Is Office Temping A Good Job For Actors?
Office Temping & Reception work is a very popular choice for lots of actors as a Temp Job, particularly for women it seems.
Despite the fact that I might as well be permanently plugged in to the Matrix as well as get actual pleasure out of organising and managing an office environment (yes I am weird) I have actually never done any office temping or receptionist work at all.
Luckily for me, my good friend Laura Darton has done a lot so for this weeks post I enlisted her help in filling in the blanks for me and giving us the inside track on what it takes to make ends meet with Office Temping.
Skill Required – Score 6/10
You’d think that working as a receptionist or office temp would be all about the office skills, right? Well often this is not so.
Yes, it absolutely helps to know your way around a computer but being an office temp is a lot more about representing the ‘face value’ of the company you are working for.
The main thing I’ve found, being female, is that the big temp agencies in London place much more emphasis on appearance than they do on your skills and abilities. As long as you can turn up with a smart suit, heels and a made up face temp agencies will usually sign you pretty easily no matter your skill set.
With actual receptionist work this can vary a bit and more skill is usually involved to be able to manage things with whatever business operating system the desk is using but more often than not full training is provided.
The main thing with receptionist work is that you are a decent, approachable and friendly person. Nobody wants a Resting Bitch Face running their front desk!
Rate Of Pay – Score 5/10
In your initial interview for a temp agency they will usually ask you to tell them what your minimum requirements are for the temp work you will accept.
The more experienced you are the more you can usually expect to get paid. Sometimes you even have the opportunity to step into a Team Leader or Supervisor role for a higher fee.
The general rate of pay for temping and receptionist work starts at about £10 an hour. Most companies will just want to pay a flat fee for any-old temp to cover a shift. For highly skilled, experienced or specialist work I have seen this go up to as much as £17 an hour but remember that whatever agency you work for will actually take a commission out of whatever total you earn.
This can vary greatly – anywhere from 5% to 20% for some agencies so it really pays to do your research before you sign up to one of the “hottest” agencies on the block.
Monthly Earning Potential – Score 6/10
If you end up being liked by your agency then you can expect to pick up pretty solid hours from month to month, even full time if you want to. But the key phrase here is “end up being liked”.
Note from Jason: Sound’s a lot like Promotions and Luxury Retail. It can take a while to rise to the top and get into the agency’s good books and sometimes you just might never end up one of the favorite’s which can leave you really scraping the barrel for consistent shifts.
Once you do make a bit of a name for yourself as someone dependable however, you can earn a pretty decent pay packet. At a standard rate of about £10 an hour working pretty close to full time you could be looking at £1600 a month which is pretty decent right?
Just remember that your agency will take a commission on this and, because you are “employed” as a temp, they will also take a further 20% for the tax man! In the end a more realistic take home pay would be about £1200 for full time hours.
All in all it’s pretty decent money if you can commit to full time hours. Less impressive if you only want to work part time.
Flexibility – Score 7/10
This is where receptionist and office temp work really shines. It’s called “Temping” for a reason; you are a temporary member of staff.
If you cant work one day or get an audition with seriously short notice just call up the agency and they will easily have someone who will replace you.
Even if you can only work the morning or afternoon session of a shift it’s normally okay – they’ll just get someone else to work the other half.
Temp agencies generally have tons of people on their books and will always be able to find someone else to do a shift. That being said, if you earn a reputation for being a total whizz with juggling the photocopier, completing databases and sending 50 emails per hour your agency will want you to work more and more, making you feel a little more obliged to keep to your work hours.
However this is where Office Temping and Receptionist work differ the most. With reception work you will be on a rota system with the other members of staff and so there is a much stricter schedule to stick to. If something comes up then unless you can do a straight swap with another member of your team then you might have to pull a sickie to get the time off for that audition. Not ideal.
Ease Of The Work – Score 8/10
With office temping you don’t have to accept a posting that is outside of your skill set. Every time you get offered a job you will be given a brief to read with the requirements of that job and you can either accept it if you feel comfortable or not.
Most basic office temp work is just photocopying, filing, basic Microsoft Office tasks and Calendar management. Nothing that will break your back or your brain.
Receptionist work is a little more structured. You usually have a checklist of tasks to do for the day in chronological order with another list of side tasks to do if and when you have time during the day. Things like making and receiving phone calls, confirming diary appointments, checking function room bookings, checking in and checking out guests if it’s a hotel, taking stock.
The most important part of your job is to remain consistently personable, you need to be the nicest person your companies clients will meet that day, whether you’re still starving from that dodgy salad you had a lunch or not.
Consistency Of Shifts – Score 5/10
Again, the clue is in the title.
Some companies will find you work with notice to start and how long the placement’s duration is, others will ask you for your availability for the following week and you’ll be expected to be up and ready for work at 7am every day on the off-chance they find you a shift.
This can be annoying as you could be breakfasted, fully dressed and ready to go at 7am yet not receive a phone call, meaning you lose out on a day of work regardless of the fact that you were ready and waiting.
It can be a sweet deal if you end up covering for maternity leave because you know you have consistent shifts for 6 weeks but can still call up last minute and expect the agency to cover you. But without this you do risk not being able to guarantee you’ll earn what you need each month.
Receptionist work again differs here – because you work on a rota you are pretty much guaranteed shifts a week sometimes even two weeks in advance. Generally this doesn’t change from week to week which means you can rely much more on how much you can expect in your account each week.
Wait To Start Earning Money – 5/10
Getting hired by a temp agency is pretty easy. You just send them a CV, fill out their introductory forms and give them your availability and that’s it.
It can be a slow start getting work with a new agency especially if you’re starting completely fresh with no previous experience.
Clients who need a temp to fill in one or two days want their working lives to go on as normal so they won’t want a newbie joining them who needs a lot of hand holding. If you have a lot of experience and skill however you can find yourself in work pretty immediately and might even find yourself turning down work because you have what you need.
The trick at the start is to remember that you can be on the books of more than one agency at a time so if one agency can’t find you a shift one of your others might be able to.
Receptionist work usually has a more formal recruitment process, especially for permanent positions where you usually go through an interview process for the company to find the person they want to be the “face” of their office.
You will get an official start date in advance of the work which means you will be able to plan your life around it however with this type of work the pay is almost always monthly which can mean it takes ages for the first pay check to come through if you get hired mid month.
Overall Score – 42
A fairly solid choice overall. Nothing to write home about and certainly not going to break the bank.
It beats out Bartending & Front Of House on the rate of pay, and knocks out Teaching on skill required and ease of the work but doesn’t quite make it past Entertainment Events which has the highest pay and ease score so far.
What do you think?