Four Easy Steps to go from Temporary to Indispensable
The reality of our recession is getting harder and harder to avoid. One bright spot to keep in mind, however, is that many companies still have a LOT of work to accomplish, and if one can be malleable enough, contract or “temp” work may be just the bridge you need until things turn around again. In the best case scenario, this can be more than a bridge – it can be an inroad to new opportunities and a new career.
The big question is, “Exactly how does one go from “lemons to lemonade” and get noticed in that “temporary” environment?” Here are the do’s and don’ts that you’ll need to get started.
#1 Let’s start with the obvious. You may be “temporary” help, but you definitely want a full-time attitude Put your best foot forward every day: Be at your desk early, look attractive, don’t do any personal work (or have personal phone calls), and be sure to avoid negativity and complaining at all costs! And remember, your personal life, ideas and problems have no place in the office. Full-time employees are facing a changing environment right now, and having a pleasant demeanor and a warm smile will definitely make you memorable and sought after.
#2 Don’t be bored! Take on as much work as the company will give you. If you find yourself underutilized or with more than twenty minutes of downtime, walk around and see who might need a hand. Remember that your first goal is to stay there long enough to get noticed, and even the receptionist has input about who gets hired, so be as helpful as possible to everyone.
#3 Be a team player. This is not exactly like number two. Pitching in to help the receptionist shows a certain amount of humility and hard-work ethic, but it does NOT showcase your talents. Ask your team leader if you can sit in on project meetings so you can help them as much as possible. Don’t necessarily jump up and down at the meeting and say that you’re the king of spreadsheets or the queen of PowerPoint, but do approach people afterward and offer your expertise where it would be useful. Be as specific as you can on this, and always have work samples available.
#4 Take the time to become as educated as possible on the company, their services and the team that you’re working with. You don’t want to seem boastful or desperate, but you DO want to become indispensable! You may not get that full-time job, but if you’re the expert on how to create the reports that they need or their product-launch SOP, you’ll be the one who gets called back again and again when those situations arise in the future.
Finally, keep one last tip in mind. Thank whomever it was that brought you into the organization. If this was Human Resources, be sure to drop them an email your first day and tell them how impressed you are with the company and grateful for the assignment. If it was a manager, thank them for the opportunity and perhaps offer a brief list your expertise and skills. Remember to touch base with that person very briefly every week or so and just say how well things are going. A little appreciation goes a long way when the only thing that team leaders and HR managers hear every day are complaints and worries.
Catherine Palmiere, Accredited Job Coach, CEIC, CPBA, CPCC, CPC, CTS, CSS