How to make a temporary job permanent

By Robert Half on 29 June 2018

A temporary job can be seen as a foot in the door to a new career, but not every role has the potential to go permanent.

So it’s important to go into any new workplace with realistic expectations.

The possibility is there, and the right approach can increase your chances of success.

Treat this as a probationary period

Many employers use temporary contracts as a way of trialling workers before offering permanent employment. It allows them to assess the candidate’s technical skills, and gives an insight into the team dynamics and cultural fit.

More importantly, temporary work also puts the onus on the employee to prove themselves, with far less risk and fewer HR issues for the employer.

So it’s up to you to seize the opportunity and demonstrate how you’re truly deserving of consideration should a permanent role be made available.

Perform at your peak

Many jobseekers struggle to understand why an employer would reject their application or fail to offer them a permanent position. “I can do the work!” is a common claim, but that’s not what the employer is really looking for.

Merely performing the duties to an acceptable standard is not enough to impress an employer. If your output or commitment is no more or less impressive than every other temporary hire that passes through the workplace, there is no compelling reason for the employer to single you out for a permanent post.

To be noticed, you need to add value. You need to show you’re capable of going beyond the minimum requirement. You need to be consistently reliable, never late, always meeting or exceeding expectations, and with fewer than average sick days (none is best).

Plus, your experience and work history should be backed up with strong references – both from your temporary agency and previous employers. Don’t underestimate the power of positive references from previous employers who have first-hand knowledge of your work performance and reliability.

Personality is a plus

An interviewer can usually ascertain an applicant’s skill level in an interview, but it is sometimes only a very experienced interviewer who can delve into interpersonal traits that ensure cultural fit within an organisation. It is much harder to evaluate personality and how well (or otherwise) candidates may integrate into the workplace culture.

A good worker also needs the social skills and personality that can sustain or enhance a positive workplace environment. A good attitude, and an ability to interact and work well with everyone else in the business, can give you a strong advantage over a similarly skilled worker who simply clocks in and out.

Never underestimate the persuasive power of simply being likeable. Let things evolve naturally; if you try too hard to be friendly or become overly familiar too soon, others may see you as distracting or become uncomfortable around you.

Managing your own expectations

Don’t be disappointed if your hard work fails to change the end date on your contract. Temporary jobs still offer the opportunity for powerful references as they are still a validation of your abilities.

Employers can be put off by constant talk of a permanent role, so don’t be single-minded in your efforts. If the opportunity arises, they will approach you.

But if an employer believes your only motivation for working hard is to land a permanent role, they may decide you’re more likely to slack off once you achieve the goal.

Instead, prove that you are just as dedicated to your temporary job as you would be to a permanent position.

Learn from Robert Half’s expert recruiters so you can build a talented team of employees or advance your career. Operating in over 300 locations worldwide and as one of the top Hong Kong recruitment agencies, Robert Half can provide you with assistance where and when you need it.

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