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3 Insider Tips for Getting More Temporary Work

By Cathy Reilly

The cold reality of working as a temp is that you are usually dependent upon your staffing service to get you work. Staffing services are often the way to get back to work faster than waiting for a full-time job offer to surface.

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Treat the Staffing Service as Your Employer

The staffing services have the clients who need people to fill their jobs, so the staffing services are the gatekeepers to your temporary employment (which may become permanent). Of course, this is assuming there is market demand for work in your field.

Although staffing services are the vehicle, you are the fuel that makes them go. And, believe me, they need YOU. But, just what kind of fuel are you?

So, focus on the positive, what YOU can do to help the process of finding temporary work, and remember you have two clients to please - the staffing service and their client, the employer.

Here are three tips on getting more work as a temp. (Note: these items will also carry you throughout your career in any status.)

1. Be qualified.

Have up-to-date knowledge and skills.

Make sure your job knowledge and technical skills are current and continually up-dated so you are qualified and will be considered.

If you are out of work now, entering or re-entering the job market, staffing agencies and employers are looking for people with first-rate skills.  You must stay sharp.  Finding employment, including temping, requires your best efforts.

Because being at a level of "qualified" might not be enough . . . read, read, read. Know what’s going on in your specialized industry or job area. Seek ways to increase your knowledge and become a mini-expert about your field so you can present yourself as uniquely well-informed. Obtain certifications if available.

Join your industry association (probably a fee charged to join, which may be prohibitive at the present time, but perhaps not in the future) or join a MeetUp group or groups (which are typically free) to build a network, make contacts, and continue your learning.

Take any relevant or helpful training offered by your staffing service once you get registered. Check out YouTube for training as well. There are thousands of "how to" videos that you can learn from, and many other online sources of additional training, from basic training at KhanAcademy.org to very advanced subjects at MIT OpenCourseware and many other sources at all levels of complexity.

Be prepared for a background check.

A qualified temp is also able to pass a background check by a staffing service or future employer. Make sure there are no issues that will prevent you from passing. Areas that are checked can vary by staffing service or job, but often include a check into your driver’s license, education, criminal and/or credit records. There may also be drug testing that is performed.

If you know there is an issue, be upfront and mention it before the background check/testing has begun. There are times that a conversation explaining the situation makes a difference. If you say nothing, and a problem is discovered, you will likely not even be considered further in the process because of your lack of disclosure.

2.  Be a good "fit" with the staffing service.

Staffing services have many temp candidates to choose from for jobs, and they will always look for the best qualified who are an all-around joy to work with.

Be a pleasure to work with.

Being a pleasure to work with sounds simple enough, and most would immediately respond that they are.

But, you need to be brutally honest here. We all have our quirks and if any of yours show in an interview with a staffing service or while dealing with a staffing service or one of their clients, you may start to become less desirable to them.

Some of these less-desirable quirks can include:

  • Lateness
  • Inappropriate dress
  • Being unreliable
  • Being hard to reach
  • Turning down work too often.

The staffing service is going to be your advocate to their clients, so demonstrate that you are someone who will represent them well and will be partnered with them to support their mission.

Understand your customer (and their customer).

During your interview with the staffing service, ask what qualities they see as ideal in their temps, and what qualities their clients prefer.  Then, do your best to demonstrate those qualities, and leverage that information to yield more work.

Staffing firms want temps who make them look good in front of their clients.

3. Perform and behave with excellence on the job.

Temps who produce high quality work, which is mistake-free, and who take initiative are going to be valued.

Those who provide that something extra are actions that are going to be noticed and remembered. For example:

  • "I arranged the list alphabetically by last name and also by date."
  • "I made you 3 extra copies just in case you might need them."
  • "I left a voicemail and followed up with an email".

Displaying a strong work ethic, which includes on-time attendance (not only in the morning, but at lunchtime and breaks as well), dressing appropriately, positivity, being a generous team player, and adapting quickly to corporate cultures are going to encourage callbacks as well.

Bottom Line

Temps who come prepared to play by the rules and treat job assignments with the care they would extend to a full-time job are all winning approaches. It shows you are serious as a worker - providing a solution and a service, no matter your status (temp vs. permanent). Being a serious worker increases the chances that a company asks for you to return for future assignments, having a temp assignment extended, or having a company provide rave reviews about you to your staffing service.

Any of these will certainly make you more in demand as a temp.

All these items are things within your own control as a temp and set you up for more work through your staffing service. Remember, YOU are the fuel that makes the staffing service go, so make sure you’re offering Premium!

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About the author...

Cathy A. Reilly is the author of The Temp Factor: The Job Seeker’s Guide to Temporary Employment and The Temp Factor: The Complete Guide to Temporary Employment for Staffing Services, Clients, and Temps. For more information about temporary employment, read Cathy’s books, or email her at thetempfactor@aol.com. Follow Cathy on Twitter @cathyareilly, and connect with her on LinkedIn.