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If working be the food of love, temp on’


‘Why don't you set up a marriage bureau – you’d make a fortune?’ That question has hung in the air around me for 40 years.

Zoe Cave, one of our multi-talented leaders, makes a light-hearted investigation into the mindset of candidates and clients during the selection process –with hilarious insights. Parliament and schools are out – enjoy this fun piece.

Long gone are those halcyon days where you settle down with a job for life. Now it’s all about that ‘just for now job’. Sure, it probably won’t last (hey, you might even leave it off your CV). But you’re having a great time, a real hoot and isn’t that what life is all about? At least it’s putting a roof over your head (just). Anyway, the very best thing about this ‘just for now’ job is it’s totally taken your mind off that awful bore of a job you were last with, I mean in for three years. Safe, predictable and parents were very approving. But you’re pretty sure you were asleep for half of it.

Feel like you’ve heard this before? Jobs these days are kind of like dating. We’re expected to be nothing short of totally emotionally committed. God forbid you have a 9-5 pays-the-bills arrangement. Instead it’s got to be unique, inspiring, life-changing. It’s so much more than a contractual agreement. It’s about feeling satisfied, it’s about being fulfilled and it’s definitely about being happy.

Interviewing can be as much of a minefield as dating too (or is dating as much of a minefield as interviewing…). The ones who look great on paper aren’t quite what you had in mind once you’ve scratched a little at the surface. That big brand that you’ve heard such good things about seems to be ‘the one’ at first glance. It’s got it all; progression, longevity, not to mention the benefits (private health care, 360 degree views of the city, office dog!) You arrive and are met by your interviewer, and she isn’t a day over 21. You take a seat in the Kansas themed meeting rooms on the cactus shaped bean-bags, and get ‘chatting’. The interviewer doesn’t look at your CV once, definitely can’t remember your name and seems much more interested in your energy and vibes than anything you achieved in your last job.

You could make this work, couldn’t you? You could wear trainers day to day and ride a scooter between meeting rooms, right? Who are you kidding; you’re twin set and pearls all the way. Ripped jeans are for gardening and your idea of a break-out-zone is spotty skin. But then again, are you really going to let that big brand be the one who got away? And wouldn’t you just love it if all those ex-colleagues saw your name and that big brand pop up on their LinkedIn?

Coming out of that interview, you’re reminded of a different company from two weeks ago. The one that offered you everything on the spot. You were too fickle to commit; plenty more fish in the sea and all. The website was totally dated, and the offices, positively dingy (still can’t work out if it’s the coffee machine or the receptionist’s lunch box that gave it that smell). And yet. And yet, there was something about that one that you just can’t put your finger on. Your values were the same, you shared the same goals, and when they took you on a tour of the office to meet the team, it just felt… right.

But with a new beginning there’s also an ending. You have to do the unavoidable, unspeakably awful…resignation (also known as the professional break up). You send the email with the subject ‘Have you got 5 minutes?’ Your palms are sweaty and their stomach drops when you begin to explain:

‘It’s been a great three years but, I think we both know things haven’t been right.’

‘Are you handing in your notice?’

‘It’s not you, it’s me. I want different things and we’ve grown apart’

‘Just before the Christmas party? How will we tell the team?’

And then come the questions, ‘Is there someone else? I can change! I’ll give you anything you want - a raise? More responsibility?’

But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how good that counter offer is. It’s just plastering over the cracks. You ride off into the sunset, bursting with optimism about this new opportunity. You hope that when you look back at your CV, you’re not wearing rose-tinted glasses.

So let’s say my flawless theory is true: we’re in a relationship with our job. So where does that leave temping? Well, it’s the speed-dating of the job world. You can have two at a time, be setting up the next whilst still getting your hands dirty with the current. It’s zero hours, zero commitment but with the possibility of £20 per hour, you can really cash in. Not forgetting temp to perms. It’s your free and easy chance to ‘try before you buy’. The interview was relaxed and everyone was at ease because you know it’s ‘only temp’. It starts as an open relationship with both parties probably still carrying on the odd illicit first stage interview. But then, six weeks in, both employer and employee confess how they really feel. Contracts are signed. Sparks fly, it’s the perfect chemistry.

Careful not to overlook the ongoing temp though. The carefree, truly 21st century couple. Both are happy to temp forever and it’s based purely on trust. They probably stopped interviewing some time ago, but hey there’s not need for the chat because when you know, you know.

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