There’s a glorious scene in the second season of the cult 90s sitcom The Larry Sanders Show, where the eponymous talk show host and his staff are gathered to meet the new fiancée of Hank, Larry’s on-screen sidekick, for the first time.
When a smart young woman walks in, Larry immediately takes over, whisking the girl away for a private tour of the set and showering her with silver-tongued compliments. Naturally, the egomaniac TV star doesn’t notice the bemused look on her face.
By the time they return, the real fiancée has shown up and the young lady blurts out that she is in fact from a temping agency. Horrified, Larry drops her hand like the proverbial hot potato while the office manager rushes over to steer the poor girl away, never to be seen again.
The scene brilliantly satirises the myths and misconceptions about temporary workers as faceless commodities, parachuted in when the need arises, and gone again before anyone even bothers learning their name.
Contract workers in high demand
The reality is very different in today’s fast-paced jobs market, where temporary and contract workers are in higher demand than ever – and for good reason. As the economy bounds ahead, many companies cope with rapid growth by recruiting contract workers, consultants and freelancers on a short and medium term basis.
Indeed, it’s estimated that more than one-fifth of all staff in Irish companies today are non-permanent. (In other markets that figure is even higher; the US government, for example, estimates that a whopping 40% of its workforce are non-permanent employees.)
As Ireland’s unemployment rate continues to fall, this trend is only likely to continue. Economic recovery is synonymous with – even driven by – a rise in temporary jobs, and as the Irish recovery strengthens there is no shortage of opportunities for those seeking short term solutions.
Skilled, experienced, well-educated
The type of people taking up temporary and contract work has also changed in a big way. Gone are the days of the one-size-fits-all, admin/secretarial temp like the one Larry Sanders was so keen to get away from in the example above.
These days, your average contract worker is likely to be well-educated (most will have a university degree), highly skilled, and with a wealth of relevant experience that makes him or her an extremely attractive prospect for employers.
In this ‘gig economy’, sectors that are seeing a surge in temp and contract jobs include finance, engineering, pharmacy, hospitality and of course IT where analysts, developers and other specialists are highly sought-after. The huge number of overseas firms in Ireland also means plentiful opportunities for foreign language speakers.
Reasons to be temp-ted
If you have never considered temp work, or feel that you might be too over-qualified or even too old for the contract sector, it might be time for a reappraisal. There are many benefits to taking a temp job in today’s market – here are just a few:
- A temp job is a great foothold if you are looking for work or trying to get back into the workforce (e.g. after a career break or maternity leave).
- Temporary work is an opportunity to build your CV and get some globally-recognised and universally-respected brand names under your belt.
- Once you’re in the door, how you do is up to you – make a positive enough impression on your employer and you may well get offered a contract extension, another temp role or even a longer-term position.
- Temporary work can be a valuable stepping-stone if you want to change career direction or even take time out from work altogether.
- Temp workers often get a very good deal (much better than in years gone by) because the job is for a limited time and also because the employer may not have to invest in the same benefits as for permanent employees.
- For younger people, temp work can be a handy way to get some experience, earn some money, make some friends, learn a language – and when the time is right, move on to the next adventure!
Interested in temp or contract work? Contact us today.
Jane Neilan is Contract & Temporary Manager at Eden Recruitment.