The Hidden Potential of Working Temporary Jobs

September 21st, 2012

What’s so great about doing temporary work?  Where do we begin!  For starters, it’s becoming so popular that there’s lots of it out there!  There has been a recent surge in demand for contract employees.  At the moment, it’s really impossible to tell if this is the next trend in employment or if it’s simply part of the transition of economic recovery.  Either way, the uncertain economic times have caused many employers to fill positions with temporary employees.  This path never actually promises to give you a permanent job up front, but it still has potential to yield great returns.  You’re likely to bump into these jobs while job hunting, and before skipping past them, consider a few of the benefits that you could encounter working on temporary assignments.

Get your foot in the door
You may be tired of this age-old concept by now but its importance is real!  Since employers are operating in somewhat uncertain times, they often will need a job done but at the moment aren’t sure that it will be a permanent job.  They bring in a temporary employee and just take things from there.  Sometimes the assignment begins and ends as scheduled.  In other situations, the job ends up being a permanent need and the temporary associate finds him or herself in the right place at the right time—another often-used phrase but one that also has merit!  And then there are times when an associate’s assignment is temporary but he or she networks and finds a permanent job within the company and transitions into that!  Sometimes all it takes is the chance to prove yourself to an employer and an introduction to the right people.

You’re in transition
Perhaps you are looking for your big career or have plans to begin a new academic program in the near future.  But what do you do between now and the beginning of your job or schooling?  After all, you probably have bills to pay.  But even if you don’t, doing nothing while you play the waiting game could get old rather quickly.  If you’re looking for a permanent job in a specific field and know that it’s going to take a while, there is a good chance you can do some temporary work that will allow you to make money, keep your resume active, and still allow time for you to pursue your search for permanent work.  Just discuss the details with the staffing service so they know what’s going on and can factor that into their search.

And the same goes for you if you’re waiting for school to start.  During the interview at the staffing service, let them know when you plan to start school so they know how long your assignments can last.

Gain experience
Last but not least, this can be a chance for you to gain experience.  Of course, some temp jobs will require seasoned skills, so those may not be an option.  However, if you’re open to entry-level work, staffing services can truly be an asset.  Successful completion of assignments not only gets experience on your resume but also helps you prove your ability to the staffing service.  Naturally, this proof of your work ethic and skills also increases chances that the staffing service will be able to find more work for you.  Before you know it, your resume is filled with marketable professional experience, and you’ll be ready to move up into high-level work and a rewarding career!

Is Courtesy in the Workplace Becoming Extinct?

September 14th, 2012

In his article, “Bring Courtesy Back to the Workplace,” Ron Ashkenas talks about a growing problem—the effects of dwindling human interaction.  But in a sense, this goes even beyond lack of communication and respect within the office.  How many times have you been walking around and had people refuse to hold a door open for you?  Or even worse, you make eye contact with someone and say hi only to have them continue walking without acknowledging your existence?  Is all of this really due to the increased level of electronic communication?  Who knows!  But it seems logical that a decrease in personal contact could eventually affect our ability to interact with one another.

So bringing this back to Ron’s original discussion, he certainly suggests some good ideas on how to address the issue head-on.  However, what do we do if this is not a subject that demands the attention of management in the office?  Not every worker is in the position to call a meeting together to discuss the matter.  And further, this trend doesn’t just exist between coworkers.  Unfortunately, it also can exist with clients or other individuals from outside the company with whom we communicate.  So what does one do?

As in most cases, change starts with you!  Let’s face facts; digital communication is here to stay. So instead of blaming the problems on that, how about we instead find ways to personalize and humanize these communications with others—always remembering that an email or voicemail is connected to a real live person.  In the past, we’ve offered some email tips and phone etiquette advice.  These will help get you started on how to communicate respectfully in many different types of situations.  But in short, remember that response to an inquiry is rather important, even if it’s just to say that you don’t have time today but will have an answer tomorrow.  It’s just enough contact to acknowledge the individual and it maintains the human connection.

And there are other small things, too!  When you see a colleague first thing in the morning, say hi!  Wish people a good evening or good weekend on their way out the door.  And on the phone or in email, add the same nice touches!  Last but not least, “please” and “thank you” are both pretty amazing.

At this point, it’s probably a good idea to mention that the process may take a while. Some colleagues aren’t going to be as aware of the problem as you are so they may not notice all the great things you’re doing.  Ultimately, some will eventually notice and return the favor.  Others may never step out of the zone they are stuck in.  To an extent, you may have to find your own sense of joy in reaching out as a real live human without depending on others to reciprocate.  But another bonus is that this new approach often opens one up to human connections at home, so you may find yourself aware of a whole new wonderful world that suddenly exists with family and friends, too!