainee depending on their own personal circumstances.

Within the current business environment, particularly in those countries that are enduring challenging economies, a number of hiring managers have taken an approach to take advantage of the knowledge and skills that temporary and interim staff can bring to a company’s bottom line.

These managers have increasingly looked to capitalise on the readily available and highly specialised trainees in the temporary market. Using temps means that businesses can adjust easily and quickly to workload variations and bring in functional experts with the required experiences to manage strategic initiatives.

However, companies bringing in temporary professionals need to be sure they are taking the right measures to integrate these trainees into their teams or else they will fail to see the best results from this staffing strategy – and could even do more harm than good.

Exciting careers

Phil Sheridan, UK managing director at Robert Half, says: ‘In areas such as accountancy and finance, candidates are choosing contract employment for the flexibility, variety and career progression that it affords.

‘While once considered a bridge to permanent employment, these opportunities can provide exciting careers in high-growth areas such as regulatory reporting and management accounting, playing an integral role in a company's strategic direction and growth.

‘Temping is a great way to get your foot in the door and audition for the job.  Many permanent placements originate from temporary or contract opportunities.’

Many career experts report that the changes to the global working environment mean there’s no longer such a thing as the traditional nine to five job.

Ellis King, manager of the part-qualified and transactional team at Morgan McKinley, says: ‘At Morgan McKinley, we’re seeing an upsurge in demand for accountants who can help global organisations implement specialist projects, which is where contractors come into force.

‘These individuals need to be flexible in their approach – for example, often they have to be prepared to conduct business within New York or West Coast office hours.’

New skills

The benefit of contracting is not only the ability to command a premium rate, but also the opportunity to gain new skills and exposure to new software packages and different ways of working.

Temping can offer great flexibility to finance professionals, allowing you to decide what type of role you want to take on and when. Although you may not be able to receive support for training opportunities from an employer, temping can give individuals valuable experience and help develop skills and expertise.

Karen Young, director at Hays Accountancy & Finance, says: ‘In the UK, temporary professionals have been in high demand in the past years to provide support in areas such as systems changes and finance efficiency. With the shortage of part-qualified accountants, we have also seen an increase in vacancies for assistant accountants on a temporary basis.

‘In Australia, temporary finance professionals have remained in demand too. Our research shows 17% of employers expect to hire more temporary and contract workers, many of which are sought for longer-term cover, to assist at end of month or year, or to trial a candidate before offering a permanent role.

‘In New Zealand, employers in Auckland and Wellington were also increasing the demand for temporary workers as they are driving greater efficiencies. We expect this demand to continue across accounting functions into the year.’

Isabel Cutts, managing director for Page Personnel Finance, says: ‘Working as a temp can offer many benefits to candidates in the accountancy profession, such as increasing knowledge within a new industry, thus adding to the candidates' skills and industry experience to put on their CV. Temp candidates can help a business improve by bringing their skills and previous industry knowledge, without being tied down in one industry.

‘Being able to add experience from different sectors and company types is one way to show that you do have the right attitude and skills for your career. Having this experience is much more achievable when working as a temp and having the opportunity to explore new industries and company types rather than being tied into a permanent position.’

Funding pressures

However there are a number of potential cons to consider when considering temping and contract work.

As an accountancy professional, working as a temp means you won’t be eligible to receive the funded support and paid leave when taking exams and accountancy qualifications.

Cutts adds: ‘Another downfall of working as a temp is the lack of security from not being in a permanent role, for some candidates not knowing if work is going to be available around the corner can be off putting and perhaps added pressure to find another role should a contract come to an end.’

King adds: ‘Costs and time constraints mean that more often than not, employers are seeking candidates with relevant sector-specific work experience. However, contracting opportunities for new accountants do exist and can be 10 times more useful in gaining practical experience than sitting another exam.’

"Working as a temp can offer many benefits to candidates in the accountancy profession, such as increasing knowledge within a new industry, thus adding to the candidates' skills and industry experience to put on their CV."

Isabel Cutts - Page Personnel Finance