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Office etiquette for temporary workers
It’s your first assignment, but you’re a temp – so that means planning your next move. If you put yourself in an unassailable position you’ll have an edge when you decide to move on. So, how do you secure your place in company history as ‘the temp that got away’?
“First impressions count for double when you’re a temp, because you have less time to convince your manager and colleagues of your worth than when you have a permanent contract,” says Martijn Goudswaard, Managing Director of Page Personnel Netherlands. “It’s why I’m very surprised that temp jobs are sometimes still perceived as ‘less’ than permanent ones. I would say it’s exactly the opposite: as a temp worker you need to be extremely skilled. Rather than an admission of weakness, it’s a sign of professional strength to take on a temp job – because not everybody is up for it.”
So, what do you need to do to leave an impeccable first impression as a temp? These are four key steps.
1. Finely tune your technical skills
First things first, you need to have your technical skills finely tuned, especially those ubiquitous software packages. Word, Excel and PowerPoint are the holy trinity of office applications and you should be an expert at cutting and pasting, Excel formulae and PowerPoint fades.
2. Don’t neglect your soft skills
Soft skills are key for temp workers, with the ability to multi-task and deal with internal and external customers topping the wish list of many employers. As a temp worker you need to walk a fine line between being assertive and becoming too dominant. “If you talk too much, people will find you presumptuous, but if you don’t say anything they will see you as being timid,” says Martijn Goudswaard.
3. Build your reputation
Once your feet are under the table and you’ve impressed everyone with your efficiency and diplomacy, there are a number of ways you can build your reputation even further.
- Ask questions to prove your enthusiasm
- Seek out extra assignments
- Exceed the expectations of your colleagues
- Get to know staff in other departments
- Make sure your supervisor has a copy of your CV
4. Stay positive
Above all, you should remember to stay positive. If your co-workers refer to you as ‘the temp’ when you’re in earshot, don’t let it demoralise you. An upbeat demeanour and grace under pressure will earn the respect of those around you, ensure you have a good overall experience and may even secure you a permanent position – if that’s what you’re after.