A shares some hard-won wisdom from her experience as a temp.
A while back a friend and I were bonding over our shared (mostly terrible, some brilliant) experiences of temp agencies. I found myself sharing some advice and realised I have a lot of experience of temping! While this has provided me with many an eyeball-roll inducing story, it has also led me to some great jobs and through it, I've met some wonderful people! Bearing all this in mind, I thought it high time I shared my experience with you.
- Don't put all your eggs in one basket. It is a strange fact that temp agencies are staffed with some of the laziest, most useless of consultants, but also some of the cheeriest, most helpful, go-the-extra-mile people you'll ever find. This means there is a certain amount of pot luck to your experience with agencies - to counter this, register with at least three agencies.
- Be persistent. You will call, you'll register, and you won't hear a dickie bird. Don't take this personally. Temp agencies are busy little places that deal with lots of people day in, day out. Keep calling them every few days to check-in - it'll remind them who you are and when something does come up, you'll be the first person they call.
- Be patient. You may think you're the most hireable secretary/ admin assistant/ PA on the planet and that jobs aren't that hard to come by, but take it from me, it just doesn't work like that. But have some patience and the jobs will come.
- First impressions count. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but turning up on time and dressed appropriately smart is essential - no matter the length or swankiness of your assignment. I always err on the side of smartness, figuring it's much less embarrassing being slightly overdressed than appearing shabby.
- Be prepared...for anything! A chat with the agency can never fully prepare you for what to expect at a new assignment, so expect anything! Of all the myriad places I've worked, none have been as expected, but most have at least been a pleasant surprise.
- Most importantly, be confident. The very nature of temping means the usual getting to know your colleagues conventions go out the window. Whether you're in a job for a day, a week, a month or a year, the best way to get the most out of it is to be confident, be outgoing - talk to your colleagues, offer to make the tea, ask questions. I've had some of the most inspiring and challenging conversations of my life whilst temping! This is also the best way to make a good impression and win the chance of being called back, for more work, or even a permanent position!
- But first, coffee. This may just be me, but if I'm going somewhere unfamiliar, it helps me enormously to arrive clutching a hot cup of coffee. Kind of like a comforter, but for grown-ups.