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8 Tips for Surviving Your First Week as a Temp


In a tough job market, many folks are turning to temporary and contract assignments in order to land work in their fields. This is especially helpful for those who are new college graduates or career changers. Temping also has multiple benefits for job seekers.

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Temp jobs are generally plentiful. In fact, many experts believe that temporary assignments are a growing trend that are out shadowing traditional jobs. However, working as a “temp” has its own unique set of challenges that must be overcome in order to be successful.

To help you survive your first week on a new temporary assignment, here are some expert tips from a former staffing manager.  

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Get all the information you need before you accept a job. After waiting weeks for an assignment, it can be thrilling to get the phone call asking you if you would like to work on a temporary project. But wait, before you accept this job, first make sure you ask some important questions. Get the specifics about the assignment including the job requirements, proper work attire, whom you will be reporting to, the shift days and times, length of the project, directions to the location and how you will document your work hours.

Be prepared because anything can happen. As a temp, your job is not only to perform the contracted work, but to be flexible in order to handle any challenges that may present themselves. This means, you may want to bring a snack and a lunch with you, have a notepad and pen handy, and have a backup plan for any child care needs in case you are asked to stay late. You’ll also want to bring along a time sheet and the contact information for your staffing agent.

Arrive at least 5-10 minutes early to the assignment, every day. Getting to work on time is the hallmark of the most successful employees. So too, it’s critical to your success as a temporary worker. Take the time to leave early each day to arrive on time and ready to report to work. Check in with the immediate supervisor or the front desk to be escorted to your new work station. If you have an emergency that prevents you from arriving as scheduled, call the staffing agency immediately.

Wear comfortable, but professional shoes and attire. The workplace is not a fashion show, but it’s not a place to show up looking like you’ve rolled out of bed either. Appearance counts for much when you are a temp, because people will get a first impression from the way you look and how you carry yourself. Get some professional, but comfortable shoes because you may be walking around a lot. Wear well-fitting clothes that flatter your figure, and for women – ditch the heavy makeup, perfume, and oversized jewelry.

Become familiar with the corporate environment quickly. As a temp worker, you can achieve more if you ask good questions and find out what the company stands for. Take time to review the company website and mission statement. Observe the behaviors, attitudes, and mannerisms of the permanent employees. You will be able to leverage this information to conduct yourself well on the job and fit in with the corporate culture, which can help you secure a permanent assignment.

Connect with your co-workers by being friendly and courteous. Often, temps can feel awkward and somewhat shy during the first week in a new assignment. Take the time to smile at people and make eye contact. Be friendly, courteous and helpful. Participate in activities when invited, like having lunch with the other co-workers. Don’t alienate yourself or others soon will.

Complete tasks as they are given to you, and then ask for more. When you are working in a temporary assignment, you will want to complete all the tasks you are asked to do to the best of your ability. Be efficient and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you get stuck. Have a good attitude and be motivated in all your actions and words. Be willing to go the extra mile by asking for additional tasks and keep busy, for this is what hiring managers look for in potential hires.

Follow up with the staffing agency to get feedback on your performance. It can be frustrating as a temp to receive an assignment only to be told a few short days later that you are no longer needed. This is why it’s important to ask for feedback from the staffing agent who placed you. They can work with the client on any potential issues before they reflect negatively on your performance. You’ll be viewed as proactive rather than negative.

Working in a temporary assignment can be highly rewarding and it’s a good bet for “trying on” a job before going into a full time role. Use the above tips to guide you as you navigate through the first week and beyond. You’ll soon find yourself enjoying your assignment more and eventually getting a permanent job when things work out.

Tell Us What You Think

What’s a good tip for landing a temporary assignment, based on your experience? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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Tess C. Taylor
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