Temp to PermIn the current economy, many companies are offering contract or temporary positions to meet their immediate needs without having to make a long-term commitment. But should a job seeker shy away from these relationship-phobic companies, or is this an ideal opportunity to get a foot in the door?

If you’re currently not working, a temporary position offers you income, a reason to get out of bed in the morning and a way to close that gap in your resume. Consider the relationship aspect, as well: While you’re in a temporary position, you’re learning more about the company, the role and the people who work there, while they’re also assessing your skills and fit with the organization. The temporary position could be a several-month, on-the-job interview, so to speak, as the relationship deepens. And being in the temporary role could also give you valuable networking opportunities to expand your relationships within the company.

If you’re already working, however, it’s riskier to take on a contract position unless the company is a target high on your list of prospects. In that case, you have to evaluate the particular situation and make a decision based on your risk tolerance versus the value of getting your foot in the door and building connections. Note that it’s often easier to be hired full-time from a temporary position than to land a position from the outside, but know that being accepted for a temporary position by no means guarantees you’ll get a full-time offer.

So, then, the real question becomes: Once you’re working in a temporary position, how can you increase your chances of converting the opportunity to a permanent position? Here are a few tips to help you try to make the leap successfully:


Be an Outstanding Performer

Don’t just do the basics or the bare minimum as a temp; be sure to embrace every challenge that’s given to you. Ask for additional projects if you have the capacity to do more. Don’t settle for meeting expectations; exceed them. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Pay special attention to accuracy and timeliness, and be sure to review your work carefully. Become the “go-to” person the company can rely on to get things done.


Leverage Your Relationships

While you’re there, take advantage of every opportunity to network within the company. Learn more about the business, different departments and the variety of roles within them. Ask people to join you for a cup of coffee so you can learn what they do. Eat lunch with different people to learn more about their work. Demonstrate your interest in the company, and build relationships across the organization. Consider joining an after-work activity with your colleagues, such as the bowling or softball leagues.


Be Interested

Demonstrate to the company that you’re genuinely interested in being part of the team for the long run. Ask insightful questions. Look for opportunities to get involved in additional projects. Use every opportunity provided to you, and take it upon yourself to take the initiative to learn more.


Add Value

Don’t do just the job assigned to you. Be a leader, and look for additional opportunities to add value. Think about the data you crunch, for example, and consider what questions it answers — and, more importantly, what questions it raises. Think about how would you address those additional questions. What next steps would you recommend?

Think beyond your immediate responsibilities and try to help your colleagues do their jobs better, which is a win-win. For example, if you have a particular skill, try offering to help with a specific project even it’s outside the scope of your assigned responsibilities.


Don’t Act Like a Temp

Act as if you already have a full-time position. Be highly professional in all you do. Be motivated, punctual and accurate in your work. Be willing to put in the extra effort and time when required. Don’t watch the clock and anxiously await your next break. If you act the part of a part-timer, it will be hard for them to take you seriously in a full-time capacity.


Do Your Research

While you should have done some research prior to your interview, continue to get to know the company, the industry and your field to stay current and offer relevant insights. Ask your manager thoughtful questions to learn how recent events impact your area, as well as the company in general. Think about how a new product impacts the revenue stream and customer service team. Will a new law have an effect on the work you’re doing? Demonstrate your engagement and interest by thinking about the bigger picture.


Remember That Relationships Matter

I cannot stress this enough: Build strong relationships across the entire organization. If you see a full-time position of interest posted, you want to have your supporters in place. Let your manager know you’re interested in staying full-time, but more importantly, show them how serious you are about that interest.


Consider Every Day an Interview

Always keep in mind that your temporary assignment can be viewed as a long interview. Every day, you’re building a case for why you should be hired and how you can make an impact in the organization if you consistently demonstrate your skills and abilities. Build the right relationships to help convert to a full-time position, but remember that your actions every day can play a pivotal role in your future success at the company.

While, ultimately, the decision to convert a temporary position to a permanent, full-time role is highly dependent on a company’s budget, it’s a much easier decision when the manager has a known candidate they’ve come to rely on for quality work. Perhaps the best piece of advice? Be the person they can’t live without, and make the decision to hire you an easy one. Good luck!

Have you successfully converted a temp position to a full-time position? Share your story in the comments!


Lynne Sarikas is director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University, where she provides career management and job search advice to students seeking residency and full-time opportunities. She also works closely with Northeastern’s corporate partners to identify their needs and support student hiring. Previously, Lynne was VP of Development at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and held a variety of management positions focusing on corporate relationships and new business development, as well as teaching as an adjunct faculty member at Stonehill College.

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