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Avoid the cardinal sins – your temporary assignment survival guide

Updated: 29 Apr 2014

Employers and candidates across Hong Kong are embracing the benefits of temporary assignments. But in this new world of work there are several strategies you should take to ensure your career gains the greatest benefit from your next assignment, says recruiting experts Hays in Hong Kong. 


“The number of temporary assignments is rising as employers embrace headcount flexibility, act to manage workload peaks, hire in specialist help for projects and cover leave,” says Marc Burrage, Regional Director of Hays in Hong Kong.


“There is particularly strong demand in the banking and accountancy & finance sectors with the number of temporary assignments surging by 41 per cent in the past year.


Candidates too are embracing these roles, and we are seeing more jobseekers than ever expressing interest in temporary assignments.


“But to ensure your career takes full advantage of the benefits of a temporary assignment, there are a few key rules to follow,” he says.


Hays suggest the following survival strategy: 


·         Representation: Contact a recruiting expert who understands the intricacies of your industry and who can represent you to potential employers. “Use an expert so you access the best of the temporary assignments available,” says Marc.


·         Communicate availability: Keep your recruitment consultant informed about your availability. “We assume you are available for assignments until you tell us otherwise,” says Marc. “It does not look professional for you or us if we endorse you for an employer’s temporary assignment only to discover you cannot complete it.”


·         Update your skills: Your best selling point as a temp is your skills base, so make sure your skills continue to develop. “Importantly,” says Marc, “remember to tell your consultant when your skills expand so we consider you for a wider range of assignments and represent you to your true potential! Many agencies, including Hays, offer free training so explore these options to increase your employability.”


·         First impressions: Like a job interview, arrive at least ten minutes early on the first day of your assignment. As Marc advises, “Walk tall and offer a smile and a firm handshake when being introduced. Look professional, act professionally and dress professionally.”


·         Preparation: Know who you are to report to, the tasks you’re likely to undertake and research the organisation concerned by visiting their website beforehand.


·         Professionalism:  Be professional at all times since when you are on assignment, you are representing your agency. “We expect a high degree of professionalism at all times, as well as respect for the policies, procedures and culture of the company where you are working,” says Marc. “The expectations of temporaries and contractors are often higher than those of your full-time colleagues. You are expected to hit the ground running and learn quickly!”


·         Task completion: If you’ve finished one task, don’t sit there with nothing to do! Go to your supervisor and ask for another task. “Be proactive and impress,” says Marc.


·         Ask questions if necessary: You don’t have to be an expert at everything! As Marc explains, “Yes temporary workers are hired for their experience and skills, but you are allowed to ask questions if you are not certain about a particular task.” 


·         Etiquette: Don’t leave your mobile phone on or use the work telephone or email for any personal communications. Similarly, do not use your work time to get to know your new work colleagues. “You can connect with them on LinkedIn later,” says Marc.


·         Market yourself: Once you are in an assignment, you are in the best position to market yourself within that company. “Don't be afraid to look for further opportunities,” advises Marc. “Ask if there are any other areas or departments where your skills might be needed. Let your face be seen.  If you can see opportunities but don't feel comfortable investigating, let your consultant know and we will make enquiries for you.”


·         Assignment extension: Most temporary assignments have a finish date, but these can often be extended. “Keep your consultant posted of these changes so they can make sure everyone is happy. Sometimes plans change, on both sides, and if we know in advance then we can help to minimise any inconvenience,” says Marc.


·         Problems: If you have any problems, such as not liking the assignment, company, colleagues or location, tell your consultant immediately. As Marc says, “Don’t complain to your supervisor or new colleagues – you’ll just damage your own reputation and your agency’s in the process. No matter how trivial it may seem, talk to your consultant first.  They are in the best position to smooth any problems between you and their client.”


Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.


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