For most, having a “permanent” full time job is a top career priority. Another career path alternative is temporary, freelance, or contract work. Whether you want to call it interim or project work, temp work, or "gig" work, these opportunities give people options for more flexibility, more experience for building their skill sets, and they also provide people with potential paths toward full time employment.
In fact, the temporary staffing world has been growing at a rapid pace. According to the American Staffing Association, more than three million temporary and contract employees work for America’s staffing companies during an average week. During the course of a year, America’s staffing companies hire nearly 17 million temporary and contract employees. Some other interesting facts about the temporary workforce:
- Most (76%) work full time (vs part time), comparable to the overall workforce (82%)
- Half (49%) of staffing employees say it’s a way to get a permanent job
- Nine out of 10 said staffing work made them more employable
- One-third (35%) were offered a permanent job by a client where they worked on an assignment, and two-thirds (66%) of those accepted the offers of permanent employment
- While permanent employment is a top priority for most staffing employees, about one in five cite scheduling flexibility as a key reason for choosing temporary and contract work
- Individual assignments range from a few hours to several years; overall employment tenure averages about two and a half months
- The average wage is more than $17 per hour; some make more than $100 per hour
If you’ve decided to try temporary employment, hopefully you’ll experience some of the many benefits it can bring. It’s up to you, however to maximize the potential that each temp job can offer. Here are eight tips that can help you get the most out of each temp opportunity:
1. Set Some Goals
No matter what your reason is for doing temporary work, find something you can get out of every temp job you take on. There are so many benefits that come from temporary work … beyond just the weekly paycheck. You make new connections that can build your network and can help you in your career. You might work on projects that build your skill set and enhance your resume. You might even land a job offer from the company you’re temping for. You could impress and build a relationship with someone who could become a reference for you. The point here is, set some goals for your temp job, maybe as simple as “I will add 5 new LinkedIn connections as a result of this gig.”
2. Put Your Best Foot Forward
This tip could encompass everything, really, but for today we’re focusing on your outward appearance. “Dress For Success” is a cliché, but it’s a good one because this advice is timeless. Your recruiter will review the required dress code with you, and if you interviewed before you got the temp job, you had a chance to see the company’s dress code in action. Adhere to the dress code. Be well groomed. Look great every day – making a strong impression depends on it.
3. Be Patient and Flexible
Companies use temporary employees for a lot of different reasons, and although we always hope our clients will be ready for our temporary employees, you might find yourself working with little orientation or training. Your desk and computer SHOULD be ready to go the day you start, but they might not be. Your supervisor might be really good at showing you what to do, or you might have to figure it out a little. Take initiative. Ask questions. Take lots of notes. Be patient and flexible; it will be greatly appreciated.
4. Be Reliable
Be on time, all of the time. Be on time for work every day. Be on time for meetings. Be on time with deadlines. Don’t miss work, unless it absolutely can’t be helped and if you have to miss work, provide as much notice as possible.
5. Be a Valuable Member of the Team
Being reliable is one thing, being a valued member of the team is another level. Don’t get caught up in gossip (or office politics), don’t create or participate in drama, don’t create “noise.” Get noticed for helping the team become more high-performing and productive. You don’t want to be noticed for any negative reasons, you want your work and your work ethic to shine through.
6. Be Productive
Most often, companies seek temporary help because they need someone to “hit the ground running.” So, hit it! Stay as productive and focused as possible. Underchallenged? Ask for more work or offer to help others. Have an idea on how to improve a process or project? Share it. Finally, stay focused. Keep off your phone and social media during the work day and demonstrate that you’re there to get the job done.
You will have questions … ask them! If anything seems unclear to you, speak up. Don’t make assumptions and don’t worry that your questions will bother your supervisor. Rely on your recruiter to make your temp experience as smooth as possible. Your recruiter is there to support you and they can help you with any concerns or anything that is confusing or frustrating. A temp job involves three different parties – you, the staffing agency/your recruiter, and your supervisor/the client. Strong communication is critical to success.
8. Manage Your Opportunities
If you’re on a temp job during your job search, you’ll want to carefully balance your commitment to your work with any interviewing activity that you have in progress. Frequent communication with your recruiter helps achieve your job search goals while also avoiding awkward situations regarding your temp job. Try to schedule any job interviews (phone or in-person) for before/after work, during lunch, or early/late in the day. Apply for jobs and respond to job search related emails on your own time. Keep your recruiter apprised if you have any job opportunities that might be getting close to the offer stage. If you do get a job offer that you want to accept, you should give your staffing agency (and thus, the client) two weeks’ notice so that they can find a replacement for you.
The work might be temporary, but the positive experience and benefits can be ever-lasting. Follow these eight tips to maximize your success and you’ll be on your way to experiencing all that temp jobs can offer.