Career expert Lee Weisser shares the top traits company heads look for in employees who want to become future managers.
Reader: I recently went through a two-year period of temping after technology had made my existing job skills obsolete.
While I had no illusions that I was the best word processor in town, the agencies gave me the strong impression that my skills were more than passable. But I wound up working less than half-time, and having to draw down my savings. A few clients complimented my work and asked for me, so presumably I was competent. Accepting data-entry and even light industrial assignments resulted in very little additional work.
Recently, I received an inheritance and am planning to go back to school and make a career change. But I was so enraged by my temping experience that I sought informational interviews with a couple of new agencies and a former agency that hadn’t given me an assignment. Here are some of the comments:
“You are strictly word processing.” (I had been led to believe word processing skills would be enough.)
“We had a data entry assignment, but it paid less than you want.” (I shouldn’t have had to do data entry for chump change.)
“This region is a hotbed of software development, and the level of computer literacy is high.” (This should have been factored in when telling me what to expect.)
The agencies either didn’t know the job market, had poor communication skills or lied. Giving people false hope about their prospects is just cruel.
Karla: You’ve been through a demoralizing period, so I want to be kind — but I don’t know how else to say this: You seem to have the impression that the temp agencies’ priority was to find work for you. In reality, their priority was to meet clients’ need for on-demand staffing by keeping a full roster of temps — and the first-stringers on that roster either have all the skills the clients want, or have the humility and hustle to pick them up as they go.
Fortunately, an 11th-hour windfall has given you a way out and a chance to improve your ranking on the supply-demand food chain. To make the most of it, stop fuming over what you think should have been given and instead focus on building a future based on what you’ve actually received: big clues about technological obsolescence and “computer literacy,” as well as a hard lesson in proactive skepticism.
Education will help with the former; to hone the latter, start asking sooner, “Do their words align with my reality — and if not, how can I triangulate and excavate to get at the truth?”
And don’t rule out temping when you’re ready to road-test your newly acquired skills. Besides helping to pay the rent, temporary gigs in your chosen field are a good way to enter the market and make a name for yourself before you commit to an employer.
Ask Karla Miller about your work dramas and traumas by emailing email@example.com. Read more @Work Advicecolumns.
For stories, features such as Date Lab, Gene Weingarten and more, visit The Washington Post Magazine.
Follow the Magazine on Twitter.
Like us on Facebook.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
photo of Work Advice: No, temp agencies do not exist to find you a job
New year, new job? Before you hand in your resignation, here are a few things experts say you should consider.
Advice for a graphic artist.
Letter writer resents organized monthly festivities to celebrate birthdays.
Thinking about starting a relationship with a colleague? Check your employee handbook.
Karla suggests managing the boss’s expectations and just apologizing already.
Department of Labor offers resources to you get up to speed.
Plus, a hiring manager with bias against “American-born” applicants.
L’OREAL AUSTRALIA has announced that for the first time, their Executive Committee is majority female.
Word is getting around about a grumpy creative type, and his friend is concerned.
- J.D. Power & Associates 8 most dependable cars, minivan
- Wake up to this crazy good Goo Goo barbecue biscuit from Holler & Dash
- Muscle Shoals Swampers, Jimmy Hall appear in Bayside Academy music showcase
- New York City Ballet dancer returns to Alabama for "The Sleeping Beauty"
- Who should replace Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump on 'SNL'?
- Jimmy Buffett to return to The Wharf in Orange Beach
- Beer garden in the works for downtown Montgomery
- Weekend box office: 'Logan' tears up opening weekend with $85.3M debut
- Resumes are more art than science
- How to open a resume: Objective statement vs. qualifications summary
- Don't confuse a resume with an autobiography
- Do I really need a cover letter? Plus more common resume questions
- Tim Tebow stalked by Colorado woman at Mets spring camp: cops
- KING: The Democratic Party doesn't get why it's so unpopular
- Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy Obamacare replacement should be called ‘Abominable Care’
- Fisher’s finish leads to Match Play and a shot at Masters
- Robinson, Lind ready for a spring training job fight
- World Baseball Classic failing to draw interest of American fans
- Ben Carson confirmed by Senate as HUD secretary
- Proposed $54B jump in defense budget won’t help economy much
- Are baby boomers too old to ski? Probably not.
- With allergy season around the corner, educate yourself now
- Butter or olive oil? Eggs or no? New nutritional review cuts through the myths.
- Every traveler’s eternal question: ‘It’s 2017, why don’t we have WiFi on all planes?’
- These activists want greater home-school monitoring. Parent groups say no way.
- Tired of people asking where you’re going to college? Here’s what to say.
- Perspective | Ask Amy: Woman reels from memories of tough childhood
- Perspective | Trump’s first D.C. dinner as president: An overcooked, $54 steak. With ketchup.
- Review | Colada Shop in D.C. reviewed: Little Havana done right, and an $8 daiquiri
- Amal Clooney Demos How to Perfectly Pull Off a Skirt Suit While Pregnant
- Jennifer Lopez Made The Entire Audience Blush When She Answered This Question About A Sex Tape
- There are six styles of love. Which one best describes you?
- 9 reasons why every Canadian should own a canoe
- Switzerland Is The Best Country In The World, According To A U.S. News Survey
- A police officer’s wife wants people to remember his service — not the gruesome way he died
- This Café Only Serves Cereal And It's Incredible
- Future of B.C.'s grizzly bears at risk, according to new report
- Bullbaiting, squirrel busting: Terms used in 'My Scientology Movie' explained
- Scarlett Johansson's custody battle: What happens next?
- Review: Make time for this sensational, intense season of 'American Crime'