The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

January 30, 2013

Transcending the Limits of Temporary Work

One-Way-Limitations
Abacus Group has always maintained that temporary and temporary-to-permanent jobs can be incredibly valuable for both job seekers and employers.  Temporary employment helps professionals transition back into the workforce or gain exposure to a new field of interest for a trial period.  Likewise, temporary and temp-to-perm workers accelerate project completion during busy times at a more affordable cost for employers. 

While these types of hiring practices can be favorable on both sides, there are clear limitations for some temporary employees.  In addition to typically lacking benefits – like healthcare, a 401(k) plan and paid time off – temporary and temp-to-permanent jobs are not as secure as direct-hire roles.  At the end of a three-month temporary assignment, a professional is once again tasked with securing new work. The same can happen after a temporary-to-permanent position is not performed to the employer’s standards, leaving one to begin the job search all over again. 

To reiterate, the temporary and temp-to-perm routes can be great tactics for the right person. But, sometimes, temping isn’t a first choice for professionals, and the stability of permanent work is strongly preferred. To help professionals maximize the value of their temporary and temp-to-perm assignments, two sets of advice are provided here.  The first discusses strategies for ensuring that temp-to-perm jobs live up to their names and actually become permanent.  The second set of significantly more challenging guidelines is directed toward those in finite temporary jobs who want to showcase their qualification for a permanent position.

Going from Temp-to-Perm…to Perm

  • Give your best possible effort 100% of the time. Holding a temporary-to-permanent position is like performing in a three- to four-month interview; you’re constantly being evaluated to determine whether your professional capabilities are worth the price of permanent employment.  If there are opportunities to go above and beyond the scope of your normal responsibility, seize them. You need to position yourself as a top performer that the business cannot afford to lose after the duration of the trial period.


  • Directly communicate genuine enthusiasm for the job. During meetings with your direct supervisor or other management, clearly discuss specific aspects of the role that spark your passion. Showcase additional enthusiasm by making recommendations for improvement within the department, division or company at large – such as cost-saving opportunities or efficiency boosters. Together, these tactics will effectively demonstrate your long-term investment in the organization and its well-being.


  • Get involved in the company culture. The need to belong is one of the most basic human instincts, but sometimes the pressures of work seem to override its necessity. Make a conscious effort to know different people within the organization – both in and on your team – in order to be a suitable fit for the company in the long term. Besides gaining comfort in your work environment, forming connections with your colleagues is crucial to professional networking.


Transitioning from “Strictly Temporary” to Permanent

  • Find out if permanent work is a possibility. Chances are, the employer wants the position to remain temporary for financial reasons. However, it’s not unreasonable that the employer will offer to transition a temporary worker to a permanent role; hiring an entirely new person requires both time and training. In fact, Career Builder’s 2013 hiring forecasts found that over 40% of employers with temporary workers plan to transition some of this staff to permanent employees.


  • Actively practice all three of the suggestions noted above for temp-to-perm work. Assuming the employer might be willing to transition or at least extend the temporary assignment, you’ll need to take note of the three points made above regarding quality of work, enthusiasm about the job and personal compatibility with colleagues and the company. What makes this different than concentrating on the same three items in a temp-to-perm role? The conditions of strictly temporary employment omit mention of permanent hire, so you need to work significantly harder to prove yourself invaluable.


  • If permanent work is your priority but not possible with the employer, seek alternative options. Of course, it’s also entirely possible that the employer simply cannot afford to hire a new permanent staff member, despite exceptional performance. In this situation, the best option is to begin seeking new employment – temporary or permanent – immediately, either independently or with the assistance of your recruiter, if applicable.

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