Contract work and temporary employment are on the rise as the economy improves, especially for companies that need to meet increased demand but are hesitant to commit to permanent employees and higher benefit costs.
Working a temp job can be a great opportunity to keep skills current and make new networking contracts while continuing to look for permanent employment. But those seeking to turn these positions into full-time jobs need to be cautious, says Tim Schoonover, chairman of career consulting firm OI Partners.
"There are often no guarantees and no promises that they will be hired full-time even if suitable openings arise," Schoonover said. "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."
OI Partners offers this advice for making the most out of your short-time position and potentially making a smooth transition into permanent work:
• Ask up front if you can apply for full-time openings that arise during your contract period.
• Aim to out-perform full-time employees who are doing the same or similar jobs as you.
• Be positive and upbeat about your commitment to the company, and act as if you already are a full-time employee during your contract period. "Don't go around the workplace thinking of yourself as 'only a contractor,' and never display a negative attitude," 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.
• Meet as many key people in the organization as you can. Sit in on staff meetings and let it be known what you are doing for the organization, as well as your past background, experience, and accomplishments.
• Keep in contact with people who recruit for the company, as well as employees in other departments.
• Complete any projects you are working on, even if you aren't hired. "Leaving projects unfinished will hurt you if you need to be a contract worker again or want a reference for your work," said Schoonover.