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What makes a good temp, and what temping could do for your career…

As part of I am recruiting’s Temp of the Year 2018 competition, Julian Smith takes a look at the ingredients of a great temp, and what working as a temp can do for your career.


I’m glad I didn’t have to judge the Temp of the Year 2018 competition. Where to start? How do you begin to evaluate the temp who started on a £21K salary and was promoted to a manager two months later or another temp in a different organisation who was brought in for a little admin support on a small research project and will now have their name on an international research paper? Or the temp whose support was deemed so critical her organisation restructured the department around her to keep her on a permanent basis? Or the candidate who went into a membership department at short notice and started eliciting phone calls and emails singing his praises to the Head of the department within a week? It’s not easy, when there are so many unsung heroes to choose from.


Of course, what they all have in common is the fact they’ve gone the extra mile. Take Lucas, winner of Temp of the Year 2018 as an example. In her nomination, Dr Stephanie Tempest of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists wrote “In his temporary role, Lucas took on discreet projects and delivered above and beyond my expectations.  His fresh eyes and creative talent – coupled with his work ethic and high standards – were an immediate benefit to the team.” As a result of going the extra mile, Lucas secured a permanent job he really enjoys in a field he’d never even contemplated before.


Going the extra mile is one of the qualities that makes our temps stand out. I’m not bragging when I say that, because I’m not taking credit for their abilities – although I do think our skill lies in picking excellent temps! By going the extra mile, you get to do more. Lucas actually started as a temp in a membership role in the same organisation, and by going the extra mile in that role too, he earned the right to be considered for a role in the professional standards team. He proved that he was capable of so much more than he had initially been employed to do and was given the opportunity to demonstrate this – which is partly why he really is a worthy winner of the accolade of Temp of the Year 2018.


We should look to Luz, runner up in the competition for other qualities which makes a great temp. Nicola Emerson of the Royal Statistical Society sums it up perfectly, when she says Luz “had very little idea about the organisation or what was required from her, but she did not let that phase her.  From her very first day, Luz demonstrated her amazing ability to remain cool, calm and above all, cheerful – even in the most trying circumstances.”


Temps should remember that they are going in to an organisation, sometimes as a last resort, to cover unexpected illness, or to replace somebody who hasn’t turned up for work. They are likely to encounter a little chaos, a little stress and a lot of uncertainty – and the ability “to remain cool, calm and above all, cheerful” is prized above most other things, so let’s add these qualities to our checklist of what makes the perfect temp.


Temping, as both Lucas and Luz have demonstrated, is often the perfect way to secure a permanent role, but not necessarily in the same role in which you start off temping. Daniel, one of our previous temps went from a two-week data entry assignment to a permanent policy officer whilst Erica went from being a temporary PA to a permanent Project Manager; at the time that we placed both candidates as temps, there were no expectations on either side that the booking would continue beyond the initial brief assignment. What both Daniel and Erica did, like countless others before them, was prove their abilities, and increase their prospects of future employment.


So here’s to the unsung heroes, and the opportunities they create for themselves. I think Nicola Emerson sums up not just Luz or even Lucas, but also Theo, Daniel, Erica, Barbara, Liliana, Aston, Heather, Hannah, Sachin, Charlotte, Sofia, Helen, Andrea and all of our other wonderful temps, past and present in her closing remarks: “one of Luz’s attributes is being able to see what needs to be done without being asked: within a matter of weeks we wondered how we had ever managed without her.”


Good recruitment agencies will have a pool of temp workers ready to spring into action. To join the ranks of our unsung heroes here at I am recruiting, please do get in touch!

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