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Temp To Perm: Reality Or Too Good To Be True?

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Jan 16, 2015 8:36:00 AM

In ICS insights

Temp to perm jobs are increasingly popular with employers and, while workers are quicker to accept these positions, there is considerable skepticism surrounding the practice. In truth, for every person with a horror story, there is another with a tale of success. Your prospects correlate directly to that specific job at that particular company.

Knowing how to tell if a job is a true temp to perm will help you decide whether to accept the position and, if you do, determine if the time to look elsewhere has come.

Before you accept a temp to permanemt position, ask your recruiter how often these positions convert at both the staffing agency and the company. Conversion rates vary widely from firm to firm, but some premier staffing agencies are currently reporting rates as high as 75%, or 3 out of 4 workers. High percentages indicate those recruiters are excellent at matching candidates with companies and “temp to perm” is usually an accurate description.

Also, find out what the typical timeframe is. While most temp to perm jobs will state a specific length of time, such as 90 days, contract workers can become permanent sooner than anticipated or find their temporary status extended indefinitely. Knowing the historical time frame will enable you to make an educated choice and, if you take the job, gauge your own progress.

Presumably, you researched the company before your interview and have a solid grasp on its current standing and likely future. Now you must do the same for this specific position. Ask your staffing agency if you would be filling an already existing position that was permanent or if this is a new role. If the position was permanent before, it is quite likely that it will be again.

It is also encouraging if your immediate predecessor was a full-time employee. A new position or one recently vacated by a temp, however, does not denote disaster by any means. The uncertainty around the opportunity merely increases, but keep in mind that there are never any guarantees, even with a full-time permanent job offer.

Once you begin work, it becomes much easier to tell if a job is a true temp to perm position. Most of this relies upon your ability to be observant. Workflow is the biggest indicator. Consistent workflow and busy days are excellent signs, but considerable downtime and dwindling duties do not bode well.

One of the reasons employers might create a temp to perm position is to determine if there is a genuine need. If you have plenty to do and are making meaningful contributions, then the role is a worthwhile expense, which means you are, too. You can also gleam a great deal about the position’s future from your co-workers.

Conventional wisdom states that the more you treat your temp job as if it were a permanent position, the more likely it will become one. Something similar can be said about co-workers. The more they treat you like a bona fide employee rather than a transient temp, the more likely you will become a permanent member of the team. If they are willing to teach you new things, assign tasks to you, and seek out your assistance, they are approaching you as a valued colleague.

When you are viewed as a temp, however, they will not want to invest the time and energy in you, and your interactions will be limited. This extends to social aspects, as well. Small talk, eating lunch with others, attending company events, and meeting up outside of work may sound superficial but they are key components to becoming part of your new workplace.

While most people are not unfriendly to temps, they generally do not get to know them very well because it does not seem worth the effort. Conversely, if your co-workers are extending themselves and including you in non-essential aspects of the job, they are acknowledging you as an integral part of the workplace.

Sometimes, small details can be a harbinger of big disappointment. For example, if you notice a lot of names who are no longer with the company, that could indicate worker dissatisfaction or a revolving door of temps. Inconsistent filing systems, labels with mismatched fonts, and irregular forms could also point to high turnover rates. Perhaps the most telltale sign is whether you are provided with current equipment and the supplies you need to do your job.

If you are contending with subpar resources and constantly borrowing essential items, your employer is treating your position as an afterthought, expecting you to make do with whatever is on hand. That suggests you are not being viewed as a long-term investment. Of course, taken singly, none of these are reasons to flee; they are simply clues that will help you determine whether this new job is for you.

Even if the company embraces you and you are performing well, it is only natural to become more anxious as time passes. In these situations, patience can pay off as long as it does not cross the line into complacency. As the conclusion of your trial period nears, check in with your recruiter to see if there has been any feedback. That conversation may be all you need to know the position’s fate.

Since you were hired temp to perm, it is also reasonable to approach your employer directly. If your supervisor does not have an immediate answer, explain you appreciate him or her looking into it and commit to checking back in by a specific date, if you do not hear anything sooner. If that date arrives without any word, follow up as promised, graciously accept any information you receive, and, if the news is not encouraging, do not share how you plan to proceed.

You want time to digest everything before you react. If your probationary period has been extended, you need to decide if the job is worth waiting a bit longer for, and if you think it is, be prepared to move on if the company tries to postpone your conversion again or risk toiling away as a temp indefinitely.

If you cannot obtain an answer, you are most likely being given the run-around and it is time to amp up your job search, contact your recruiter, and start looking for a better situation. While it may be tempting to walk, unless you have another job, it is probably smarter to stay in this role until you can transition to another position.

While it is impossible to predict whether a temp to perm job will actually convert to full-time employment with benefits, you can make an educated guess, as long as you do your research, ask the right questions, and carefully observe your new workplace.

Discerning whether the temp to perm designation is accurate and meaningful is not always easy, but becoming adept at reading the signs will enable you to say no to false opportunities and say yes to genuine ones, brimming with confidence and hope for the future.