Monday, August 8, 2011

Guide To Being The World's Best Temp Ever

Almost all of my entire professional employment has been in Government Departments through temp agencies. I am constantly asked by my friends (in Australia and overseas) what temping is really like, and how to ensure you will get work. I'm not an expert, but here are my tips, based on my own experience. (I'm not a consultant for any of these agencies, I just have my preferences.)

Accept any job offer.
This is the Golden Rule I learned: I figured out if I said yes to any job they offered, no matter where I lived (I was usually about an hour away from the job) they would always call me. There was always a way to get there. There's public transport, cabs, family members, hell, even if you are strapped and it's very last minute, the agency might reimburse you for the cab ride. Especially if they know how far away from the role you are.

Keep calling.
Seriously, they love it when you do. Call them 2-3 times a week. Go to the website, apply for jobs on there and then call the contact officer straight away just to 'confirm they received it'. You know they received it, you got the confirmation email, but if you call them, they hear your voice, they know your real, they know you can communicate well and you have a pleasant phone manner. If you don't call them to let them know you are mad keen for anything (legal anyway ha-ha) they won't know you are and will give the job to someone else. It makes them remember your name.

Be punctual.
Turn up early every single day, not just the first day. Early bird catches the worm. Get yourself a coffee and wait for the others to arrive. I'm not saying get there 45 minutes early - that's just crazy, I'm talking 15 minutes early. They want you to be at your desk at 9, not entering the building at 9. This looks really good - especially if you haven't been in the workforce long.

Look professional.
All you really need is to wear nice black or grey trousers/or a pencil skirt (depending on weather) and a pretty top (if you're a girl!). Wear a suit jacket on the first day. If they tell you it's okay to not wear a suit - just go smart casual. Even if they say it's really casual, go smart casual. You will get a good rep, they know you're serious and you'll feel better about yourself if you turn up dressing nice. I personally hate dressing down for work even if others do. It puts you in a 'work mode' mind set. I often wear something that I can wear to work and then feel comfortable and nice in if I am invited to a quick 'drinks after work session'. This usually means nothing too low cut or obviously 'nightclubby'. Notice what you see others at the workplace are wearing (but don't write down every single detail). Be smart about it.

Shop around.
I was signed up with 3 temp agencies. I found in some jobs if I was with a particular agency and there were other temps there from other agencies - I would sign up with those as well. Temping can be competitive and the more places you are signed up with the better chances you have for work. I'm fiercely loyal to the gang at McArthur Management Services as they offered me job after job after job. Pay tends to go higher the more you work for someone as well. Although, I also found out the more you are paid - the worse the work is. I was also signed up with Dixon and another consultant whom I adore who moves around a lot. They are my favourites if you want work in Melbourne. They do follow through and remember who you are!

Brush up your skills.
Every agency you go to will make you sit through a 45 minute testing session. They'll make you do a typing test for speed & accuracy, and a Microsoft Office test. Try and do some practise ones at home on your own computer. You can buy the software for them or you can do online tests. Practise makes perfect after all.

Write down everything you do.

If you are in a job for 3-6 months, you have every right to use them as a reference for future use. In every single job you do, write down Every Single Thing You Do. Even if it's sending emails to staff ('forwarding messages via email') or photocopying ('reproduction of documents') etc etc. If there is a job description for your assignment, write down everything from that as well. Add these to your cv. I worked for the Australian Government but in various departments. I wrote down every single unit I worked for and wrote the majority of tasks I did. This way, when you go to apply for jobs, you won't have to try to hard to remember what you have actually done!

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