How to Turn a Temporary Position into a Permanent Opportunity

In the gig economy, more and more companies are turning to temporary workers to fulfill staffing needs. A study released in November 2019 by TrueBlue and Emsi predicts 8.5 percent growth in temporary positions between 2019 and 2025, compared with an estimated 6 percent growth in all U.S. jobs.

How to Turn Temp to Perm

Temporary work can be a win-win for both employer and employee. Relying on temporary workers allows companies to meet seasonal demands without increasing full-time headcount, and the temp gets to try on a position without a long-term commitment. If turning a temporary position into a permanent opportunity interests you, follow these seven tips from your first day on the job.

1. Make a good first impression

First impressions count, so treat your first day at a temporary assignment like your first day at a permanent position. Inquire about the dress code, and dress accordingly or even slightly more professionally (you can adjust on the second day when you have a better idea of culture). Arrive a few minutes early and bring a notebook and pen with you to jot down information.

2. Learn about the company

If you want a full-time offer, you need to show your willingness to make a full-time commitment to the company. Take an interest in the company's mission and how your work fits into the bigger picture. You might be filing or stuffing envelopes but seek to understand how this administrative work supports the company's service to its customers.

3. Be dependable from clock-in to clock-out

Dependability is too often a rare commodity in temporary (and—let's face it—permanent) employees. Start by arriving to work on time and not dashing out the door at 5 p.m. Complete your tasks according to assigned deadlines, and if you have extra time, ask if there's anything else you can help with. All of these steps will help you build trust with your manager.

4. Go the extra mile whenever you can

Think about good restaurant servers: They unobtrusively seem to appear just when your iced tea needs refilling or your plate is ready to clear. This extra care requires skillful observation, a willingness to serve, and some hustle—all good qualities in a temporary worker. Look for ways you can contribute and think ahead.

5. Network so you become a part of the team

The best way to understand a company's culture—and whether you fit in—is to get to know your peers. Make an effort to spend time with your new colleagues in the lunchroom or on breaks. Of course, you'll want to stay professional, but don't shy away from sharing a funny story from your weekend or your review of the latest blockbuster. Even if you don't end up with a permanent position at this company, a contact you make at a temporary assignment might connect you with your next opportunity.

6. Have the right mindset

If your long-term goal is permanent employment, approach your temporary assignment as if you'll be with the company indefinitely. Don't adopt the "not my circus/not my monkeys" mindset. Invest yourself in your projects and think about ways you can improve your work output.

7. Be open about your end goal

Make sure your staffing agency understands you would be interested in permanent employment and inquire about any policies related to transitioning from temporary work through an agency to a permanent position. Such transitions are usually governed in the contract between the company and the staffing agency. If a position comes open, professionally ask your project manager how you might apply. You don't want to be pushy, but you also can't expect anyone to be a mind reader.

Taking on a temporary assignment can be one of the smartest ways to find permanent employment. After all, who would you rather hire—the temp you know and trust, or someone you've only seen during a couple of interviews?

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