How to Strategically Leverage Experience to Earn a Six-Figure Salary II: Know Managers and Key People

Interview Tips

Even if you apply for a mailroom or receptionist role, you can learn the names of key players which can help as you transition up the corporate ladder. Here are a few points to consider.

Why Learning About Your Employers Matters

When a temp starts in a role like receptionist at the front desk or in another department, they may not know anyone. That’s expected. Getting to know people is important because it shows that you’re personable and want to learn. Where temps fail is they don’t place names with faces and they don’t open up. You can learn who everyone is by viewing names in the directory and noting who is in your immediate department. Pay attention to managers or partners to ensure you know these key names and faces. This will help as you grow into your role.

Important Information about Employer Names

When studying names, pay attention to how names are pronounced. For example, an Indian name may be pronounced a certain way. By pronouncing it correctly, you can look good in the eyes of that person because other temps didn’t take the time. You may see directory information that lists spouses’ names. You don’t need to know this right away unless the spouses visit frequently or call often. When an employer tells you that someone is visiting from a corporate office or the board of directors, note their names. Be helpful with any requests they may have.

Understand the Hiring Process and Who Key Players Are

Hiring usually starts from within. While you might fill in as a temp or in a new full-time position, managers may be monitoring your behavior. They may think about you for future openings or look to see how you get along with other people. Always give your best and be sincere. Steer clear of arguments or disagreements with managers and watch what you say. You want to remain quiet and neutral in a temp or new role because you want to be considered for future advancement down the road. Learn managers’ names and always be polite and cordial.

Develop a Rapport with Others When You Temp

Sharing a laugh or making someone smile goes a long way. Most temps don’t engage others and they stay online or on their phones. Because you want to develop relationships, talk to people. Say hi when you get coffee. Ask someone in the kitchen how their weekend was. If you’re heading out for lunch, ask if you can bring anyone anything back. Have an intelligent conversation when you see people in common areas. But, if you don’t feel confident or you’re shy, you can keep conversations limited. Showing that you’re friendly goes a long way.

What You Should and Shouldn’t Say

Managers and partners in companies are not like your friends. They may not watch movies or TV but may prefer the arts. They may travel globally and may be conscious of new technologies. When engaging them in conversation, limit what you say unless it’s a topic you’re familiar with. Years ago, a temp almost made a disastrous mistake. A manager referenced a Barney Frank meeting in the city. She thought he was referring to Barney the purple dinosaur and almost said, “Oh my kids love him.” But, she looked up the name in time and realized that’s not who he meant.

Study New Technologies and Learn New Software

To help advance your career, study what your employers are into and learn the software they use. If your manager wants to learn more about AI, study the subject and read current AI news. It can help if they have questions. If they use a new Google Home device or have trouble with their Alexa or Siri, research the problem they are having and find the solution. These can help you gain leverage as you master new technologies and show new proficiencies. Studying new software helps you waste less time troubleshooting what you don’t know. Master it.

Go Back to School: How This Helps Your Career

Completing degree requirements can help advance your career. Full-time staff may go back to school to command higher salaries, and you should, too. If you go full-time, take advantage of tuition reimbursement if it’s offered. While you’re temping, audit free online classes relevant to your career. offers free classes online from schools all over the country. Take a free online accounting class through from the Wharton School of Business, for example. This can be added to your resume under your education. Current and future employers will take note and they may even be alums.