Many wonderful and talented people at some point in their life find themselves briefly bereft of permanent employment. They may think that their skills merit far more than temporary work, and that it is quite frankly beneath them. However, as a great philosopher (my mum) once said: "All experience is good experience." It may not make it onto a poster of motivational quotations, but when you find yourself berating what life has thrown at you, it's well worth remembering. So if you are in a metaphorical career desert, ask yourself if any good experience could come from temping. If so, it will probably have a positive effect on at least one of three areas: your time, your CV and your bank balance. Analysing the effect temping could have on each of these, and working out which is your biggest priority should help you find out if temporary work could be worthwhile.
It goes without saying that temporary work takes up your time, so that time should be spent more productively than when you weren't employed. If your unemployment consisted of completing Grand Theft Auto and putting your spice rack in alphabetical order, temping is probably a better option. However, if your unemployment consisted of rewriting your CV, building up a web design portfolio and doing voluntary work, temporary work may actually be counter-productive in the long-term- if your days are spent doing low-paid, low-skilled temping, your web design and skill-building volunteering will suffer.
Temporary work is likely to appeal more to a recruiter than a long gap on your CV, which they rightly or wrongly may assume was spent watching daytime television. Although you may end up doing something you hate, in an industry you have no desire to work in there are always positives to take. Working for a different company, with different people, perhaps using different tools or computer systems can't hurt - ALL EXPERIENCE IS GOOD EXPERIENCE. Ideally, doing temporary work in the industry you want to work in could be your chance to get your foot in the door. The people you meet may well spot your potential in person, whereas your CV might have previously been lost in a mountain of applications on their desk.
Unfortunately most of us have bills to pay. If unemployment just isn't financially viable, temporary work may be an unavoidable detour on the road to wealth and success. If you set yourself a goal of saving a certain amount you may find yourself much more driven to do that menial, soul-destroying temporary assignment.
At the end of the day, it's well worth remembering that your job isn't everything, there is far more to life, and in the long run an unappealing temp job that clears some debt may not be all that bad. As another great philosopher (my uncle) once said: "Don't sweat the small stuff."