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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

how can I get my temp job to hire me on permanently?

Two questions, one answer. The first reader writes:

I have been temping for a while and a few months ago landed a temp-to-perm gig at a financial services firm. I love the job and my coworkers and couldn't be happier. The pay is ok - tough for living in New York, but I scrape by.

The problem is, I've been living with a health problem and the whole not having insurance thing is a large issue. My parents are on the verge of filing for bankruptcy so there's no chance of finding help there. I have no siblings, and am not close with other members of my family (who have any money to spare, that is). I need insurance - preferably through a job, and soon.

I am certain my company wants to hire me - my managers have assured me so, and if I even briefly mention "going to Oklahoma" the head guy on the floor thinks I mean that I'm moving there (it was just a comment about visiting) and freaks out. But I can't wait forever, and it's really important to me that I get this health issue dealt with. I would love to stay at this company, as it's a wonderful fit for me, and I've already had the head admin on the floor push for me a couple times now. How would you suggest I broach the subject of being hired on, or at least of getting a target date? I'd prefer not to get strung along for a year or more only to find out they have no intention of hiring me, no matter how much they like me.

And the second reader writes:

I've been working for a company in a temporary position for 7 months. I was initially hired for an entry-level position, then after 2 1/2 months was promoted, with a pay raise, to a different position working for a department VP. I have much more responsibility, lots of projects, I've been given a lot of freedom to set my own schedule and even do a lot of work from home.

I really do love this job and I think I bring a lot of good qualities to the company. I'm cross-trained for a few different functions and have been providing quick results on the assigned projects.

My question is this: How can I ask if they ever intend to hire me directly? The terms of the staffing agency stated that the company couldn't hire me directly without penalty for 180 days after the assignment began. I'm now past that. I keep trying to find different ways to make myself indispensable, but being a temp makes me jumpy. Is there anything I can do besides express my interest and enthusiasm?

You guys both need to sit down and have candid conversations with your managers. Be direct. You want to say something like this: "I really love working here, and I'd really like to move into a regular staff position. But at the same time, if that's not likely to happen any time soon, I'd rather know that. Can you give me a candid assessment of how likely that is to happen so that my expectations are realistic?"

If you get vague platitudes about how they'd like to do it at some point, just hang in there, etc., then get more direct: "What needs to happen for me to move into a regular position? What is the timeline for that, and what are the next steps we could take?"

And, if you're willing to attach consequences to this, you can also add: "I want to reiterate that I love working here and staying here would be my first choice. But I need to look at other options if we don't have a path or a timeline for that, so I'm hoping to get a clear answer from you -- if not today, then very soon." But obviously, by throwing that out there, you risk them telling you to go ahead and look at other options ... but that's also an answer that will be useful to hear. (Letter-writer #1, this part applies more to you; letter-writer #2 seems more willing to stay a temp for now, whereas you have a pressing need to either go perm or move on.)

Also, letter-writer #1, it might be worth explicitly tell them that the issue is about insurance. It's possible that they're unwilling to make your position permanent right now, but that they'd be willing to give you health insurance if that would keep you. It's worth raising.

Good luck!


Anonymous said...

Move to Massachusetts. We've got the best health insurance in the country up here. It is illegal for an employer to have a temp or contractor for more than 6 months. Mostly due in part to health insurance not being covered if ur a temp or contractor. Pre-existing conditions cannot be denied by an insurer, and almost ALL employers must offer health insurance to their full-time staff. If not, you qualify for some discount thing through the state.

Anonymous said...

In this economy, the answer is probably that the manager has had a hiring freeze imposed from above and doesn't know when it might be lifted. They won't give you a direct answer because they don't know. Companies hire temps for 2 reasons: 1) It's a short term project, or 2) They can't add to headcount but they have budget for temps. Sounds like the readers are in boat #2.

I'd have that frank conversation, but I wouldn't be surprised if they get a non-answer answer. Go find another job that fits your needs, and then give your current company the opportunity to save you. Unfortunately again, in this economy it takes this level of escalation for a middle manager to be able to go up the chain with the need for a save.

And ask yourself if you really want to make a career at a company that can't make simple decisions about retaining the best employees.

Charles said...

To add my two-cents worth - yes, by all means ask them directly what the timeline is for going perm - but, have your resume ready.

If it has been more than 6 months and they haven't given you a timeline then they are more likely not going to.

Bringing up the issue might just be the catalyst for them making the decision to replace you with another temp who would not make such "demands."

But, at least you know where you stand and can use this knowledge in your decisions if you find other employment opportunities.

Also, I would not advocate AAM's advice of asking about the insurance w/o the other benefits; most organizations that I have worked for/with have strict rules about only giving any benefits, especially health insurance, to fulltime permanent employees - never to part-time or temp employees. Sometimes this is because the contract with their healthcare provider stipulates that it is only for fulltime, permanent employees - they cannot get around this not matter how badly they want to. Even if the contract would allow this, they are setting themselves up for a lawsuit if they give healthcare to one temp but not others.

Lastly, bringing up the insurance issue could raise some red flags and cause them to not consider you for permanent status. Unethical? yes, but it happens.

Laura Y. said...

They might also be willing to give letter writer #1 a pay increase that would cover the cost of independent health insurance. My first job in NYC was what we called "fulltime freelance," which essentially had all of the drawbacks of both types of employment and none of the benefits of either, so no health insurance. I was able to negotiate a higher pay rate by letting them know that I would be needing to provide my own health insurance.

Anonymous said...

Granted, there can be differences with temporary agency company policy, however, based on my understanding, the OPs cannot have this conversation with the client (supervisor on site). The conversation needs to be with their Recruiter/Staffing Support Specialist at the temporary agencies. In turn, the temporary agency representatives communicate the concerns with the client. Having this conversation with the client site supervisor might be a cause of termination for the OPs. After all, they are both officially employees of the Temporary Agencies.

By chance this is not the policy of the applicable agencies, then AAM's advice is, as usual, perfect! :D

StaffingStarr said...

I agree with the above comment... Approaching the Client Manager/Supervisor can be seen as "too aggressive and confrontational". The temporary employee is also placing the manager in an uncomfortable situation, which is the reason companies hire temps. They don't want to deal with the financial or emotional commitment involved with employee relations. The best advice, is to work through the recruiter that placed the temporary there.