Skip to content

Temporary Rock Star: How to be a Great Temp

be a great temp

Temporary Rock Star: How to be a Great Temp

Most people have a pretty good idea of what it takes to be a good team member of an organization. It’s about more than just what you contribute, but how you support your boss, your colleagues, even the greater mission of the company. Understanding the long-term goals and the core values of your employer help show that you are engaged and committed to the long term view.

But what if you’re not in a role with a permanent commitment? What if you found a position with a staffing agency, and it’s only supposed to last six months, or even six weeks? Can you really make an impression?

Yep. You really can – but you do have to adjust your expectations and how you make your contributions.

be a great temp

Here are some ways you can still be a star employee, even if your star won’t shine there for long:

Do your homework, before you start. Even before the first day, you can get ready to be a great temp by learning something about the company, the same way you would before an interview. Go on the website, read press releases, look at recent articles.

You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in Acme by the first day, but you can begin to make a great reputation for yourself if you can speak intelligibly about the company on your first day. The last thing you want is to have to say, “So what do you guys do around here?” Not a good look.

Stay open minded. You’ve been brought in for a specific role, perhaps, and once you’re there, the boss decides to have you take on different responsibilities. Unless you feel it’s something that you can’t handle, don’t balk. Take it on with enthusiasm.

This isn’t about become the best salesperson or the head of the accounting team. Those goals are better set when you have a long time to prove yourself. Instead, show your value by your ability to be great team player, in whichever capacity you’re needed.

Make friends.

[bctt tweet=”It’s like the first day of kindergarten when you start a temp role.”]

You don’t know anyone, you haven’t met anyone to eat lunch with, you are kind of afraid of the teacher.

A new temp role can be just as scary, and it is just as important that you make an effort to meet your colleagues. Don’t let yourself become the temp in the corner. Introduce yourself. Ask questions. Don’t be annoying and force yourself onto people, but making connections will not only help you relax, it will make it easier if you need help.

Ask for help. Speaking of asking for help – do it. Why torture yourself trying to find your way to the sales department floor when you can just ask your new friend? It is a great way to meet new people, and when the role is over, some of those people can serve as references and connections. Besides, you’re there on an hourly basis, in most cases, and no one wants you wasting their time and money by wandering the halls.

Don’t overpromise. To be a great temp, you have to prove yourself pretty quickly, since you aren’t likely to be there for that long. This means you have less time to learn a new skill or make up for a mistake. So, don’t take on something you know you can’t do and figure you’ll just learn it.

If you have been brought in to add value immediately, then blow it out of the water on the stuff you know, and come clean on what you don’t.

Take your time, even if it’s your own. Most short-term opportunities pay by the hour, and your temp agency will tell you the hours you are expected to work. But a great temp won’t arrive at 9:01 and leave at 5:29.

Show that you are taking the role seriously by acting more like someone who has a long-term investment in the job. Show up ten minutes early. Stay a few minutes late some days. People will notice, and they will be grateful that you are willing to go above and beyond when you don’t have to.

Being a great temp means saying good-bye well.

When it’s time to go, don’t push for a permanent role or try to extend the gig. Be a professional. Express your gratitude for the opportunity. Ask if you can stay connected via LinkedIn.

Use your judgment and ask your colleagues or boss if they would be willing to serve as a reference, or give you some feedback, but tread lightly or ask your staffing agency to do it on your behalf. You want to leave them wanting more . . . of you. If they have another role, the best way to get asked to return, is by leaving gracefully.