Ongoing Insights on Temporary Employment:
What Employers Are Looking For
By: Michelle Metzger, Human Resource Specialist
There are many reasons that employers call a staffing agency seeking someone to work for them temporarily. The most common seem to be:
- To cover an existing employee’s medical leave
- To assist with, or free up, resources for a project
- To assist with a peak busy season
- To cover a vacant position until it is permanently filled
There are benefits of considering temporary assignments even if your ultimate goal is regular, on-going employment. Benefits of employment include:
- The chance to experience different work environments/settings and determine in which you work the best
- The opportunity to learn new skills
- The prospect of enhancing your current skill sets (particularly important if you have been out of work for awhile)
- The potential to gain valuable work experience – especially if you are early in your career
- The opportunity to explore different career fields, industries, and organizations without penalty if it is not a good fit
- The chance to grow your network
- The schedule flexibility
- The opportunity to prove what a valuable employee you can be
Once you’ve decided to pursue temporary work, be it until you find an on-going position or to work solely in temporary positions, it is important to know what an employer is looking for in a temporary worker. The keys to being successful in temporary employment are to be skilled, be present, be helpful, and be pleasant.
When an employer calls with a temporary staffing need, they frequently require a specific skill set. This could include skill with specific software (QuickBooks, Excel, Adobe), experience in a certain industry (IT, manufacturing, banking), or specialized knowledge (HR, payroll, IT). Because of these needs, not just anyone will do. It is imperative to match an employee with the knowledge, skills, and experience that a temp position requires. Our temps take a variety of assessments and are given an in-depth interview so we can place them in positions in which they have the best chance of success.
Temporary staffing is a financial investment for employers. Not only are they paying the temp’s hourly salary, but they cover the agency’s fees and all payroll taxes and insurance. For an employer to be willing to pay this premium, the value to the employer is in having the temp in the workplace each day of the assignment. While skills and knowledge are critical to the success of a temp assignment, dependability, attendance, and punctuality are equally significant.
There are cases where an employer may know they need a temp, but are unsure of what to have them do. If you find yourself in a temp assignment where the employer may not know how to commence orienting you, take the initiative. Ask where break rooms and restrooms are; ask where you can put your coat and what the “usual” office practice is for lunches and breaks. Volunteer to pick up additional responsibilities or small projects you have noticed around the office. Feel free to discuss other skills or experiences you have that the client could further benefit from. This could lead to more fulfillment for you or potentially a longer assignment if the client has the need for your other skills.
Sometimes it can feel a little awkward for the client and their staff to have a stranger assume a temporary position. It helps both parties if the temporary employee is pleasant and approachable. Introductions help smooth the way for positive working relationships. Present yourself well and view the interactions with these new people as networking. You never know what doors could open from your relationships with your temporary co-workers and supervisors. Some rules of thumb are to avoid gossiping with coworkers, bring any real concerns to your manager, and to always remain professional.
Whether you are in a transitional phase of your career, or you have decided to make a career out of temping, it is important to know what employers are looking for in a temporary worker.
Hint: These standards are what employers look for in their on-going employees as well.