How to navigate contract work into full-time job
May 5, 2010 – With temporary help and contract hiring on the rise as employment improves, more people are hoping to convert these positions into full-time jobs.
One of the most important factors determining whether one succeeds, however – in addition to the employer’s need and ability to hire, and the quality of the contract employee’s work – is the person’s skill in navigating the transition to full-time employment, according to OI Partners, a leading global talent management firm.
“Contract work is beneficial for both employers and employees. It enables employers to evaluate the skills of contract workers, and ensure that they would fit into the company if an opening arises. It enables employers to meet slightly increased demand for help without making the commitment to full-time employment. The company may not be able to afford to hire someone full-time, and there is still much uncertainty over how strong the recovery will be,” said Tim Schoonover, chairman of OI Partners (www.oipartners.net).
“For employees, contract work enables them to keep their skills current, make new networking contacts, and position themselves for possible future job openings. They can earn some money while looking for full-time work,” Schoonover added.
However, contract employees seeking to turn these positions into full-time jobs need to be cautious. “There are often no guarantees and no promises that they will be hired full-time even if suitable openings arise. The downside of contract work is there is the possibility that it can detract from a regular job search and create false hope about a full-time job. So, be careful about stopping or putting your search on hold,” added Schoonover.
OI Partners offers the following advice to people hoping to transition contract work into full-time employment:
- Ask up front if you can apply for full-time openings that arise during your contract period. “Have this spelled out and don’t take this for granted,” Schoonover said.
- Aim to out-perform full-time employees who are doing the same or similar jobs as you. “Learn the criteria that are used to evaluate performance and strive to hit a home run,” said Schoonover.
- Be positive and upbeat about your commitment to the company. “Don’t go around the workplace thinking of yourself as ‘only a contractor,’ and never display a negative attitude,” said Schoonover.
- Act as if you already are a full-time employee during your contract period. “Demonstrate by your dedication, problem-solving and people skills that you are truly committed member of the team, and not a short-timer. The employer may begin to see you that way,” said Schoonover.
- Understand the reason for the contract job and the circumstances surrounding the position. “This will help you determine whether there is a future with the company,” said Schoonover.
- Meet as many key people in the organization as you can. “Ask to be invited to or sit in on staff meetings. In an understated way, let it be known what you are doing for the organization, as well as your past background, experience, and accomplishments,” said Schoonover.
- Keep in contact with people who recruit for the company, as well as employees in other departments. “Make sure they know what you are doing, and that you are interested in staying with the organization,” said Schoonover.
- Complete any projects you are working on if you are hired as a full-time employee. “Leaving projects unfinished will hurt you if you need to be a contract worker again or want a reference for your work,” said Schoonover.
- Learn to exceed your goals without your co-workers feeling you are not a team player. “If for any reason you are unsuccessful converting a contract opportunity into a full-time job, you can try again on the next contract,” said Schoonover.