By Donna Fuscaldo
Working a temporary job doesn't have to be a short-term gig. Play your cards right and you can parlay a temp position into a full-time job.
In the current job environment employers are increasingly turning to staffing agencies to test out candidates before bringing them on full time, which bodes well for job seekers considering a temp job. According to Tracey Goldthwaite, vice president of human resources staffing agency Randstad Human Resources, in the first quarter of this year Randstad saw the highest volume of candidates convert into full-time positions. "The economy is improving and organizations need to get their teams up and running quickly," says Goldthwaite. "They are more open to bringing on temp employees rather than go through an extended interview process."
1. Target the temp agency.
Temp workers go beyond receptionists and secretaries, so when choosing which staffing agency to build a relationship with you should pick one in your desired field. For instance, if you want to get an accounting position, work with a firm that specializes in placing accountants. Same goes for IT, human resources and pretty much any other discipline. "There are temp positions in every kind of level whether an accountant or executive admin," says Goldthwaite. "The best thing to do is stick with a niche and seek out a temp staffing company aligned with your career goals."
Employers that use staffing agencies have clear-cut wants out of the temp workers they hire. For instance, a company may specify that it's a temp position with no room to convert to full time, while another firm may say it's temp to permanent. Knowing the scope of the job beforehand will enable you to choose ones that can become full time.
"You've got to have a clear line of communication with your actual temp firm as to their expectations," says Chuck Fried, president and chief executive of TxMQ Inc., a technology staffing company. "I've had clients who have said this is a three-month project that will not go perm and if they bring up the issue they will be dismissed."
3. Be the best that you can be.
We've all heard cliches such as "giving it your all" and "being the best you can be." But don't let that be a reason to simply dismiss them -- in this situation it's actually your best strategy. If you want to get noticed and ultimately land a full-time position at the company you are working for, you have to do a top-notch job. You can't slack off, do mediocre work or give it less than your all and expect to be brought on.
"Do the best job you possibly can whether you are flipping burgers, digging ditches or performing heart surgery," says Fried. You can't be a wallflower either. You have to let it be known that you are thrilled to be working there and would love to come on board full time. "You've got to be your own advocate," says Fried.
4. Be flexible.
When employers are looking to hire full-time workers they want people who are flexible both in the hours they can work and the tasks they are willing to do. If you display those qualities, chances are you will be in the running when the employer is looking to fill a position. "If you've heard through your manager there's a need for someone to help out on an additional project, you should be the first one to raise your hand and volunteer," says Goldthwaite. You never want to be inflexible when working on a temporary assignment. You should be willing to switch gears on a moment's notice and work different hours if need be.
5. Treat every day as the interview.
One of the best ways to ensure you are performing at an optimum level throughout the temporary assignment is to treat every day as the interview, says Courtney Moyer, a spokeswoman for SnagAJob.com. That means being on time every day, meeting deadlines and reaching or -- better yet -- exceeding goals. If you treat each day like an interview, you're more apt to shine in your position than if you just look at it as short-term work. "If it was an interview you wouldn't be late or come in looking unprofessional or show frustration," says Moyer.
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