The number of temporary workers is rising

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Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2013 12:00 am

If you’re looking for a full-time job, you may not want to hear about temping opportunities.

But for those who have some flexibility and enough need, this might be a great way to get your foot in the door, particularly now that more companies turn to temporary employees to fill gaps.

“We are definitely seeing a shift in the labor market with more businesses relying on temporary employees,” said Dawn Fay, district president for the professional staffing firm Robert Half in New York.

One of Robert Half’s staffing divisions, Accountemps, found in a survey that businesses are using temporary professionals for a range of roles, from standing in for absent employees to filling skills gaps. Some 72 percent of survey respondents said contingent staff helps their organizations access specialized skills on an as-needed basis.

Look at temping sort of like courting. You have an opportunity to really check out a company and share the best of yourself.

Tim Whitney, Dallas-based author of “The Fast Track 50: The Get-Ahead Guide for Temporary Employees,” (Bancroft Press, 2011), says the difference between temps who are hired permanently and temps who are replaced is their ability to immediately step in, know the company’s team-building rules and adapt.

“The quicker you can demonstrate your knowledge and acceptance of these rules, the greater your chance of transitioning into a permanent position,” Whitney said.

Whitney said many temps are stuck on a “temp treadmill.” They bounce from job to job, live with irregular paychecks and inconsistent assignments, and hold little hope of finding a permanent position.

“Then there are the temps who are ready to take the first step on the career escalator,” he said. They have the capacity to change their actions, attitudes and behaviors to quickly fit in with any team.

“When they do, they achieve a higher level of security, which means a regular paycheck, a steady pay rate, possible benefits, and a reduced level of stress,” he added.

If you are considering a temp agency, Whitney suggests that you study your options.

Interview the agencies about placement rates, number of open positions, average hourly rate of placed employees and the number of companies they are serving.

“The agency with the highest number of client companies tends to have the highest placement rate. Start with that agency,” he saids.

Whitney offers more tips:

• Maintain a positive attitude. Employers like workers with a positive vibe. It is virtually impossible to criticize someone who has a great outlook and upbeat personality. On the other hand, no one likes listening to complainers or whiners.

• Understand your role on the team. You must be able to recognize how your position on the team affects others. When you only worry about your job and performance, you will likely fail to understand the impact you have on your co-workers.

• Begin by blending in. The quicker you understand a company’s culture, the quicker you can blend in as part of the team. You always want to be respectful of the company culture. For instance, if the company does something wacky, like start each day with a cheer or stretching exercises, you should participate.

• Volunteer for work. Make sure your hand is the first one in the air when a supervisor asks for extra help. Whether it is an opportunity to learn a new skill, help with training or assist another department, be the one who volunteers.

• Ask your superiors to teach you. Your job as a temp is to have as many positive interactions with your manager as you can. When you ask them to teach you something, you are playing to their basic strengths as a manager. They will remember you as someone who proactively asks for help.

• Make your boss a hero. You need to understand what your boss is trying to accomplish and support his or her positive initiatives. The manager will remember you as a team player.

• Look for opportunities to be a leader. Don’t be afraid to step forward and take the initiative when the opportunity arises.

• Keep notes. Record your on-the-job progress in a journal or diary. Detail the assignments, training and skills that you put to use so that you can build a solid resume.

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