Money & Career

The art of temping

Author: Canadian Living

Money & Career

The art of temping

If you're looking for work and are unsure where to start, consider temporary employment. Whether you're just joining the work force, suddenly find yourself unemployed or are looking for a flexible work schedule, temping can be a great workaround.

Getting started
Start by perusing the placement and employment pages in the Yellow Pages. You can determine an agency's reputability by reviewing their client list. The interview process is fairly painless, typically entailing a meeting, and computer and typing tests. Many agencies also act as headhunters and may be filling full-time placements as well.

While most agencies focus on providing general administration support, there are placement agencies dedicated to just about every industry. Also, in order to increase your chances of getting placed, you may wish to sign up with more than one agency.

Be prepared
On a typical day, you should wake up early and be prepared to work anywhere, doing anything. The agency will generally call you for day work between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. If you haven't heard from them, call in. You may not get a gig for that day, but you may get one for the next.

Once you've received your orders, head out quickly. If a company has requested a temp, they obviously need immediate relief.

At the site, the assignments are generally benign – reception, photocopying, collating and data entry. At the end of the day, ensure that you get your timesheet signed by the appropriate person. Also, keep track of your hours and the companies you've worked at.

Page 1 of 2 -- Find more tips for working with a temp agency on page 2

Dress appropriately
While most offices are now business casual, it's better to be overdressed than underdressed – you'll look more professional and so will your agency.

Take notes
In addition to being prompt, carry a notebook and pen for creating "cheat" sheets and notes. These scribbles can prove invaluable when being bombarded by dozens of phone calls and couriers. Additionally, you may want to keep your notes in the likely event that you are placed at the same company again. You'll be able to wow them when, two months down the road, you recall that the CEO prefers herbal tea to coffee.

Be a help, not a hindrance
Always pay attention and be proactive. As a temp you're expected to fulfill a role and provide support, not create more work and confusion. However, don't be afraid to ask questions or request help.

Avoid office politics. If an employee approaches you and begins to complain or vent, resist the urge to participate. Simply go in, smile and do your job.

Use temping as a stepping stone
Temping is a fantastic way to test drive various industries, companies and corporate cultures -- a critical perk if you're fresh out of school or looking for a change.

While the pay is typically on the lower end of the scale ($10 to $15/hour), the networking potential is invaluable and you may gain access to internal job postings. If you are looking for something more permanent, it can be a conduit to a contract or full-time gig. Plus, the possibility of "owning" your own work schedule is perfect for people who desire flexibility.

So go forth and temp – you never know where you may wind up as a result.

Read more:
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The art of temping

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