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Thursday, July 17, 2008

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Take Temporary Positions Seriously

Doing a first-rate job as a temp is a worthwhile investment of your time. Here are some tips:

You may be looking for a temporary job because you are still waiting for the right job to come along. Perhaps you wish to supplement your family income, earn some money while studying part-time or, simply, be gainfully employed.
To truly make the best of your time, treat the company, yourselft and your resume as seriously as if it were a permanent job.
If you are a great temp with an outstanding attitude, people will sit up and take notice of you, and this is always good for networking or creating new prospects for yourself.

Temporary job
Don't feel that temporary jobs are demeaning and unimportant. The fact that the employer is willing to spend money to hire someone shows that he takes the position seriously and believes that the temporary staff can add value to his business.
Do take your application seriously and show that you are the right person for the job. Your resume should be concise, organised and well presented in a widely acceptable format such as a Word or PDF document.
While you do not have to include everything you have ever done, you need to be explicit and highlight the knowledge and experience that is relevant to the job you are applying for. For instance, if you are applying for a temporary accounts position, be very specific about the accounting functions that you used to be in charge of.
Similarly, if you are a fresh graduate applying for a temporary creative position, make reference to any relevant experience acquired during your industrial attachment or school projects, and provide a portfolio showcasing your best work.
A resume that is untidy, lacking in information and obviously unrelated to the requirements of the position only shows that you do not take pride in your own resume and you do not know or care what you are applying for - and hence you are wasting the recruiter's time.

The interview
Don't arrive at the interview late, tell the company that you are not really interested in the job after all, or that you have already committed to another job offer. Be considerate to your interviewer and call to cancel the interview in advance, since he has set aside valuable time to see you personally.
Do find out a little more about the company and the nature of the work so that you know how best to highlight your professional qualities and abilities during interview. Dress appropriately as a courtesy to the interviewer and so that he will see that you are always professional in your outlook.
Be truthful about your experience, the timeframe that you can commit to and your career aspirations. Your employer will appreciate your honesty, and you will not be forced to come clean when they offer you a permanent position that you really do not care for after your temporary stint.

On the job
Don't contribute in any way to the office gossip or comment on the management style of the company, no matter how tempting it may be. You may be leaving in matter of days or weeks, but what you say will be remembered and it will reflect badly on you if your negative remarks were quoted by anyone else.
If you are asked for comments, say something diplomatic but true, or politely decline by saying that you do not know enough about the situation to make a fair judgement. It is certainly better to be silent or, at least, maintain a neutral stand than to be considered to witty for your own good.
Display the same good attitude and commitment you would if you were a permanent staff member. Arrive on time and do an excellent job even when you think no one is looking, so that when the big boss asks who the new face is, your immediate supervisor will be able make mention of you and the good work that you are doing.
If people at the workplace do not take your contribution seriously, it is only because they fail to recognise that you are actually saving them from shouldering the extra responsibilities themselves, over and above their existing workload.
Be sensitive and respect the way things are done - at least for the time being. This is not to say that you have to remain silent and do everything. You can make polite and constructive comments - when you are very certain of the facts.
Keep in mind that there may be reasons for certain procedures and policies that your supervisor or colleagues may not feel at liberty to reveal to you, as they do not foresee that you will stay long.

Exit Strategy
Don't go missing in action suddenly when you want to quit. Instead, give due notice to your supervisor according to the company's expectations.
Thank your supervisor and send a thank-you e-mail message to the interviewer or recruiter at the end of your assignment.
If you found your stint enjoyable and a good learning experience, say so. If you were unhappy, it is in good taste to exit peacefully and amicably anyway. As far as possible, do not give anyone a reason to fault you on your attitude and behaviour.

The Straits Times, CATS Recruit - Thu, June 28, 2007
by Anna Chan, former recruitment consultant, now teacher]

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