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TempTalk with Sarah Sheppard

Sarah Sheppard with colleagues from VANOC

Making the world your workplace

Sarah Sheppard first registered to work with Adecco as a temporary employee (Associate) after spontaneously moving to Vancouver in 2009. Having never connected with an employment agency before, Sarah, like many of our Associates, discovered Adecco while searching for job opportunities online. Having previously worked at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, recruiting staff for their volunteer programs, our team was able to place Sarah as a recruiter on a long-term contract with the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC).

Behind the scenes at VANOC

Pulling off an event like the Olympics that captures the attention of the world requires a village of staff and volunteers. In her newly minted role, Sarah was in the thick of the action. “You had to be extremely patient and open to change,” she says.

“I helped recruit staff for positions that they weren’t expecting. A good example was the transportation fleet for the Athlete Village. The vehicles that were being driven around every day needed to be washed every day. Our job was to find the workforce to take care of tasks like these. It was very time-sensitive work – finding the right people for the jobs as the needs arose. Everyone on the team had hundreds of people to recruit. It was high-volume recruitment in a very short period of time. They would call us on Thursday and say they needed 40 people by Monday morning. We were sometimes in the office until midnight to get it done. It was a lot of work but also fun and challenging. Big events are exciting and working with VANOC was a once in a lifetime experience. One of my fellow Adecco Associates even went to London this past summer to help with their Games. It was the type of experience that opens you up to new opportunities – opportunities that you wouldn’t have ever had otherwise.”

Sarah also enjoyed being a part of a diverse team, meeting people from different countries, some of whom had been working at the Olympics for many years. “Everyone was extremely friendly. Not only did we like each other at work, but we were comfortable socializing afterwards too.”

Expanding your horizons through temping

Having worked with a staffing agency for a few years, Sarah now sees staffing in a new light. “Employment agencies like Adecco are great for people who are moving to a new city or who aren’t sure what they’d like to do permanently, especially young people and new graduates. The experience is great for your resume. Personally, I discovered tons of companies that I didn’t even know existed.” Sarah was surprised to learn how many companies use employment agencies. “A lot of people don’t know that companies do temporary-to-permanent through agencies,” she adds. “I always encourage my friends to stay open, even if it’s only a six-month contract, because if you prove yourself, there’s always an opportunity for something more permanent.”

Sarah also advocates the value of temporary assignments as a tool for guiding you in your search for a career. “You get to learn what different bosses are like, and what the expectations are, and how different companies and departments work.”

Sarah’s tips for working with an employment agency

“At first I didn’t really understand that the screening process with an agency is much like a regular job interview,” she recalls. “I had the misconception that it was casual. So I always tell friends that if you’re going to use an employment agency, treat it like a regular job interview in front of a regular potential employer.”

She also stresses the importance of honesty and transparency when speaking with a recruiter. “People have to be honest with themselves and their recruiter. You have to explain what you really want, and don’t want, in a job in order to allow your recruiter to help you find the right placement.” She goes on to explain that corporate culture plays an important role in finding the right fit. So be sure to describe the type of environment that you want to work in. Lastly, once you’ve connected with a recruiter and/or agency, Sarah recommends staying in touch because follow-up is very important.

What it takes to succeed as a temp

According to Sarah, the ideal temporary employee is a good communicator who has a flexible and open attitude, and the ability to take direction. Strong computer skills, particularly Microsoft Office and some of the newer creative software programs, also increase your marketability and the range of assignments that are open to you. She says Adecco’s free 24/7 online tutoring tool, SkillBuilder, proved to be an easy way of enhancing the skills she needed to succeed.

Most powerful of all, Sarah offers the following advice: “When you arrive on assignment, don’t be afraid to take initiative. That’s really important.” She says to complete the tasks that are given to you, but don’t be afraid to ask for more. The key to success is to keep yourself challenged.

Sarah’s next chapter

Currently living in Ottawa, Sarah is planning her next move, this time setting her sights on either Europe or Australia. Whichever she chooses, Sarah is glad for Adecco’s global presence. “It’s a comfort knowing that Adecco is all over the world,” she says. “When I move overseas, I plan to keep in touch with Adecco. My experience has been amazing!”

About TempTalk

At Adecco, we take great pride in the accomplishments of the talented individuals we place on temporary assignments each day throughout Canada. And so, to acknowledge their great work and share their success stories, we are pleased to profile them in TempTalk – a series of interviews profiling Adecco’s brightest stars.

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