with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

How to be a Short Term Worker

With the right attitude, the life as a temporary worker is exciting and refreshing. It is filled with new things and challenges every day. You have control over where and when you work. You can stay for as long as you want and leave when you want, depending upon your contract. On the flip side, the employer can dismiss you in an instant, usually without warning or consequences.

The challenges start the moment you walk in the door. It means working with a variety of people and personalities, learning to adapt quickly, making fast decisions and knowing when and how to ask for help. Temporary work means pushing yourself all the time as you face new challenges and situations. By setting the job length you can set the pace of change in your life.

Working in a temporary job position is no different than any other job. The rules still apply. Be on time, be prepared, and if you need help, ask. Most businesses hate wasted time. No personal calls, keep breaks to a minimum, dress appropriately, and maintain the normal professional attitudes and postures.


People usually take temporary jobs for three reasons. First, they are between full-time jobs and need the money; second, they want to check out the job market and position to see if this is what they really want to do; and third, they love the life of working when and where they want, enjoying the variety that comes with temporary work.

Not everyone can work as a temporary worker, or "temp" as they are often called. Most people like the security and comfort of a known company and job. They are comfortable working with the same people every day, often doing the same or similar things all the time. A temporary worker develops the confidence to walk into any job situation and get the job done. It can hone your skills, no matter what they are, forcing you to accommodate different personalities, work situations and environments.

Besides the specific job skill, it is important for a temporary worker to be well organized, keeping track of their work and their responsibilities to the different companies they work for. Depending upon the length of the job, a temp can have a new boss and fellow employees every week or so. They need the ability to quickly determine the structure of authority and the responsibilities they are given. They need to learn how to ask the right questions to get the job done efficiently and accurately. They must be fearless when it comes to asking for help and admitting when they are wrong.

Learn to be flexible and work with a variety of work environments.Above all else, a temporary worker must be flexible. One company may have a strict dress code and the next not. One company may use state of the art computer equipment and the next do the same job with a pencil and paper. The temporary worker must be up-to-date on the latest technology but still current on how to use the old versions. If the work area is too cold or too hot, odds are it is for a reason, so the worker must be ready to accommodate both, flexing with the myriad ways each company does the same thing.

If you are up to the challenges of being a temporary worker, the first skill that needs cultivating is how to compute how long it will take you to do a task or project. We also offer some tips on how to make your experience as a temporary worker a pleasant and enjoyable one.


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