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December 13, 2017

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Temps Need Support Too

You have elected to work as a temp and are hopefully enjoying all the benefits that go along with this work style. Sometimes, though, you may feel a bit distanced from others because of the very nature of your work. There are some very basic steps you can take though to minimize this feeling of aloneness.

Working temporary has so many perks we sometimes fail to realize that we may, by the very nature of our work, experience a sense of disenfranchisement or disconnectedness. However subtle it may be, it can impact the way you feel about your work and, more importantly, yourself. Even if you have a strong personal support group in the form of friends and family, you need to expand that to your professional life.

The agencies have associations to which they belong but trust me, they are not an appropriate professional support group for you. Let me say, first, that I am primarily addressing "temps who type" meaning executive, administrative, accounting, marketing or other support staff in business.

Here are some tips for temporaries who are pros:

Specialize
The beauty of support work is that you can work in any field you choose. So, discover one that really interests you, like architecture or interior design or advertising or Internet technologies or childcare or moviemaking or flowers, and ask your agency (or seek yourself) opportunities to serve that industry, temporarily. Even serving as a file clerk can give you a wealth of knowledge about the industry. Receptionist is another excellent beginning for your specialization. Both positions afford you a real "window" into the workings, if you pay attention. Then, as future temporary opportunities arise, your experience in that field will automatically put you at the top of the list for work. And, each time you accept a position in the field, your experience (and your pay rate) increases exponentially. You can also get from the U.S. Department of Labor (www.dol.gov) a listing of professions that may help you think about your specialization. Be sure to let your agent know of your new focus and, if they are worth their salt, they will help you. If they are not, find one that will. There are also temporary agencies that specialize in professions like bartending, special events, film support crews and card dealers. Seek those out on the Internet or in the yellow pages under Employment - Temporary.

Join a Professional Organization
This is especially easy once you have decided on your special interest. You do not, I repeat, do not have to already have experience in the field to join. Just say that you have a special interest in the field and pay your dues (remember the dues are a tax write-off). This is also a good way to make contacts that will encourage opportunities for you. To find a professional organization, log onto the Internet and, using one of the fast search engines like Google or Dogpile, enter keywords relative to your choice to find information that will lead you to professional associations. Check out the professional calendar in the business section of your local newspaper which will usually list business associations and organizations, along with phone numbers and meeting times.

Join a Social Association
There are some social associations that provide you with support and skills that are very useful in the temporary work place. Toastmasters is a good example. You can learn to be at ease when speaking in public or to any large group that is a real confidence booster. Another example is the Phoenix Organization (young professionals who volunteer and fundraise for non-profits) or The Optimist's Club.

Exercise
I cannot stress enough the importance of regular physical exercise. It may not be a panacea, but it comes as close as anything I have ever pursued. Joining a club or gym is also another way to expand your personal support group. If the clubs or gyms are too expensive, check out your local YWCA as their membership fees and per/class fees are usually very reasonable. Include some of the more rigorous exercise methods in your program also, like Yoga and speed walking. Spend the money for a personal trainer for just a few sessions; it can be a real jump-start to an exercise commitment. Try Tai Chi for relaxation and stress reduction. Take Tango lessons. Long, vigorous walks can also clear the mental cobwebs and help you focus on your life priorities.

Take your Agent to Lunch
On your days "off", take your agent(s) to lunch (write it off). It is prudent to have a close rapport with your agent(s) if you are a professional "full time" temporary. It smoothes and quickens communication between you and furthers, not only your work possibilities, but also their ability to satisfy their clients.

Participate in Your Local Community Theatre
This doesn't mean you have to act (you probably do that all day as a temp anyway). You can volunteer to paint sets, serve as usher, "hold book" for the actors during dress rehearsal (especially fun), sew costumes. It is a great way to meet new friends and be involved in your community through the excitement of live theatre.

Enjoy and do good work.

-Molly Lay
Author of THE ART OF TEMPING published by Protea Publishing, a small format book full of succinct, down-to-earth advice for temps. It may be viewed and ordered at www.proteapublishing.com/artoftemping.htm It is also available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, as well as at your local bookstore.

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