Career Advice Career Guidance and Counselling

Survival as a temp

The number of temporary assignments is rising. Employers are embracing headcount flexibility, managing workload peaks and hiring specialist help for projects and to cover leave. But how do you ensure your career gains the greatest benefit? Here is some advice on how to survive a temporary assignment and get the best results for your career.

On the first day, arrive at least 10 minutes early. As always, it is important to make a good first impression - look, act and dress like a professional. Preparation is the key to success, so know who to report to and the tasks you're likely to undertake.

Remember to show respect for the company's policies, procedures and culture. The expectations of temporary and contract workers are often higher than those of full-time colleagues, so if you finish one task, don't sit there with nothing to do. Go to your supervisor and ask for another.

Don't hesitate to ask questions if necessary. Temporary workers are hired for their experience and skills, but you don't have to be an expert at everything.

Manners at work matter - try to consider others in the office by not leaving your mobile phone on or using the work telephone or e-mail for personal communications. Similarly, do not use your work time to get to know your new work colleagues. You can connect with them on social media later.

Your next strategy should be to look for further opportunities. Once you are in an assignment, you are in the best position to market yourself in the firm. Don't be afraid to ask if there are any other areas or departments where your skills might be needed. Most temporary assignments have a finish date, but can often be extended.

Marc Burrage, regional director of Hays in Hong Kong