Thursday, July 20, 2006


This is a post from awhile back when I was *shocker* doing temp work. It's mainly just a diatribe without any real point. If you continue reading don't say I didn't warn you ...

I temped for a bit of time during my quest to find permanent, legal employement [still an ongoing process, I know, update, I know, I will].

Here are some observations I made along the way.

Number one: If you are in a company that employs temps do not refer to them as "the temp", we all have names. I don't refer to you as "the perm" do I? I might be here for a limited amount of time, but I am an important part of what goes on otherwise they wouldn't bother to pay me [and the associated fees to the agency].

Number two: Don't treat temps like morons unless you have seen evidence of such. Most temps sent to office settings from reputable agencies are compentent and intelligent people who have likely gone through a rigorous screening process. We also adapt well or else we would not be able to move from place to place and still remain effective. We are simply people, that for a myriad of reasons, are doing temporary work. We are not day laborers picked up on the corner and thrown into the cubicle next to you. I do not need a detailed explanation on how to make a photocopy, nor do I need my work micro managed. If you are going to redo everything you give to a temp then just save your money and their frustration and don't hire them.

Temps have brains, don't assume they have never been to college or worked in a professional environment. I cannot even count the times people looked at me like I was insane when I explained that I was an attorney looking for an associate position. Information, I might add, that I learned not to volunteer since I was then treated an an elitist snob or barraged with people's personal and/or legal problems. If someone asked me outright if I went to school or what my deal was I told them, I didn't lie. Otherwise, it was my little secret.

During my time as a temp one of my primary responsibilities was always to answer the phone. In a small office of 4 or 5 people this was a simple task. In a large company with a hundred extensions it could get complicated, mainly because as someone new to the switchboard you don't know everyone or what they all do. Some of this would apply to any switchboard operator, but is especially pertinent when temps are answering phones. I realize the person calling has no idea that a "temp" is taking their call, but a lot of it is common sense no matter who takes the call.

First, don't get chatty with me. I have 10 incoming lines, and while you think you are being friendly or cute I am trying not to be rude to you while watching red lights blink as more calls come flying in. I am the go between. Ask for who or what you want and go about your day. A "please" or "thank you" is always appreciated, "so, it is busy today, did I tell you about my recent fishing trip?" is not.

Second, if you are told the person you want to speak with is unavailable do NOT say "well maybe you can help me" and then proceed to have a case of diarrehea of the mouth. You are wasting your time and mine. If I thought I could help you I would ask for more info. Temp or not, chances are I can't. If I could help you then I would be doing the job of the person you originally asked for. My job is to answer the phone, so why don't you go to voicemail and let me answer my calls.

Along that same vein, don't get hostile when the person you want is not available. I am asking if you would like voicemail as a courtesy. I am giving you the opportunity to perhaps speak to someone else in the same dept. The fact that the person you wanted is not available is not my fault, nor is it my problem. Insisting that the person who answered the phone take a manual message only prolongs the process. There is a voicemail system for a reason. Use it. In many instances the person you are trying to reach sits nowhere near the receptionist or switchboard. The person is not going to run all over handing out pink slips. If you leave a voicemail the person you are trying to get will get the message as soon as s/he returns to the office/ gets off another call. They may even check their voicemail from outside the office.

In one situation I was in, I was answering calls for all the locations of a company. This meant I could be taking "Bob's" calls when Bob's actual office was in another state. "No sir, I cannot trot down to the North Carolina office, it's a tad far to go from NJ in a suit and heels." Remember, technology is your friend.

Hopefully my temping days are over. Maybe I should just stand on a street corner of the nearest county seat near the courthouse and hand out my resume like flyers. Hmmm, I wonder if that would work. ;)


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