Industry Market Trends

Making the Move from Temp to Full-Time

Aug 21, 2012

When employers fill vacant full-time positions, they often turn to the most qualified temporary workers first. Career experts reveal to IMT how part-timers can stand out from the competition and turn a temp role into a permanent one.

Short-term jobs can provide high pay rates, flexible schedules and bring a worker closer to a coveted position at a top company. On the other hand, temporary workers also face numerous challenges: as employers rotate temps, they avoid liabilities such as health insurance, pensions and other perks that go to full-time employees.

Temporary jobs are on the rise in the United States, increasing by nearly 45 percent since the end of the recession in 2009, according to the Associated Press. That trend may be attributed to the fact that over a third of American companies are operating with a leaner staff and businesses are turning to temp workers to fill any gaps, CareerBuilder reports.

Hiring temps allows employers to assess candidates without making a long-term commitment - a sensible move in the face of sluggish economic conditions, United Staffing Associates explains.

The positive news for temp workers in search of something more stable is that they have a good chance of being promoted to a full-time position. CareerBuilder also reveals that of the companies hiring temporary or contract workers in 2012, 35 percent plan to convert them into full-time workers.

Staffing and recruiting positions that are currently in demand for temp work range from health care and information technology specialists to industrial positions, but career experts say that there are effective steps all professionals can take to help them transition into a full-time career.

Hard Work is Not Enough

Across every industry, employers value temps that can get the job done on deadline and with a positive attitude.  It's also crucial for temps to consider how well they blend in with the company environment.

"While a candidate might have skills, employers look for whether they are the right culture fit for the company," Jennifer Kochilaris, area director of South Florida at staffing agency Adecco Group, told IMT.

That sentiment is widespread among companies such as Lenovo, which strives to hire those with a specific mindset. While a formal interview many not be set, there are several key questions a temp can keep in mind during the transitional phase to become a better cultural fit.

"As an employer, I am experiencing difficulties in finding employees that have the same personal values as my company's core values," Plamen Blagoev, owner of Domino Arts Media Group, explained to IMT. "If an employee manages to demonstrate through their behavior that his or her personal values are in complete sync with my company's values, I would do everything I can to retain this employee even if I have to convert a temporary position into a permanent one."

Adapting to the culture can be as simple as taking cues from company leaders - from the way they dress to the way they represent the brand in meetings and conversations with clients. Temps should study the business on the company intranet and online to get a better grasp of how things work, Career Pioneer advises.

Don't Get Typecast

Those who have multiple temp jobs in the past may find their resumés packed with positions that may have only lasted a few months at a time. Yet there are several steps candidates can take to turn these short stints into a competitive advantage.

"Focus on your transferable skills," Kochilaris suggested. "It's easier to market yourself when you focus on your strengths, and what you took away from a position."

Kochilaris, who specializes in general staffing, recruitment, direct hire and temp-hire, says this strategy is equally effective for long-time temps and those who have never held a full-time position, and is applicable across industries.

For long-term temps, open communication is the key to an easy transitioning period.

"Long-term contractors should be ready to address questions about their work history and be able to explain why they are now ready to commit to a full-time engagement," Dave Poling, director of recruiting operations at Aerotek, told IMT.

"They should have good references that verify their quality of work and completion of assignments, and they should be prepared to explain how their past experience is the company's new competitive advantage," he added.

Build Credibility and Inside Contacts

One key tip that industry experts advise for temps is that they should take advantage of their inside contacts, once they've already established a good reputation.

"If you've done a good job at building your credibility and proving your worth to colleagues and superiors, they can help serve as references and stepping stones to a permanent position within the organization," Portland Job Spot notes.

Earning such credibility requires temps to market their best skills. "Since temps are often assigned to very specific tasks, your employer may not know what other talents you have to offer unless you reveal them," according to Quintessential Careers.

"Become an asset to the company that they can't be without," Kochilaris said.

To that end, experts say it's crucial to know when to move on from a company and keep the search active.

"I've had multiple temp jobs that were offered with the 'we'll convert you to permanent in 60-90 days' message that were never converted," consulting engineer Jeffrey Antman told IMT. "In my experience, those 'permanent' jobs seem to become much more available when I am working, even as a temp. My checkbook and my market value as a mechanical engineer are both better when I am working as a temp than not working at all."