Taking a Temp-to-Perm Job: The Risks and Rewards


When you’re looking for work, you want to explore all your options. The ideal option for most people, of course, is a full-time, salaried position, but that might not always be available to you for whatever reason. One other option that may open up, however, is that of a temp-to-perm job.
Short for “temporary to permanent,” this type of job is just what it sounds like: temporary work that leads to a permanent position. Temp-to-perm positions are useful for companies as they allow them to try out new employees before committing to a more expensive, long-term hire. In some industries, temporary positions are common depending on the season (these positions, in fact, may be referred to as “seasonal”), but if employee performance is good, that position may become a permanent one after the season ends.
If you’re considering a temp-to-perm position, you should know that these types of jobs bring many risks, but can also yield many rewards. Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of temp-to-perm jobs.

RISK: The job may be more “temp” than “perm.”

It’s hard to tell, when you start a temp-to-perm job, if the permanent hire is a real possibility, or just a pipe dream to get you to take the temp job. Before you take the job, make sure you know what to expect in terms of timeframe. Ask if the company has ever had other temp-to-perm employees, and what the process looked like for them. What will be expected of you in order for the job to become permanent? Also, is the job you’re taking on a new role they’re trying out for the first time? Or a long-needed position they’re trying to fill after a vacancy? This could give you a better indication of how good your chances are that you’ll end up with a permanent job.

RISK: Coworkers may not take you seriously.

As a temp worker, you might be treated differently by other people in the office. They may be less willing to invest time or resources helping you learn and progress within the company, knowing that you could be gone soon anyway. Counteract this by working as though you already have a permanent position. Ask for help and advice, and integrate yourself into the office culture.

RISK: You’re (probably) not compensated as well.

Many temporary workers find that their overall compensation package (wages, benefits, etc.) is not as appealing as that of a full-time salary worker. There are some exceptions to this, depending on the company and the length of the temporary position. Overall, however, temporary workers should expect to be a little underpaid and receive little to no benefits or time off.

REWARD: You get one foot in the door.

Accepting a temporary position is a great way to get started with a company you’d love to work for. If your ideal workplace doesn’t have permanent positions open, they may still be willing to hire you as a temp, or even a contract-based worker. Then, when a full-time position does open up, you’ll be a much more attractive candidate, as someone who already has plenty of experience with the company.

REWARD: You’re getting paid to learn.

A temporary position can really be seen as a paid learning opportunity. You’re gaining experience, adding another company (hopefully a great one) to your resume, developing your skills, and learning about your industry and what day-to-day life “on the job” looks like. Treat your temp job like a (paid!) crash course that will help you when it’s time to land your next permanent job.

REWARD: You can make connections in your field.

Any job in your industry is going to give you the opportunity to meet industry leaders and build connections. Even if your job is only temporary, do your best to leave a good impression on your coworkers and managers, as well as any other professional connections you make during your time there. These connections could help you find permanent work down the road, whether as a referral or as a reference.
Any job comes with risks and rewards, and temp-to-perm positions are no exception. As you look for a temp-to-perm position that is right for you, make sure to keep these pros and cons in mind. Good luck with your evolving career!

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