by Maureen Crawford Hentz
You are temping. Again. Temping is a good — no great — way to get a foot in the door in a company especially in these economic times. Despite the economy work still has to get done and temps are a good way for companies to meet the need without increasing headcount. To convert to full-time hire though you’ve got to be both savvy and strategic and you have to know when all the signs point to no hire.Quick Guide to Enhancing Your ValueI assume that you already know how to make yourself valuable to a company but just in case you want a quick one-stop list:
- Do your work no matter how mundane impeccably.
- Ask for feedback. The time to get (honest) feedback on your performance is NOT at the end when you want a full time job but regularly and consistently throughout your tenure at the company. Quite frankly some managers are just not good at giving feedback and may never tell you where you are falling short. You should start asking for feedback within the first two weeks. Use the phrase “What can I be doing better or differently to better help you?”
- Mention that you are interested in staying with the company full time but make it clear that you understand and plan to fulfill your obligation to your temp assignment.
- Network within the company.
- Go to all the brown-bag lunch seminars birthday-cake get-togethers and company meetings that you are invited for
- Refer people to the company both for temp and permanent positions to show not only that you are a team player but that you are well-connected too.
- Update your resume to include your current temp responsibilities.
- Dress professionally speak professionally and consider yourself a professional — not ‘just a temp.’
Get Even More Savvy in Postitioning Yourself for a Full-time ConversionBeyond those obvious approaches to making yourself valuable you can do even more to line yourself up for a possible temp-to-perm conversion.As a current temp you have access to fantastic resources namely all the people in your group. Find out why the job is a temp job rather than full-time. Find out if the position was last held by a full-time benefitted person and if so what the tenure was. Do this sleuthing both around the water cooler and with conversations with your boss.Tell co-workers and bosses how much you like the atmosphere of the company and would like to stay on either in the same capacity or a different capacity when your temp assignment has ended. Tell your contact at the temp agency the same thing.StrategyLogistics are important to your strategy. You’ll need to find out if your company has headcount constraints. While it may be called something else “headcount” refers to the number of employees that a company has working. In my company headcount is a very very difficult thing to negotiate. There either is or is not headcount availability. Find out if headcount availability exists in your group in your division or even in your company. If there is not you may have very little chance of your converting to full-time no matter how good you are and how much value you bring.Find out when your company’s fiscal year begins and ends. Knowing the beginning of the fiscal year gives you an indication of potential conversion timeline. Understanding when the fiscal year begins gives you insight into when new budgets (perhaps including your conversion) will be available.Understand your temp contract. The agency that employs you has a contract with the company at which you are working. A number of issues will influence conversion including whether the agency charges a conversion fee for hire. The existence and amount of a fee is a significant factor for some companies. The fee may be waived after six months or it may never be waived. Again knowing this information gives you insight into the potential timeline.Signs Pointing to No HireUnfortunately it’s not always possible for a temp to become a permanent full-time hire. Here are some signs that the conversion may not be in the cards:1. You are one of a long line of temps in this job. Many employers never intend to fill a role with a full-time employee. Find out if this job is one of those.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: This reality doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. While you may not be able to stay in your current role your performance may have been so impressive that your current supervisor is willing to put in a good word for you for other full time jobs. Remember however that you have an obligation to fulfill your temp responsibilities both duties and duration of time. We’ve seen many temps at our company who begin temping and almost immediately begin applying for full-time jobs at our company which is very bad behavior.
2. No one’s talking to you about conversion. It may be that no one’s talking to you about conversion because you haven’t done a very good job. This is a hard reality as most people perceive themselves to be hard working and high-performing.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Find out from someone who will tell you honestly how your performance is being perceived. This person can be someone in your group or your contact at the temp agency.
3. People are being laid off around you. Fewer people at the water cooler? People above and around you doing more with less? Office-supply budget restricted? No more hot chocolate at the coffee station? It may be that the employer just has no money for a conversion which has nothing to do with you or performance.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: You can’t pump money into the company but you can ask for recommendations on LinkedIn a written recommendation for your file and for your manager to call the temp firm and express how pleased the organization is with your performance. These actions don’t cost anything don’t take away anything from the company and help make all that work worthwhile.
Final Thoughts on Temping to Full-Time Hire
Sometimes you just can’t covert from a temp to a full-time benefitted staff person but this reality doesn’t mean that your temping was a waste. Every position you take help builds your professionalism and your portfolio. Make sure you leave well (a final email of thanks contact information for example) and continue to network with your colleagues.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college career and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms. This article is part of Job Action Day 2010.
Regular QuintZine contributor Maureen Crawford Hentz is manager of talent acquisition development and compliance for OSRAM SYLVANIA Inc. a Siemens company. She is a nationally recognized expert on social networking and new media recruiting. With more than 15 years of experience in the recruiting consulting and employment areas her interests include college student recruiting disabilities in the workplace business etiquette and GLBT issues. Crawford Hentz has been quoted by The New York Times NewsDay The Boston Globe and National Public Radio among others. In addition to her work for QuintZine she is a contributor to the Boston.com HR blog. She conducts workshops keynotes and conference sessions nationally. Crawford Hentz holds a master of arts degree in college student personnel from Bowling Green State University Bowling Green OH and a bachelor of arts degree in international studies from The American University Washington DC. She lives outside Boston MA.