Katy Butland and Elizabeth Kinloch, consultants at the Building Recruitment Company, compare the pros and cons of temporary and permanent positions

Permanent positions are obviously more stable, but it is important to make sure the firm you are joining is itself fairly secure in its marketplace. Temporary positions may offer less stability, but longer-term contracts are becoming more frequent and more temporary vacancies are becoming available. By watching the market or informing your agency when you will be finishing, you should be able to go straight from one contract into another.

In a permanent position, there are fewer opportunities to try different disciplines, although you can, for example, be seconded to other departments or take on extra responsibilities. In contrast, temporary positions offer you the chance to test the water in various sectors. By taking on short-term contracts, you can get experience in the public and private sectors, helping you to discover which area suits you best. The downside is that your work colleagues may perceive you as "just the temp".

Some people thrive on pressure; others collapse under the weight of it. In permanent employment, there is always the pressure to perform in order to keep your job. On the upside, you don't have the worry of your contract ending shortly. In temporary positions, although you are unlikely to experience the same amount of pressure as your permanent colleagues, you must always be looking towards the next job.

Temporary workers tend to get paid at a slightly better rate than permanent staff, but at the expense of stability

For permanent workers, being flexible can mean going that extra mile for your employer – coming in early, staying late and taking on extra work. For temporary workers, flexibility is all about finding work that fits in with your needs. You may want a certain length of contract or to work part-time, options that are sometimes unavailable in a permanent job.

<B>Training and opportunities</b>
Training is more likely to be offered in a permanent post, as the employer will see this as a way in investing in the future of the firm. Companies may offer courses in areas such as health and safety and AutoCad. For temporary workers, training opportunities are more limited. But flexible working conditions mean you can make your own arrangements.
In terms of opportunities, new jobs tend to be offered to permanent employees before being advertised in the press, giving staff an advantage. However, as a temporary worker, it is easier to apply for other roles: employers are more willing to let temporary workers have time off from work as they will only be paying you for the hours you work.

<B>Salary considerations</b>
Temporary employees tend to get paid at a slightly better rate than permanent staff, but this is at the expense of stability. Permanent work offers the security of a guaranteed salary, benefits – such as a contributory pension and a company car – and yearly increments. However, temporary workers now have more rights than they used to, including holiday pay and access to stakeholder pensions. Weigh up your needs before you decide which route you want to take.