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Are you a temp? These tips will get you that job



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High cost of operations, cutthroat competition and declining profits have made running business riskier than ever before. As a result, most companies are finding it harder to keep permanent employees. Engaging freelancers, temporary workers and contractors is now considered cheaper as this cushions employers from paying salaries and other benefits that permanent employees enjoy.

Worth noting though, is that some professionals choose to work as temps because of the flexibility it offers. Others take up short-term jobs as they search for full-time engagements. Whether you are in between jobs or you simply prefer to work on short-term contracts, you can make your stint at your current employer count in your overall career goals.

Career expert Rachael Ahenda of Fuzu, a local recruitment platform that offers insights into jobs and careers, shares tips on how to hack your temporary job as you look forward to your next gig.

Use the opportunity to gain experience

In a country like Kenya where the rate of unemployment is relatively high and employers demand experience as a prerequisite for recruitment, a temporary gig comes in handy. This is besides the supplemental income that you earn. Temporary jobs offer an amazing opportunity for you to fine-tune your skills and explore new opportunities. It also gives you an insider’s peek into how different businesses and industries operate.

Ladder to a permanent role

The income may be little, but as a job seeker, never turn down any “small” role if it has the potential to boost your worth. Most employers assess the suitability of their prospective employees by first offering them temporary roles, after all, tangible work is the most accurate scale to measure your work ethic, discipline and other attributes such as teamwork. Impressing as a temp sets you on the path to full-time employment.

Think of it as your only job

This is your job for now. Do not look at it merely as a phase in your professional life. Instead, give it your A game. While the company may not retain you at the expiry of your contract, you will certainly spring to mind when an opportunity comes up in future. But this will depend on whether you took your work seriously as a temp. A strong performance always leaves behind an indelible imprint.

Continuously market yourself

New opportunities emerge within organisations all the time, and as a temp, naturally, you are constantly on the lookout for the next engagement. Find out what skills other departments are looking for and offer your input. If there is an opportunity that you think you can hack, go for it. Taking up new roles cements your employer’s confidence in you. The HR manager is more likely to consider you for a job opening since he/she already has a record of your key competencies.

Invest in your own growth and development

Some professionals earn more money working as temps and contractors than those on full-time employment in a similar job. To achieve this though, especially in the long-term, you must constantly upskill by honing your talents and acquiring new crafts. You never know what skill your next employer will need. Having a wide scope of skills stands you in good stead of landing many gigs. Besides, employers hire and pay the highest rates to professionals with the relevant-industry specific experience, those who are up-to date with the current trends and latest technology in their profession.

Temporary contracts, unlike permanent jobs, are very fluid. You may be working today only to be out of work tomorrow. That said, it is important to remain open to the possibility of sudden job loss. Be able to adjust accordingly. With the fast changing dynamics in today’s professional world, notably retrenchment, working as a temp, therefore, prepares you for eventualities such as layoffs when you finally take up a more permanent role.

As a professional, any working opportunity allows you to meet and acquaint yourself with other people in your occupation. It does not matter whether your contract lasts a week, a month or a year. Use this time productively by establishing useful contacts with people who matter within and outside your organisation. Let them know your interests and combination of skills. They might just refer you to your next employer.

Whether to go into full-time employment or to invest in a business is a difficult choice for most. As you work as a temp, explore and experience both worlds and choose what suits your lifestyle and meets your career goals. After this, make up your mind on whether to pursue either the corporate scene where operations are organised in a particular way, or the more flexible start-up world that offers insights into what entrepreneurs go through to get their businesses up and running.

Maintain high standards of professionalism

Working as a temp is not an excuse to conduct yourself unprofessionally. Observe your employer’s policies and organisational procedures strictly. Discharge your duties well and meet your deadlines diligently. Respect your colleagues and seniors. Needless to say, no organisation will engage you at an advanced level if you behaved unethically, however outstanding your performance may have been.

As an “outsider”, your perspective is as fresh as it is untested. Do not shy away from sharing ideas and insights that could improve the organisation’s efficiency and balance sheet. While at it, do not be too hasty. Wait for the right moment to share your ideas and do so thoughtfully. You will always be reputed to any positive change to the organisation even after your departure. Mark you, a happy potential employer is worth more than a solid CV.

In my career, I have had the occasion to recruit and work with interns, some who I retained and others who I let go when their internship period expired. A company is more likely to hire its former interns than to recruit outsiders. As such, you must do exceptionally well and demonstrate why the organisation should put its money on you. Work as if you are here for the long haul. Businesses, including global conglomerates, love the security that comes with hiring the right people.

While you take up temporary gigs, do not drift too much from your own career path. If need be, only take up roles that enhance your profession. This will make it easier to retract to your speciality whenever an opportunity arises.