The time-honored tradition of the hiring process. For decades, it was the classic find an ad in the paper, submit your resume, interview, and ultimately get hired. The hiring decisions could be hit or miss, and the interview process so tedious that an organization could potentially have an open position for months.
Finally, a decision is made. The candidate interviewed well and their resume was perfect. Once brought into the workplace, that same candidate was not the person touted on their resume or the perfect interview. The candidate was an unmitigated failure.
Back to the drawing board. The new candidate is dismissed and the interview process begins again. In the meantime, other employees who are picking up the extra work are stressed. Morale is down. Productivity begins to decrease.
Gone are the days where you were hired out of college into a company where you spent your entire career and retired from. Unfortunately, many of the thought processes around recruiting have not changed since those easier times.
The temporary staffing business was first conceived in 1946. For many years, the temporary staffing industry was limited to secretarial positions. Unfortunately, over the years, it gained a stigma of temporary employees (temps) having low intelligence, a weak work ethic, or a lack of skills.
Thanks to the gig economy, the concept of temps in the workplace is embraced. A large portion of the world prefers short-term independent contracts these days. The reality is that most temps would much rather be permanent. This is what makes any job with an upfront understanding that it might become permanent so attractive to most temps.
But, don’t be fooled. There is some concern among experts who have done substantial studies that this practice of working temp has grown to such levels that it is easier for an organization to staff its workforce with long term temporary staff than it is for them to hire a traditional, permanent workforce.
Traditional Hiring Practices
There are traditionally three main steps to filling open positions within an organization: planning, recruiting, and selection. While these three steps have remained unchanged in concept over the years, the processes have changed due to technology advances, the changing landscape of how jobs are planned for, and innovations in how companies do business.
The planning stage is essentially unchanged. The open position is analyzed as to function within the organization, the preconceived skill set needed to perform the job, and what the blueprint for their ideal candidate looks like in light of their experience, education, and personality.
The recruiting has changed some. The innovations brought about by the internet have changed how open positions are advertised and applied for. Since the inception of such aids as Monster.com and Indeed, the word about open positions reaches an exponential increase in the number of candidates reached.
There are still some successful practices in place related to headhunters and upper management and C-level positions, and companies do still try to poach from their competition. Other than that, the corporate landscape is unrecognizable compared to that of 30 to 40 years ago.
Recruiting challenges now are multiplied with literally thousands of resumes coming in for one single advertised position. The process of reviewing those resumes is tedious at best and probably why not everyone who applies for the job even has their resume seen be either HR or a decision maker.
For those resumes that are reviewed, an old-school thought process may still exist in the larger organizations. It is the thought process that if a person has worked at several short term positions with gaps in their employment that they won’t be as good as one with fewer long-term positions. This is a thought process that is finally changing for the better.
Hiring Thought Processes Are Starting To Change
Traditionally, hiring thought processes have focused on the best candidate for the job based upon the resumes received for the open positions. The open position would appear in the Sunday newspaper classified ad section.
Resumes would begin to flow in over the next few days as some would be dropped off in person while others would slowly make their way to the company via the time-honored snail-mail tradition.
Most of the resumes that came in were from young newly-degreed graduates searching for the company where they would devote their entire lives. While those days are essentially long gone, many of the mindsets still exist.
Upon first glance at a resume, the decision maker might automatically disqualify someone whose skills are exactly what the company is looking for but who has worked at several different jobs in a particular time frame. Too often, these resumes are rejected after only a brief glance.
Studies by the Upjohn Institute of Employment Research reports that the temporary work culture has changed. More and more people are choosing short term jobs over long term employment. The idea of contingency employment is becoming more popular every day.
Temporary Staffing Option
The temporary staffing option provides coverage for open positions when a permanent employee needs time off, and with the gig economy, the short term assignment traditionally associated with temporary staffing agencies is a perfect fit.
Temporary assignments can range from a few hours to a few months, to a year or more. They can also lead to permanent employment with the customer’s company, either during your assignment or sometime in the future.
While you won’t have to provide a benefits package to your temp, saving the company money, there is a fee above and beyond the salary of the temporary employee. Once the assignment ends, you can either extend the assignment, send the temp back to the agency or make them a job offer. If the temp is not a good fit, you can end their assignment at your discretion.
In the past, there has been some degree of stigma related to temporary employees. They were labeled as inferior and occasionally treated as such. Make sure that your employees understand the function of your incoming temp. It other employees believe that the person is coming in for the long term, they will be treated with more respect.
Thanks to the gig economy, short-term jobs are much easier to staff with people who have impeccable skills. Actually, there are a lot of people who prefer working temp assignments than finding a full-time job with a major corporation. The flexibility that comes with temping is very attractive to some people.
As a result, temps today are more qualified than in the past. They can be highly trained. They can be very talented. They can fit in quickly and easily because they have been tempting for an extended period of time.
A company called Flex Jobs reminds us that many experienced temporary employees are quite adept at coming in and working with a great deal of professionalism and skill in situations where little structure might exist around the project. Their adaptability can be their greatest asset.
Other benefits for the employer in going with the temporary option are the legalities regarding ending the employee relationship. It is easier to end a temporary employee’s contract than it is to let someone go who has a permanent employment contract.
The Temp To Hire Solution
Staffing professional Angela Stringfellow lays out the benefits of the temp-to-hire scenario for both employers and the temporary employee. The opportunity to bring in someone in a temp capacity with the understanding that there is the potential for it to become a permanent situation is attractive on many levels. You basically get to audition the employee for both the position and the organization.
In these situations, you should interview more than one of the agency’s candidates to see which one might be a good fit. Handle these interviews the way that you would if you were interviewing someone you would consider hiring permanently from the start.
The temporary contract gives both of you an out if the candidate does not fit your expectations. You will have time to observe how well they fit into the company culture. You can observe the way they keep up their workspace and get along with coworkers.
More importantly, you can observe their skills and see how they work. You can assess how they respond to expanded duties and if they are willing to go the extra mile pitching in on a big project.
You will be able to hire them at any point in the contract. If you hire them before the end of the contract, there might be extra fees involved to fulfill the financial end of the contract. Most times, the longer that the person remains a temp, the smaller those extra fees will be.
You need to be aware that the temp is looking at you just as hard as you are looking at them. You are truly auditioning for each other.
What It Is Like To Temp
I have been a big fan of temping for many years. As a matter of fact, some of my favorite jobs during the course of my career came from temp to hire positions. It gave me the opportunity to hone my skills, learn new skills, evaluate the various industries to work in, and quickly find employment when I moved to a new state.
When I first started temping, I was qualified to be a receptionist. Through the years, as I gained new skills, I was able to move up through the administrative ranks until I qualified for Executive Assistant positions and beyond. I was able to pick and choose the length of the assignment I wanted and was even able to finish college while working.
There are a few aspects of temping that have gotten better over the years. For a long time, there was a stigma that temps were not as skilled, not as smart, or not as dedicated as someone hired in full-time and permanent. As the temporary staffing industry has grown over the years and with the explosion of the gig economy, this attitude is finally changing.
There are, however, some old-school companies and individuals out there that will look at you and treat you as ‘just a temp.’ As hard as that always was to hear, especially if I was in a situation that was supposed to result in a hire, I chose to use that as a driving force and show them just exactly what they would be investing in once they hired me.
In some ways, it isn’t easy to frequently adjust to new coworkers and environments when you work short term assignments. Long term assignments are much easier, and you tend to go in with a different mindset. If the job is labeled temp-to-hire from the onset, you are treated as though you are a new hire in many ways.
Temping allows you to truly see if you are a good fit for an organization. It gives you the opportunity to really show your skills and your work ethic. When it is temp-to-hire, you are even more motivated to go into your assignment and do your absolute best work.
There is actually a significantly growing population of men and women who prefer to move from one short term assignment to another. They enjoy the diversity of their many positions and have developed the mindset to be extremely successful at it. Personally, I always looked for those assignments that would eventually reward me with a more permanent home, so to speak.
While there is something to be said for having benefits, some temporary staffing agencies offer benefits these days. The benefit of seeing if the company is somewhere that you would like to work long term can be immeasurable. The chance to earn that position is priceless.
For the record, nine out of ten of my long term temp jobs resulted in a permanent hire. Those that didn’t weren’t a good fit for me. Some of them lasted a few years while others said goodbye to me during layoffs as I was the new person and in those situations, the last one hired is usually the first one gone.
Overall, I look back on those experiences with a smile on my face. I learned a lot. I gained more experience in areas that I was interested in, I explored many different industries, and I ultimately did find my niche. While the money could have been better at times, and nothing was really easy, I have no regrets. I developed friendships that thrive to this day.
How To Make Your Opportunity A Permanent Placement
From your first day on the job, act as though you belong there. Look for signs that the company might be a good fit but at the same time look for signs that it isn’t. Do your best to get along with everyone, learn quickly, and do any work that is assigned to you.
Remember that you are not only showing off your skills, but your performance also speaks for your staffing agency as well. This might be a new client for them and even if you don’t work out, how you handle the situation can help strengthen the relationship with the agency and the client.
In an article about whether temp-to-perm opportunities are too good to be true, Infinity Consulting Services advises that the more you treat your temp assignment as a permanent position, the more likely it is to eventually become one. Act as you belong. Don’t think of yourself as a temp, just think of yourself as an employee.
In this day and age, work is work, and not everyone is lucky enough to be able to work. This is your opportunity to show what you are made of. You can show off your skills for the work that is assigned, offer to help with other projects, and begin to get to know your coworkers.
Do your homework. Find out if your predecessor was a temporary employee or a permanent one. Did they start out as a temp or were they hired in? How long were they with the organization?
If there are others in the office who were hired at the end of a long term temp assignment, ask them about their experience. Did the client hire them before the estimated end of the assignment or did they wait until the end? Did they extend the assignment first?
You will also want to find out how many temporary employees are assigned to the company, and if more than one of you is competing for the same position. Knowing where you stand is an important part of being in a temp-to-hire position.
Ask for evaluations of your performance at least weekly until you feel you have gotten the hang of the job itself. After that, make yourself as indispensable as possible so that the client cannot imagine anyone else performing your job.
Depending on how long the assignment is expected to stay temp, you can broach the subject of your possible permanent employment when the estimated hiring date approaches, if the employer doesn’t take the reins and bring it up on their own.
As temps, you make less money due to staffing agency overhead, commissions paid by the client, and a lack of a benefits package. There is a concern that the practices related to using temporary staffing to fill the needs can cause wages to remain too low for those employees below the management level.
Since most people need to work no matter what, the temp-to-hire scenario is an extremely valid method of finding that elusive permanent position with a benefits package.
Studies by the North Carolina Justice Center, a watchdog group over employee rights, says that there needs to be a “call for policies that give temporary employees access to health insurance, retirement savings plans, paid sick days and paid family medical leave, and access to job training programs that provide pathways for career advancement in the new world of work”
Because of the growth of temporary staffing beyond the administrative function, there are more opportunities through temping than there are through more traditional means. While you will need to put in a lot of hard work to prove yourself when the day comes and you have achieved that permanent spot, know that it is there only because you earned it.
There is a point where things might get stressful. If your employer is less than forthcoming as to the disposition of your contract, or if you are extended to many times or working as a temp for too long, you might want to take a hard look at the situation and decide if this is really where you want to work.
Don’t ever hesitate to freely communicate with your staffing agency representative. They also will be keeping in touch with the client and getting regular reports as to your progress on the job. They can advise you of concerns that you can work to dismiss.
Remember that even as a temporary employee, you do have rights. National Employment Law Project has produced this report to remind us of these rights.
There have been a substantial number of studies into temporary staffing situations. While it is true that as a temp you do make less money than the permanent employees, and not just because of the benefits, should this discourage you from going after the perfect job just because it is temp-to-perm?
The answer is very simple. No, you should not be discouraged. You should jump at the opportunity to prove yourself before you are hired as a permanent employee. The knowledge of earning your position on your skills and work ethic can go a long way towards making your position very fulfilling indeed.
Ultimately, if you are on the fence of applying for a position where you need to do your time as a temp before you can be hired, take the leap. The positive aspects of these arrangements far outweigh the negative. Being happy in your position breeds productivity and the productive employee is the valued employee.
In this economy of a growing number of contingency employees, there is no shortage of available personnel in every industry for every job. If you have a shot at a temp to perm situation, you should take it. It could very well be the greatest opportunity of your life.