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What is an Errand Runner?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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An errand runner is someone who performs errands on behalf of another person or an organization. A number of industries have a need for errand runners, ranging from courier services which deliver documents and materials to personal assistants who do errands as part of their jobs. This position is often viewed as a temporary rung on the ladder to promotion, with people proving their mettle as errand runners and then going on to work in more important positions. People can also run errands as a form of temporary or short term employment.

Some businesspeople and professionals rely on the services of a personal assistant who can run errands such as dropping off dry cleaning, delivering documents to an associate, performing research related to a project, purchasing supplies, and other miscellaneous tasks. Many errand runners do a mix of business and personal work, with their employers using them as time-savers. Some may also be entrusted with delicate or special tasks which the employer does not have the time to attend to.

In addition to working directly for someone else, an errand runner can also work for a group or a company. Gofers are errand runners who assist at film sets, construction sites, and other locations where a large team of people works together to finish a project. Anyone in the group can request the services of a gofer, with most requests being along the lines of “go for...,” explaining the name “gofer,” which is a corruption of “go for” or “go fetch.”

Errand running companies hire out the services of their staff to people and organizations who need them. An errand runner might work for several different people, doing things like waiting in lines, picking up laundry, and performing other tasks which those people do not have time to do on their own. Errand runners also courier materials back and forth between different people and companies. Some people use courier experience as an errand boy or errand girl to become familiar with an industry and the people who work in it, turning that experience to their advantage later in life.

The rate of pay for an errand runner tends to be fairly low, and often benefits are not included. Errand runners are usually viewed as disposable employees who will be released from employment when they are no longer needed. However, if an errand runner can work into a personal assistant position, handling a wide variety of tasks in addition to basic errands, he or she may become indispensable, obtaining a higher wage and benefits as an incentive to stay with a particular employer.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Practical Adult Insights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By DentalFloss — On Jan 23, 2011

Many personal assistants turn into personal errand runners. One of the most notable examples of this in recent popular culture was a few years ago in the movie version of The Devil Wears Prada, in which Anne Hathaway did everything from getting coffee to picking up lunch for her boss. It was based on a novel and very true to it in some ways, though I personally think the movie made her seem even more downtrodden; that made it even more of a contrast, though, with the people who had the money to pay her to do these things.

By Denha — On Jan 21, 2011

In many businesses, the errand runner jobs go to interns who are often not technically paid. While this can make for a tiring and redundant internship, it makes sense that employers would want to leave these sorts of tasks to someone who is volunteering, rather than an actual employee or, worse yet, an errand service or some other source that would need to be paid.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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