9 tips to make the most of your temp job

By Mary Ellen Slayter

Temp work has long been an effective way to bridge the gap between full-time jobs. Many workers also appreciate the flexibility and the opportunity to test drive different employers.

Nearly 70 per cent of respondents said they would consider taking a temporary job, given the current state of the economy, in a recent poll by Monster. Here are nine of our favourite tips for making the most out of your life as a temp:

  1. Go with a gig that matches with your goals. ’Always be thinking strategically about your career,’ says human resources expert Laurie Ruettimann. The short-term benefit of a temp job is the pay cheque, but you also need to make sure you’re getting the long-term benefit that comes from gaining knowledge, skills, abilities and relationships.
  2. Take the idea of ‘flexibility’ with a grain of salt. ’Not all temp jobs are flexible,’ warns Ruettimann. ‘That’s a myth.’ Often temporary positions are pretty rigid, time-bound and measured. They expect you to be there, work hard and when that job is done it’s over.
  3. Give it your all. ’I would recommend that temporary workers approach each task, project or assignment with the same diligence, commitment and drive as a full-time job,’ says Abby Locke of Premier Writing Solutions. ‘Arrive on time every day with a positive attitude and demonstrate your willingness to work hard and go the extra mile. If you find that you are able to get through your regular routine tasks pretty quickly, speak up and volunteer your help in other areas.’
  4. Know who you can’t be. ’If you are replacing a specific person for a period, you can’t be them,’ says Gordon Veniard, a professional trainer and coach with thevenworks.com. ‘Who you can be is the person who is doing that job for a period to the best of your ability. And then, they might ask for you back again later.’
  5. Don’t be a pest. Even if the employer has hinted that your temp gig could turn into a permanent placement, don’t pester your supervisors and co-workers for status updates, says Ruettimann. ‘Work through your temporary agency instead of bugging the people on site,’ and be aware that it’s unusual for a temp job to become permanent in less than 90 days. At that point the temp agency has made money on the placement and won’t charge the employer a fee for hiring a temp into a permanent job.
  6. Develop new skills. ’Take extra steps to learn new technologies, systems, applications or programs,’ says Locke. A temp job is a good way to build up your portfolio by learning, building relationships and practicing skills you may have never used, says Ruettimann.
  7. Document your accomplishments. Unlike permanent employees, temps don’t get performance reviews, but you should track your accomplishments anyway and turn them into a ‘portfolio of your contributions,’ says Ruettimann. Save emails that praise you and note your successes so you have a good case, if the employer decides it needs someone on a permanent basis.
  8. Work on your network. You may not get hired by your temporary employer, but while you’re there you have a great opportunity to work on your network, says Ruettimann. The people you meet may be able to introduce you to other great contacts and opportunities.
  9. Ask for feedback. ’At the end of your temporary work, schedule time to talk with the manager and solicit constructive feedback; this effort will show that you are serious about your career and your contributions,’ says Locke. ‘Inquire about the opportunity to work with the organization again, ask for job or other temporary work referrals, and more importantly, get recommendations from the manager and other key employees you worked with and supported during your tenure.

This article first appeared at Monster.com