Tips for Going from Temp to Perm

Tips for Going from Temp to Perm

Tips for Going from Temp to Perm

If you've been employed in temporary jobs for a long time and feel stuck in the "always a temp, never a perm" pool, you may need to better portray your skills to potential employers. That may sound easier said than done, but these seven tips can help you move from temp to perm and take charge of your career.

Speak Up

When you register with an agency, immediately let the recruiter know you want a full-time placement. "Unless you make it clear to the agency, you may fall into a long-term temp mode," says Steve Armstrong, vice president and regional manager at Kelly Services in Detroit. If you feel you've let the agency know that you want a full-time position but you're being ignored, speak to the branch manager. "It could be you are working with the wrong recruiter at the firm," he adds.

Explain Why

Be prepared to answer if an employer asks why you elected to be a temporary worker for so long or why you want to shift from a flexible structure to a more traditional one. "You must address that question in your own mind before you go to an interview," advises Armstrong. Obviously, avoid saying temp work was the only work you could find. "That doesn't show that you feel you own your career," he adds.

Then how do you answer that question if all you've been able to get is a temporary position for the past several weeks or months? If you were laid off but it was months or even years ago, say that you wanted to explore some different options prior to making a full-time commitment and that temporary work enabled this.

Emphasize Variety and Dependability

Also illustrate that temporary work has given you the opportunity to work with different people in various corporate cultures. "That shows your ability to adapt to change, which is critical in our current environment," says Maureen Carrig of OfficeTeam in Menlo Park, California. Other intangibles that make temporary assignments valuable include your ability to prioritize, meet deadlines and be dependable. Those are all important in full-time jobs, too.

Sell Your Skills

Don't forget to spell out the skills you learned doing temporary work and how they have prepared you for the job you're applying for. "Hiring managers will look favorably on your efforts to build new skills," says Carrig.

Remain Positive

Like the old song says, "You've got to accentuate the positive." Why? "So much of whether you're hired falls into the soft-skills category of attitude," says Armstrong. "It permeates every aspect of our lives -- what someone's personal attitude is and how people react to it. We've been reminded lately that there are many things we don't have control over, but attitude is one thing you do."

Your Resume Counts

Employers like reliability. Use your resume to show you have worked consistently for one staffing agency. "List the staffing firm as your employer, and then include supporting bulleted statements mentioning the skills, duties and accomplishments within your assignments working for that firm," says Carrig. That way, a hiring manager can look at the range of experience you have working for one agency, rather than get distracted by lists of companies and your brief assignments with them. You can still name the client companies in the bulleted points, but the emphasis should be on the skills you used and your accomplishments.

Don't Forget the Basics

And remember: The basics always count. "Most assignments can provide you with an audition for a full-time job," says Carrig. "So show up on time, produce quality work, keep a positive attitude and be professional in your dealings with everyone."