Today we are talking about temporary employment – a topic near and dear to my heart, as my two most recent positions started out temporary in nature. Over the past three years, the temp sector grew faster and added more jobs than any other arena in the United States. For me, that’s a frustrating truth, but not an insurmountable one. People are turning their temporary positions into permanent gigs all the time. While it’s true that sometimes this shift is completely out of our control – we can do several specific things to increase our chances of permanent employment and ensure that we are not expendable.
So if you find yourself on a temporary assignment how can you work to make yourself indispensable? The key is really in learning to treat your position as if it were permanent. “Fake It Till You Make It,” as they say. During your temporary assignment you show up 100% of the time and you give 100%. The good news is that you may have a leg up on some beleaguered permanent employees who are either approaching or living in burnout. You are coming in fresh and ready to impress which means you have an opportunity to make your work really stand out.
While you are working your tail off, you can also take time to learn a lot about your company. You can learn about your customer, and about your strategies for success, and you can work to put yourself in the right place at the right time for advancement. Some people in temporary positions see themselves as only hired help – but many that get retained find ways to innovate and improve processes. They realize that best practices aren’t just for the tenured. They understand that you can prove yourself even in the span of a few months if you have to.
The fact is, the cost of a bad hire is huge for a company, and so many employers turn to temp workers as a chance to test-drive potential employees before they sign on the dotted line. This can be a real challenge when you are in the temp world – but it can pay off. It often involves a key strategy that is uncomfortable for most of us. Many times, you have to ask for the job. This has been the case in my career. In my current position I had to seek out managerial staff to discuss my desire to continue on with the company. What made this even tougher was that I had to substantiate my request with examples of the accomplishments I had made in my short, few months. When you want to make the move to permanent – you have to be bold, and you have to know how to quantify and sell your accomplishments.
But you also have to know the difference between being bold and being pushy. In my case I was hired as a temporary employee due to budgetary reasons, and though I worked hard to convince my supervisors that I was worth keeping, there were elements of my transition that were beyond my control. I made my intentions known with confidence – but I didn’t labor the point, and I think this is really key in negotiating your way to a permanent position. You can be bold and confident without being aggressive.
At points in 2012 more than 2 million employees were working in temporary positions. Not all of those employees transitioned to permanent employment – but some did. That’s reason enough to put your best foot forward in every opportunity, regardless of the time frame given. It has worked for me and several close friends.
Have you ever made this challenging transition, and if so - what helped you?
Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net