What does a new temp employee do when there's another opening?
July 30, 2013 9:18 AM   Subscribe

I hope I don't seem too dumb, but I've never been in this situation before and I sincerely have no idea what to do.

I just started working in an office as an admin assistant for a temporary contract (3 months).

It's a small office and I've worked here before as a temp and I like it and would like to work here full time.

My first day (yesterday), one of my supervisors asked me to come up with a manual for my position as well as think of ways the position could be expanded. I have no idea if this means they were thinking of hiring me fulltime after the contract is done and want to know what I could offer, or if they simply don't know what this job entails and need a manual for it. Also, I don't know if this was meant to be done ASAP, or over the course of the next three months.

Meanwhile, about a half hour ago, the Executive Assistant emailed all the staff to say she was quitting. So now they'll need a new person to do that in about 2 weeks' time.

My question: What do I do now?
if so, when. Ie : RIGHT THIS MINUTE? or Wait until my supervisor comes to discuss what she had already asked me about before?
posted by winterportage to Work & Money (17 answers total)
I would go to your supervisor (or whoever makes staffing decisions) and express your interest in taking up that position, and ask what you need to do to prove your ability to take on that job. I would do that right now.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:21 AM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

If they're asking you to do a manual for your job and ask how it should be expanded, that's usually a sign that they are thinking of keeping you. They are both a) looking for how your skills fill out the job and b) asking you to create a manual to detail what the job entails.

That being said, I assume you're interested in the executive position?

If I were you, I would do this:
Go see your boss, and say that you saw that the EA's job is now vacant. Offer to fill in on an interim basis, on the argument that it will help cover their needs while at the same time help you learn more about the organization and its processes, enabling you to better create the manual they asked for. If you're a rock star in the EA position, it might just become yours!
posted by LN at 9:23 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

And yes, hurry and speak to your supervisor this minute, if you can!
posted by LN at 9:24 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

When it's a good moment nowish (when your supervisor is not clearly harried/busy) go to her and ask her for clarification about the timeline she desires for the manual. Also mention at this time that both the manual and your colleague's departure have made you think about your position and that you would like to work full-time for this company. (Do you want the EA role? Or just yours? Tell her what you actually want.)
posted by vegartanipla at 9:24 AM on July 30, 2013

The first thing I'd do is an outline of the manual. Ask to see other manuals for other positions so you can see what the structure is like.

As for expanding the position, your ideas are being solicited, but if you're new in that job, it's kind of hard to know exactly what CAN be done logistically, without stepping on toes.

So the first thing I'd do is go to supervisor and say, "I'm working on an outline for the manual you asked about, are there any other manuals for other positions that I can use as a guide? What's the timeframe for the completion of the first draft?"

As for the EA position that's just become available. Give it a minute or two for the dust to settle, you don't want to look like a vulture. But perhaps when her no-host is announced, you might approach your supervisor and say, "With Cathy departing it seems that a permanant position has opened up here, would you think it was out of line for me to apply for it?" See what your supervisor says.

You don't get what you don't ask for.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:24 AM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

Are you sure there isn't another Executive Assistant lined up? Just because someone is leaving a position doesn't mean that the position is open.
posted by xingcat at 9:45 AM on July 30, 2013

Are you working as an independent contractor? Or are you working for another temp agency and have gotten assigned to this company? I temped a long time ago and I seem to recall some sort of rules about the company I was assigned to agreeing not to hire any of their temps for a certain period of time. (If the permanent company just hired a temp, then the temp agency wouldn't be receiving any more money from that company.) So if you are working for a temp agency, you might double check their rules before proceeding.
posted by Beti at 9:56 AM on July 30, 2013

Response by poster: Beti: I'm not working with a temp agency- I got this job through a personal contact.
posted by winterportage at 9:58 AM on July 30, 2013

Response by poster: Re: Talking to the supervisor.
Would it be ok to do this by email? I am better at expressing myself in writing.
Or would that be a no-no?
posted by winterportage at 10:02 AM on July 30, 2013

Definitely do it in person. Show initiative and confidence.

OR, if you are really concerned, send them a message asking to schedule a meeting with them so that you can talk about your chances to stay on with this group, mention the open position, and then lay out all the ways you would be great for that job. But make sure you say how you would love to speak to them IN PERSON about this and ask when a good time would be. Maybe even suggest a day/time.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:04 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Okay, then seconding Ruthless Bunny's comment. Focus on the work they have hired you for first and advancement second.
posted by Beti at 10:08 AM on July 30, 2013

Yeah, not via email. This is an in-person discussion for several reasons:

This is a career-building, complicated conversation that will be more thorough and efficient in person.
In person is How It's Done, and signals your understanding of business etiquette.
It's easier to dismiss your desires via email than face-to-face.

What you can do is write the email you'd send, which will prepare your talking points when instead of sending it, you say it.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:12 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I don't know if I want the EA position- I think I would rather have the admin assistant job, but obviously would rather that my contract continue after 3 months.
posted by winterportage at 10:21 AM on July 30, 2013

You always approach managers in person and casually about potentially being hired to do a job permanantly.

Here's how you show initiative, and secure your AA job (since you don't think you want the EA job.)

"Barbara, I see that Cathy is leaving and I suspect that the folks she supports will need someone to help out while you do the search to find her replacement. I'm thinking that although I have quite a lot on my plate, that there may be some tasks that could be deligated to me to help pick up the slack. I just want you to know that I'm open to pitching in. I really like it here and I'd like to be part of the team."

Now, I just threw up a little when I was writing that, but you get the gist. You can quietly push your agenda, without being obnoxious.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:48 AM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for your great advice! And keep it coming!

Would it be terrible to wait until tomorrow to do this?

I'm not good at making snap decisions, and I would feel way more confident for this conversation if I could prepare myself mentally at home. I just started this job yesterday and I feel like a total n00b.
posted by winterportage at 11:12 AM on July 30, 2013

Tomorrow would be fine. And especially if you just want a continuation of your own position and not the EA one, tomorrow's conversation should be more aimed at expressing your happiness and planting a seed while getting the manual timeline and less DECIDE RIGHT NOW MY FUTURE PLEASE since despite your having worked there before, you're very new in this specific role. Good luck!
posted by vegartanipla at 11:41 AM on July 30, 2013

Yeah, you're quite right not to leap at the EA role when you're so new at the admin level, but right on the ball thinking this could be a way to secure your position.

What Ruthless Bunny said.
posted by tel3path at 1:47 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

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