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Five tips to help you transition from temp to perm

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Tom Egan
June 9, 2008

With a tightening economy, an increasingly precarious job market, and a new crop of recent college graduates about to enter the labor force, landing that dream job, or even moving from one job to the next, could prove more challenging than originally anticipated.

During this difficult employment period, it may be beneficial to consider temporary work. Not only could this option be a practical, short-term solution, temporary work can also lead to a permanent position.

Often, organizations use temp to permanent positions as a way to "try before they buy." Why not apply this same philosophy to your job search - it may actually boost your skill set and give you some needed insight into a new company or field. It can also provide flexible work options not available through many regular positions such as job sharing, the ability to work from home or work only a couple days a week, and allow for non-traditional hours. Finally, it can, with some effort, translate into a permanent position.

Veritude, a Boston-based staffing and workforce consulting firm, conducted a survey of more than 1,000 temporary workers in February 2008. The top three reasons why respondents chose temporary work were to get their foot in the door of a good company (69 percent); competitive wages (61 percent); and the opportunity to evaluate a company before applying for full-time work (57 percent).

While temporary work offers its advantages for those job seekers whose goals are to make a temporary position permanent, here are five tips to help with the transition.

1. Know the business: Make the effort to know the company you are working with - what industry they compete in, what products or services they offer, who their top competitors are, etc. Think of the opportunity as an extended interview. You need to do your homework and study the business the company operates in, how they make money, and where you may be able to bring value. The more knowledgeable you are about the business, the more valuable you become to your employer and the more you can prove that you will make a significant impact.

2. Understand the culture: In addition to understanding the business, you must also understand the company culture. Each company is unique, with their own set of values, codes of conduct, and employment brand. This includes not only the company's written mission, employee benefits, and external reputation, but also who the key players are, how work gets done, unwritten dress codes, priorities, and internal dynamics. If you take the time to understand these nuances, and you feel you fit in, you will already have an advantage when a permanent position opens.

3. Show flexibility and initiative: Be willing to take on projects or tasks even if they may not seem to fall into your assigned role. Also, be the first to volunteer for more work since this will show positive energy, commitment, and a strong work ethic. Remember, the more you contribute and the more projects or teams you are involved in, the more indispensable you become to your manager or the company - and that's exactly the position you want to be in.

4. Tap your staffing company: Your staffing agency has a good relationship with the company or you wouldn't be there. Use this to your advantage and let the staffing agency know you are interested in a full-time position at the organization you are working with. Although you might also be tempted to let your direct manager know your intentions, this has the potential to backfire. You must walk a fine line between showing your interest in the company and frequently asking for a permanent position - instead have your staffing agency be a strong advocate for you.

5. Adopt a team mentality: Often the perception of being a temporary worker is that you will not be included as part of the team and no one will talk to you. Just as in any job, you have to make the initiative to get to know your co-workers. Think of yourself as part of the team - offer to help your colleagues with work, take the extra time to learn about your teammates, and develop relationships. The more effort you make, the more people will get to know you and think of you for future openings.

Tom Egan is the vice president of talent acquisition at Veritude.

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