I’ve recently learned that this perception is very outdated. In New York City last week, I sat down with Rebecca Cenni, CEO of Atrium Staffing, to talk about how the new kind of temporary worker is actually a mid-level professional who takes on a short-term consulting assignment in order to bolster her portfolio and fill in the employment gap while looking for a full-time job.
According to Rebecca, large and small organizations are increasingly turning to temporary workers as a way to mitigate the risk of hiring full-time employees in what is still considered a down economy. By working with what Rebecca calls an “applicant-centric” staffing agency, professionals at all levels can assess the market and their individual options.
For many, those options might include a 2 week-3 month short-term assignment at an established company that might be more difficult to break into as a full-timer. During the stint, their benefits would be paid by the staffing agency.
The question I’m sure you’re asking, though, involves how you can turn a temporary assignment into a full-time and more stable job. Rebecca offers these tips:
Understand what you’re getting into
Unlike full-time employees, you will initially lack context regarding how you are expected to perform and why. To combat this, research the company ahead of your assignment and ask your staffing counselor or recruiter to tell you about how to get along in this particular culture.
Act as if the role is long-term
Understand that company is most likely auditioning you for full-time work and be prepared to outshine everyone else. If you hit the ground running and immediately identify ways to make the company more profitable and a better place to work, your management will want to extend your assignment or create a full-time opportunity for you.
Be an ideal employee
Above all things, be flexible. Adapt to changing circumstances without complaining and perform tasks above and below your level. Always act professionally and with integrity, and be solution-oriented. Unless you are specifically assigned a resource, take care of yourself and your own needs.
Master office politics
Learn about the company’s key players and operations by listening carefully to what’s happening around you. Go out of your way to meet networking contacts outside your immediate sphere (e.g. the gym, the cafeteria). Use internal and external social media to sell yourself and your value every day.
Be persistent and political
Don’t allow your staffing counselor or recruiter forget about you while you’re on assignment. Stay on his radar by getting in touch via phone or e-mail every other week or so. When working with someone internally, ask directly about available full-time opportunities. However, tread lightly when applying for positions in other departments. Be politically sensitive and let your current group get first crack at you.