Temping tips – advice for office temps and contract work

Temping tips - advice for office temps and contract work

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Got a flak jacket? Given the current situation of rising unemployment, more and more women in offices are working on contract. The good news for us girls is that there are more and more contracts out there. Our office temping advice will make you a stand-out temp.

Why employ permanent staff when you can pay twice the price and hide it from next year’s budget?

I’m a PA, and yes, I’m a temp. Then again, as I generally work at board level for around a financial quarter at a time, I prefer the term ‘on contract’. People can call me ‘just a temp’ anytime they like, but they do it to their own diary scheduling peril. “Yes sir, I’ll be sure to find you five minutes for your next appointment with the boss!” – (at a time when I know they’ll already be thoroughly pissed off).

I’ve been on contract for long enough to know the rules. As I’m now a bit of an expert at this temping business, I thought I’d give a few key hints to help all you newbies out there. By the way – if you thought it was about professionalism, here’s a reality check. This is how it really is!

1. Be prepared to be treated really well

I’ve been given bottles of Veuve Clicquot champagne and enough house plants to form a small rainforest at the end of some elongated and very nicely paid contracts.

2. Be prepared to be treated really badly

I’ve also been booted off the assignment because someone accidentally backed into me in the kitchen, and when I turned to find a scowl that would make Medusa look friendly, I giggled slightly, and walked off. With each new job, you never know what you’re going to get. You have no employment rights, and girl, only your stilettos can save you now!

3. Be better than the last person

All luck and no judgment. It’s oh-so-easy to shine if the last person was really, really bad.

4. Be ready for anything

Some places will leave you surfing the internet for the first two weeks, others will have you pick up over a million pounds of outstanding invoices and organise the next Bank Board before lunch.

5. Be nice to everyone

Your boss will not know how to pay the 1 million pounds of outstanding invoices. Pauline who sits in the corner and no-one ever talks to will.

6. Be bulletproof

You have to be bulletproof to work on contract. I recently had to explain to a lady who struck fear into the hearts of the rest of the company that if I knew 100% whether it would snow in Marseille tomorrow I would have already predicted the lottery, and be sunning myself on a yacht in sunnier climes.

7. Agencies work for you

Agency rates differ greatly. Get friendly with the better-paid ones, and you’ll only know which those are when you’ve hoofed it around town a bit and got a few temping jobs under your belt. Remember agencies are your sales people, there to promote a worthy cause – you. Have as close a relationship with them as you can but keep it highly professional. If they don’t like you, or you don’t like them, ditch them and get registered with as many new ones as possible, as quickly as possible. There are well over 365 agencies in the city I work in – register with a new one every day if you have to.

8. Have the boss fancy you

Remember I said it’s not about professionalism? Remember the old saying – ‘Exercise increases motivation and stamina, but for promotion, nothing beats shagging the boss!’

It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, it’s whether you get on well with the people that matters.

I haven’t stooped quite as low as actually shagging the boss yet, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t, should a suitably attractive opportunity arise!